Getting Back on the Nightsaber
I don’t talk about my personal life, and I don’t share my feelings.
This isn’t just a mantra for keeping my sanity while blogging – it’s how I am outside of World of Warcraft and the blogosphere as well. If you’re not a blood relation, or perhaps one of three other very close friends, I don’t speak to you about my private life. Co-workers who worked with me for years can attest to this, as can some of my “best friends” over the years. I’m an intensely private person.
I’m telling you this before I explain my absence from blogging so that you can understand why writing this has been difficult for me. In my experience, sharing personal details and displaying emotion is an expression of weakness, and I especially don’t like to feel weak.
Why WoW Matters to Me
I discovered World of Warcraft during a particularly bad time in my life. A relationship had gone south, I’d received a promotion at work but it meant moving away from a group of co-workers I loved and to a new city where I knew absolutely no one. Money was tight, despite the promotion, and I was feeling down on myself for not having returned to graduate school yet. It was the perfect time to find an escapist addiction like WoW.
The first two years I played were the worst. It wasn’t until a year or so in that I really started participating in end-game content, and probably later than that when I started raiding with any frequency. It didn’t matter, though, because WoW was goal-focused enough even for the solo player that it could keep my interest for hours on end. Add a guild and a few new friends to the mix, and I suddenly found myself spending every spare hour I could online. I would play so long that I ended up only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep before needing to go back into work the next morning. I used a ton of coffee, and eventually caffeine pills, to attempt to counteract my lack of energy. I would nap in my office at work in the hour I had alone before my employees came in. In what felt like no time at all, I turned myself into a Cautionary Tale.
I fixed it, more so out of necessity than any nobler motivations. I forced myself to get up and get out, and regulate the time I spent playing. I joined a new guild, one that was focused on casual raiding but was large enough that I could take time off when I needed to and not worry that I was letting anyone down. I’ve kept myself on a stricter schedule ever since then, and promised myself that WoW will never again become more important than the real world to me. The one amazing thing that came out of those first two years, however, was meeting Mike (who regular readers will know as “the Pink Kitty”).
I’m too private and too shy to describe the details of our friendship and eventual relationship here. Suffice it to say that Mike has been the most positive and uplifting outside force in my life, and that we would not know each other if it weren’t for World of Warcraft. After a year of meetings, discussions, and waiting, Mike moved from the West Coast to the East Coast where we bought a house together. Like many other couples who’ve met through WoW, I don’t exactly hide this information, but I also haven’t openly shared it in the past.
At the beginning of this year, Beruthiel wrote an incredibly honest post about her own experiences with a relationship that began through World of Warcraft. She published the article, in part, to remind people that while WoW may be seen as a negative influence in many people’s lives (as it nearly was in mine), the experiences we have while playing can be incredibly important and positive as well. Regardless of if I quit WoW next week, or if I play until the day that Blizzard shuts down the servers, I will always remember the impact WoW has had on my life when I look at the West Coaster who now sits on my very East Coast couch. If for no other reason than that, WoW matters to me.
Why Blogging Matters to Me
As I said, I didn’t get involved in raiding at the beginning of my WoW career. When I did, though, I was terrible. I’m not saying this in a self-deprecating humor way … I was quite simply a horrible player. I didn’t have enough basic knowledge to know what it was that I needed to know. Researching end-game information can feel like sinking into a pit of quicksand to a new player, so why not just bury your head in the sand and go on mashing buttons?
Eventually, and very slowly, I began to realize that I had to get better if I wanted to be taken seriously, and I certainly didn’t like feeling like a joke. I didn’t want to just ask questions, though, because that ran the risk of asking a stupid question, or one that betrayed just how little I knew about the class I was playing (Death Knight, at the time). Internet guides, and blogs in particular, ended up being an amazing way to figure out what sort of gear I wanted, and what buttons I was supposed to be hitting, and how I should adjust my talent tree. Reading blogs was the perfectly non-judgemental and unthreatening way for me to learn the things I needed to learn. If, by reading anything that I publish here, anyone else finds that same acceptance, then I’ve done my job.
However, since I eventually came to blogs because I was afraid of the disapproval and condescension I might find otherwise, I don’t know that I really prepared myself for how difficult it can be to be a part of this community at times. Bloggers (whether they’ll admit to it or not) want the approval of our readers. We want comments agreeing with us, or comments bringing up interesting counter-arguments we can discuss. But, too often, this isn’t what we get. I guess it’s human nature to want to correct what we think is wrong, so there are always more negative comments than positive. And because our forum is the internet, we are particularly susceptible to readers who like to argue for the sake of argument.
Debate can be fun, don’t get me wrong. I minored in philosophy in college, taught a few ethics courses after that, and spent a year in a philosophy master’s program; I liked logic-ing about logic. But I left that program because I grew tired of feeling like people were in a debate to win it rather than to learn something. Two people at opposite sides of the room shouting their position at one another isn’t a debate – it’s boring, and obnoxious. I’ve tried to talk the Pink Kitty out of saving people who are wrong on the internet many times, and I realize that for him (as for many people) it’s a lost cause. I just don’t have the stomach for it. If I don’t think you’re hearing the point I’m attempting to convey and merely talking over me, I’ll walk away.
Why I Took Time Off
The answer to this is in the first two sections of my post: I care about WoW and I care about blogging.
Since the release of Cataclysm, my guild has been hitting progression content very hard. 25 man raids are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and we run 10 mans (some progression, some for alts) every other day of the week aside from Friday. That is a lot of raiding for a “casual” guild. Add to that a full work schedule, my decision to return to school this fall, making time for exercise, and wanting to spend a meaningful amount of time with the Pink Kitty, and something had to give. In order to be able to keep playing WoW, I needed to stop writing about it. Whether I’ll find the time to post regularly now that my school semester is in full swing is questionable. All I know is that I want to find that time.
Beyond that – I got my feelings hurt. I posted an article that I knew would result in negative feedback, and I thought I had thick enough skin to handle it. I didn’t. I was unprepared for just how much opposition there would be to my opinion, and every word I read looked like a personal attack (and some of them were). I was angry at the feedback, and angry at myself for letting it get under my skin. I didn’t believe that the people commenting were taking the time to understand my point, and I just can’t stand fighting for fighting’s sake. So, true to form, I walked away.
Where I Stand
I should mention that I intend to leave comments open on this post, but that I’ll feel free to delete anything I want to. I don’t need a pat on the back, but I also don’t need to be told that I shouldn’t care about other people’s approval.
I do, however, want to thank those of you who are still reading this and who kept me on your RSS feeds despite the long absence. I also want to give huge tree-hugs to any of you who have spoken to me in the last year about aspects on this blog that have been helpful to you. Particularly, I owe a huge thanks to Johnnie at MMO Melting Point who took the time to send me an email reminding me that they’re still reading. I’m not sure how many of those emails got sent out, but it meant a lot to me to see that in my inbox.
I specifically never made a “closing shop” post because I never really wanted to leave. I still don’t. There are drafts sitting here waiting to be finished, conversations to butt into, and new ideas sprouting every day. Here’s to shaking off the dust and getting back on the horse … er, nightsaber in this case.