Social Media and Gaming Cleanse

Heyooo! It’s been a while! Almost two years, in fact. As I do every year, I make the new years resolution to try to write more because it’s something I’d really like to get into the habit of doing. I find it can be quite therapeutic to get my thoughts in writing either online or on paper. It must have something to do with slowing my thoughts down enough to write it out allowing me to process it that I find comforting because if I don’t, I find it’s hard for me to focus and organize myself.

So, let’s start this post with a journal I had to keep for the MIT course I’m taking this semester. It’s called “Social Media, Virtual Gaming, and Networked Life”. I remember being SO stoked to take it when I read about it last summer. Theeeeeen I realized that we would be putting ourselves through 5 days of restricting our own social media usage and gaming time. I was really bummed when I heard about it. The parameters were self-inflicted and we were to describe our own scope in order to see the impact this cleanse would have on us. In it, I also talk a little about my trip to Montreal over the weekend with Heather and I have some pictures uploaded on my computer so that post should be up some time next week, I hope. So that’s the gist of it and the rest is explained in the journal. Please enjoy.

———————————————————————-

Social Media and Gaming Cleanse: January 28 – February 2, 2016

First Entry:

            I start this cleanse with a sense of anxiety and trepidation. I’d like to think that the gaming aspect of this cleanse will mean more to me but maybe I think this way because gaming means more to me in general than social media does; not that I game more than I actively participate in social media. In reality, I game far less than I desire to because I’m unsure if I can achieve as much as I’d like to in a gaming session so I end up not doing anything. This has been true for me lately in terms of progress in Fallout 3. I spend approximately 5-15 minutes checking social media in the morning after waking up – my phone charger is right next to my bed so oftentimes I fall asleep with my phone next to me. Before going to bed, I spend approximately 2 hours on social media before falling asleep because I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. Every night, I reflect on how severe 2 hours a night is and the hours of sleep I lose because I don’t often start going through the apps on my phone systematically until 1am-ish. I’m very much hoping that this cleanse will force me out of this habit.

I will be spending a large half of the cleanse in Montreal (Friday – Sunday) with my girlfriend for our anniversary; so with respect to gaming, the only things I’ll be missing out on are my 3DS street passes and occasional mobile games to pass the time. I do think I will appreciate how much extra time I’ll have to spend with her without being preoccupied with status updates, Instagram posts, and the like. On Monday, I will be heading to my part time job for the evening and on Tuesday, she and I have plans to spend some time together at home since January has been a whirlwind of events for us. So as peeved as I am about missing the PC launch of Rise of the Tomb Raider or not having time to log onto Blade and Soul servers with my best friend, I think I’m just upset that I won’t have that option open to me. I believe that I’m actually quite disciplined with my gaming so I’m less concerned about what this short recess will mean to me.

My scope and limitations for social media for myself are quite severe. I have decided that during the cleanse I will not go on the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Reddit, Tumblr, and WordPress for personal reasons. Texting and emailing is fine, as is my AirBnB app to message the homeowner in Montreal. As I’ll be in an unfamiliar city during the weekend, I’m allowing myself to visit the Facebook pages or Twitter feeds of the places or events I’ll be attending, or to do research on possible activities, like Yelp. I considered allowing myself an hour a day to peruse social media for myself… but knowing me, I’d end up using all of the time just before bed and possibly going longer than the time allotted and reason with myself that I would not go on the following night. Taking that further, I would then likely take up the full hour of the next day’s so that I wouldn’t have “lost out” on allowed time.

Day 1:

I’m noticing much more about the world around me now that I’m not consumed with thoughts about what people are doing back in Ontario and I’m more present in my surroundings. Did you know that public busses in Montreal do not announce the next stop on speakers? I wonder how much of an impact this has on citizens who have sight impairments.

The itch to go on social media is certainly still there. Prior to the start of the cleanse, I put all of the platforms I was restricting myself on in one folder and all of the games in another. Furthermore, I went into the settings to stop all notifications from popping up on my phone. The little red circle next to the app telling me I had a notification would drive me crazy. After eliminating that and not having the screen blinking all the time has certainly helped. On my laptop, the only change I made was to make my browser open a new tab every time I start Google Chrome instead of the preset tabs I had before. Unbeknownst to me, little Facebook pop-ups show up even if Facebook isn’t one of my open tabs, it just happens if I’m logged in. I haven’t clicked on those, however, and it hasn’t bothered me too much. I also don’t consider being aware that I have notifications to be “cheating” – of course I’m going to get a couple notifications.

I did look up a restaurant’s Facebook page earlier today and glimpsed at exactly how many notifications I had and similarly with my Twitter notifications too when I was looking at event feeds.. At least I didn’t clear them or look at what they were about. I hope this will get easier as the cleanse continues. I still find that my hand reflexively will unlock my phone and flick to the screen where my social media apps used to be.

Day 2:

            Today felt a little easier to manage. I realized one of the places where I go on social media without fail is in the bathroom. Without going into too much detail, my bathroom time has decreased. Maybe it’s this thing that young adults can’t deal with nowadays – the inability to allow their hands to be doing nothing. It’s like if someone had left their phone in their coat pocket and went to the bathroom, “oh no, what will I do with my time while I’m in here.” Turns out, just sitting there being present for the task at hand is an option too. By significantly reducing the time I’m spending on social media, the time I waste in general with things unrelated to social media has decreased as well.

On a continuing negative note, it’s still difficult to keep in touch with social media of events that I’m attending or people I would only be able to contact through Twitter. While traveling and eating my way through Montreal, I’ve found Yelp to be a huge help in finding places to eat away from touristy zones. While I’m still taking pictures of my food and enjoying it, I’m allowed more time to process my experiences at the restaurants. I think I will be collecting these pictures and writing a blog about my trip after the cleanse. I already feel as though this blog post will be infinitely more satisfying to write and read back to myself than a quick Instagram post. I also think it will be more engaging between myself and my “audience.” On a related note, I think I may post this journal series about my experience of this cleanse on my blog as well. Not looking forward to Monday and Tuesday as those will be my real challenges because I’m really not checking my social media as much as I did prior to the cleanse in my daily routine.

Day 3:

Went on my IGN app today to read some news about gaming before realizing that it was about gaming and one of the things we’re technically not supposed to do… Is reading about gaming still gaming? Anyway, I felt guilty about it and stopped after about 30 minutes of perusing articles and reviews. I mean, I was already on the site, might as well get my fill of interesting news while I was on there. Most of today was running around Montreal trying to get the last couple of things in that I wanted to do or see.

Day 4:

It’s becoming less easy to manage as I’m back in London and back to my regular routine. I’ve noticed that my general level of anxiety has gone up because I’m unable to stick to the routine I normally keep going through school, home, and work. My primary means of communication with one of my best friends is through Facebook chat due to its ease of sending links and quick correspondence. Without that, I feel like we’re on hold for a couple of days while we’re both collecting things to tell each other about when I go back on Facebook on Wednesday. Another aspect of this cleanse that’s been increasing my level of anxiety is a disconnect with the world around me or things I care about in general. Twitter and Youtube have been my main outlets for news for years since I’ve become disillusioned with mainstream media outlets. I also don’t have cable at my place because we’re all so dependent on the internet. I’ve always believed that the internet can provide anything I’d want, entertainment-wise, that TV, radio, newspapers, etc, can provide.

Or maybe I’m just doing this experiment wrong and the way I’m doing it now isn’t allowing me to live my life more fully and is actually showing me how integrated social media has become to my day-to-day.

Day 5:

The day is winding down and I find myself doing a mental countdown every time I remember to look at the clock. The anticipation of the clocking hitting 12:01am is almost as anxiety inducing as the cleanse itself. I’m proud of myself though; I did exactly what I set out to do and aside from trip and work related social media I was able to abstain from it for the duration of the cleanse. I know I set out with the goal of decreasing desire to impulsively check social media before bed, but I don’t think I achieved that goal… hopefully I’ve at least reduced it to less than 1 hour rather than the crazy 2 hours it was before.

Final Thoughts:

             I’m not sure what I was hoping to get out of this cleanse because I don’t think I got it. Instead, I noticed a general upward shift in my levels of anxiety as I felt less and less connected with media and news outlets that I cared about. It took away the routine I had developed over the years of when and how I would access information around me and the sudden and severe abstain from it took a toll on me mentally. I don’t think this is a sign of the importance of social media for me because it’s not like I’m constantly posting about what I do every day or my every thought on it all the time. Instead, I use social media as a means of communicating with close friends privately and to receive information. In that sense, I think the cleanse may have made an impact on me different than the one I think it was intended for: to live day-to-day without distractions of our virtual selves.

On the other hand, abstaining from gaming has had little effect on me since it was so short and I was so busy. If it had been longer and had I had copious amounts of free time, I think I would have been irked but dealt with it by reading or watching TV or movies, but this was of little consequence to me. This, however, did not make any real impact on me at all. The lack of phone games was a little annoying, but it wasn’t like I was playing Kim K every day and needed to keep my in-game relationships going so there was nothing pressing I needed to do.

I’m not sure if this is naive of me to think this way, but I really don’t think I am of the demographic that a social media and gaming cleanse would target. I enjoy living “on the grid” and it allows me to make informed decisions about my life, whether big or small.

Advertisements

My birthday weekend

I turned 24 on Sunday! 24 on the 24th, so that means I just celebrated my champagne birthday. I didn’t have any champagne though. It was a really nice weekend, and I got to do almost everything that I had planned.

On Friday morning, Heather came over and took me to the mall to pick up my Zelda bundled 3DSXL which I had preordered. If you’re friends with Heather on facebook, here is a video of me unboxing it. Came home and made her some lunch before I spent the whole day with it while she was at class.

Mine! All mine!

Sarah and I made a quiche for lunch, I played with the 3DS some more before the house and a couple of friends of mine and I went to Beertown for dinner. What an awesome selection of beers! Definitely want to go back another day. Had a couple more friends come over later in the evening for more drinking and debauchery. Jordan and I went undefeated for the evening with a couple rounds of beer pong. Such comebacks!

The next morning, I packed some things to spend the next two days at Heather’s. Ben and I spent the day watching Doctor Who related things and cleaning the house to prepare for some guests that were coming over later. The 50th Anniversary Doctor Who episode was being recorded on their PVR, so we had time to wait for guests to come. After dinner, we all changed into our costumes (I cosplayed as Tosh from Torchwood!) and waited for the rest of the guests to arrive. Before the show, we had some chocolate birthday cake which Heather decorated with a triforce and master sword. Oh man, what an episode it was. I had a couple of issues with it, but on the whole, it was a really enjoyable episode to watch. It definitely needs a couple of rewatches in the near future as well! The snow really started to come down as people were leaving the party too, which made for people to leave a little earlier to avoid bad driving conditions.

Doctor Who group shot

I say “YES!” to the cosplay parties!

The Sunday was my birthday and I awoke to some good morning kisses on the forehead *^^* I came downstairs and saw that the snow was still coming down really hard. By the time it stopped, a couple of hours later, London had received nearly 3 feet of snow. We really live in the snowbelt, because anywhere outside of an hour’s drive from us got literally none. Ben, his mom, his uncle and I played a game of scrabble while Heather busied herself with snow shoveling. She even shoveled her neighbour’s driveway too! She came in, we had some lunch, watched more Doctor Who specials and then everybody took a 3 hour nap. We woke up around 8 and had dinner. Heather and I were supposed to catch Thor and Catching Fire at the theatre, but the snow made that impossible. Oh well, hopefully I get to watch them relatively soon… I can’t put off that episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. much longer… >_>

So yea, that’s how I spent my birthday: relatively low key and with lots of naps and time with Heather, just the way I’d hoped to. To quote Heather, “we’re really turning into a couple of old farts.” Or something to that effect..

Sony Playstation’s Live Event – Live Blog

Long_Live_Play_PlayStation_4

Hey there! I will be writing my thoughts below, in point form, as I watch Playstation’s live event. Lag issues will account for several holes in my recap. Will the Playstation 4 be announced? New prices? Games? Hardware? Hopefully some of those questions will be answered by the end of the night!

Here we go!
– lots of talk about how Playstation is the best, has the most powerful hardware, how Sony knows what a gamer wants
– there it is, Playstation 4 announcement!
– the specs are pretty similar to a PCPS4 controller
– reveal of the controller! That colour bar idea to identify players on the console is quite fitting of Sony, the headphone plug is nice (finally…) and the touch pad is like the Vita. Thank god it’s not a tablet controller. I wouldn’t say it’s the ugliest or the most beautiful thing, but maybe it’ll grow on me.
– that million particle demo of the CPU/GPU capabilities was cool
– live streaming and over the shoulder guides or trash talking… seems like it could be super annoying.
– actual remote play between ps4 and psvita? Expensive… But wicked!
– Stig Asmussen! Good things to come from him =]
– Finally! Games!
– Killzone: Shadow Fall… Do people still get excited over FPSs?
– Drive Club… My friend tells me this idea is already available in Forza… So it hasn’t been to innovative..
– whoa… This is suddenly really political. What issss thisssss? New Sucker Punch game?? Exclusive? A blood tornado? …Infamous: Second Son. Damn, I thought it was Watch Dogs.
– awkward dude in weird shirt! Intro is way too long. Let’s see the trailer!
– oooo pretty… A puzzle game? I’m good at puzzle games! But uh… Flow Free in HD much? Interesting, called Witness
– did he just say QUANTIC DREAM??? ❤
– that’s it? Just a tech demo? </3
– Media Molecule! This should be good.. … The Move..? Okay… Omg… This is so cute. Move controlled avatars dancing in sync. But… How is this gaming?
– Capcom! lol did he just make fun of The Move?
– Capcom’s newest game: working title is Deep Down… Skyrim lookalike? That video didn’t make much sense.
– Square!!! ❤
– not a game but a cinematic real time PS4 demo? *sigh… Okay. Product placement for coke? Ooooo dragon…
– Final Fantasy director… O_O new FF at E3…
– Ubisoft now. Watch Dogs? Yea… called it! This dude is really weird and creepy.. Let’s see how the live demo goes..
– wicked… But looks so complicated
– Blizzard?!?! Diablo 3 on Playstation..? I think everyone who’d play it already own it. =/
– Activision’s turn: with Bungie? Destiny? Yup. Innovational? We shall see… my buddy called it “Halo with phones” lol. he’s not impressed at all
– I feel like the PS4 release will be soon
– hopefully they show us the console before they wrap up
– nope, no console look. I guess they have to leave some things for E3.

Post event thoughts
Well, the event did showcase a lot of different aspects of the new tech. Some stuff that’s worth caring about, lots that’s not. The most important part, the games, were a little bit of a let down for me personally. A lot of the developers that I cared about didn’t have much to show. Most of it were tech demos to show possibilities, but not what the end product will be like by any stretch. Square Enix, Quantic Dream, please give me things to squee over at E3?

Final Verdict
I would not get one. At least not until a substantial price drop… I’m sure some really good first party support and stellar games from Square and Quantic Dream may change my mind a couple years down the road, but right now… I really want a Wii U.

What did you think of the event? Post your own opinions below.

I didn’t think I would get to fall in love again.

A long time ago, I wrote an article on why I preferred the console gaming world as opposed to the PC gaming world. To summarize, I argued that consoles were much more cost efficient and that with one machine, I would be able to play a generation’s worth of games without having to drop over $1000. In response to my old self, I say, “Don’t knock it til’ you try it.”

Two years ago, I purchased a laptop because it was cheap, and I thought it was time my last one should be put to rest… My trusty Toshiba had been through a lot in its three years of service with me… especially with all of the abuse it went through. So when I was looking at laptops, I was looking at all the wrong details (no… not how well it could withstand physical trauma). I was looking at battery life, among other things that didn’t really have much to do with how efficient the machine ran. My brother told me not to, but in the end, I got this HP computer that was I thought slick and stuff. The laptop wasn’t fast enough to play even the simplest of games. It was able to run Starcraft II, but without a cooling pad, it overheated within 15 minutes. Actually, it overheated within 15 minutes of being off a cooling pad no matter what it was doing! About a year later, I had enough of it. I started to use my brother’s laptop. It ran Windows Vista (mine was Windows 7) but it was able to run lots of things! Well, it was able to run… but you know, running LoL at 15fps kind of defeats the purpose. Eventually, it started having overheating problems too, and it was also perma-attached to my cooling pad. At first, the fan was super quiet so it was really sweet, but then something happened, and it all went downhill from there. Jeff likened it to a jet engine.. haha. I was tired of using a computer that wasn’t mine.

At first, I was planning on getting another laptop… but the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t make sense to me. It’s not like I took my laptop anywhere, I even wrote my notes with pen and paper. So if I was about to drop $900 on a laptop, why not spend a little more and go the extra mile to get a desktop that I know would take care of all my needs? I would also know every single piece of hardware in there since my roommates are awesome and have taught me so much this past week. Canada Computer actually had quite a few deals and bundles when I went, so not all of the prices below are actually what I paid. The guy there who helped me was also pretty good, made some good decisions, and I was pretty confident with Jeff and Ferg there too.

So, if you are still following me, this is my new baby ❤

Before

Monitor: Samsung 23.6″ LED

CPU: Intel Core i5-3550 Quad-Core

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H

GPU: ASUS Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti

Storage: Crucial M4 128GB

RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) RAM

PSU: Corsair Builder Series CX600 V2 600 Watt 80 PLUS Bronze Certified

Case: Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case

 

AfterIn this photo, I’ve got all of it put together! The unfortunate part is that the glare off of the screen is so strong you can’t admire it haha… But there’s still much to work on for this rig. The 128GB HDD is no where near enough space. I’m already looking into some internal harddrives, but that’ll run me another $80 or so. I’m also on the lookout for a wired gaming mouse which is another $50.

The building part of it was actually a lot of fun! The screws and everything were very organized and it was exciting to look at the motherboard with all of its chips, pathways, ports, and many other things on it. We unboxed the i5 chip, and Ferg and Jeff told me it was the most important part of the machine, its heart. They also said RAM was important because without it, my computer would forget things (*eyeroll*). The scariest parts were whenever I had to plug or snap something into the motherboard… I kept worrying that if I pushed too hard, I’d snap it, but obviously everything went really smoothly. On top of my Intel chip, there is a fan specifically for it. The guys were psyching me up for it because in their experience, it’s only ever been challenging. So when it took me about 10 seconds to get all 4 of the screws in, their reactions were pretty funny.

A lot of the people I’ve been talking to are concerned that my PSU isn’t strong enough, or that I don’t have enough fans installed. To be honest, I’m not too concerned. I won’t be buying much more for the rig for a while since I don’t plan on overclocking it, or adding another video card, etc. This is leaps and bounds better than what I had before, maybe I’ll worry about all the changes I’ll have to make after the next graphics generation comes along.

The entire time, Jeff and Ferg were telling me that all of the items on my list were one time purchases, or at least would last me a long time. My machine may not be top of the line, but I also really don’t need it to be. It can run all of the games that are currently on the market beyond their recommended settings and I know I’ll be fine for years to come. It is both the most expensive and intelligent purchase I’ve made to date. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to the stone ages. So thanks Ferg, Jeff, Jordan, and Kenneth for all the help!

On the console gaming front, the next generation is happening right now. I’m not going to be interested in the Wii U until the next LoZ game and I’ve still got a while to wait before the Playstation 4. As for Microsoft’s next console, I’m not too interested. In the mean time, I’ll be patiently waiting for Tuesday when Ni No Kuni gets released by polishing my LoL skills. I’ve got an ongoing list of games I need to finish too!

Viva Technology~!

What do you guys think? Thanks for reading!