Awareness: 12/19/2018

I’ve been continuing to try to reprogram my mind, but it’s difficult. Advertisements are everywhere, and they are so hard to overcome. They are the product of a century’s study into how the human minds decides on a purchase.

I’ve been re-reading sections of Walden in an effort to give myself courage and motivation. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. It speaks to a simpler, more responsible life. It is, in my opinion, uniquely for the male perspective. Men are more predisposed to tie their worth to their ability to earn, and modern consumer cultures seems to exacerbate these feelings of inadequacy for profit. But Thoreau makes the argument that acquiring more possessions leads to more unhappiness. On its face this argument seems quaint, perhaps a product of the time in history which it was constructed, but I think it’s perhaps more relevant now than when it was written.

I think it’s most relevant in terms of the phenomena of the entertainment backlog. My backlog is in video games, and I will be discussing gaming, but your backlog may be books, film, or television.

I immerse myself completely in games media. I read gaming websites, listen to gaming podcasts, and watch gaming videos online. Each outlet feeds me advertisement after advertisement about the newest and greatest games. I want them all, and honestly, if I scrimped in other places, I could afford to buy all of the games that I really want to play, but I wouldn’t have time to play them. In gaming circles this is a prevalent phenomena- they call it the backlog, and discussions of how to approach the gaming backlog are common online.

Gamers buy more games than they have time to play, and they accumulate them in a queue that sits in the back of their minds and on their shelves. The backlog changes how the gamer interacts with the hobby. Instead of a game being something to enjoy, the game becomes an objective to finish. The game becomes a chore that the player must work through in order to give themselves permission to purchase another game. The player feels obligated to experience the game fully in appreciation for the art of it, but they force themselves through it quickly, even if they enjoy the game, and this leads to a reduced satisfaction overall.

The drive to purchase perverts the hobby, making the gamer addicted to purchasing new games instead of enjoying the experience and escapism of play. Reading reviews, looking for deals, and shopping becomes the new source of joy for the gamer with a backlog. It did for me.

This applies to other entertainment media. Buying a self-help book seems more rewarding than reading it. I’ve for sure had the joy sucked out of a television show because I felt pressured to keep up with the public discussion.

The stress to consume more and greater quantities of everything has invaded even the hobbies that I use to relieve my stress.

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