In case you've missed it, March 17 is the Whiny Post Day. Klepsacovic was the one who brought up the idea:
"On this day, bloggers everywhere are allowed to make one whiny post in solidarity with their fellow bloggers who are also making whiny posts."This is an opportunity I just can't ignore. If you just hate whiny blog posts, move along, come back tomorrow or go back to one of my previous posts. I don't think I normally whine a lot, so you should be pretty safe whatever post you pick. If nothing else, you can take the one from yesterday, which was on the sparkling, never-give-up side.
The biggest taboo
But if you don't mind a bit of melancholy, or even genuine sadness, feel free to stay. Because today I'm going to write about something that I've wanted to write about for a long time, but just haven't been able to vocalize in a manner that it doesn't come out as whiney, self-pitying and generally pathetic. I still hesitate. However, The Whiny Post Day gives me the perfect excuse to write about a topic, which normally would be unthinkable. A word that is far worse to say aloud than "Voldemort". The biggest taboo of our time, the unspeakable word, the crime and shame far worse any bank robbery or careless car driving.
If you dare say this word, if you dare admit that you are THAT, and that this fact sometimes - although not always - bothers you, you'll see people fleeing as if you had the worst of plagues. In their eyes you're carrying a disease, and you probably deserved to get it. You just don't get this without a good reason, so apparently there's something wrong with you.
Take a deep breath. Yep. I'm going to talk about feeling lonely.
Lonely in a multi-player game, where the biggest problems for everyone else seems to be that the limit of the friends list is too low.
Isn't it strange how much you can be on your own, with hundreds, thousands, yes, even millions people around you?
A geek personality
I guess it's partly a matter of personality. I've always been geek, a nerd, an alien, outsider, call it whatever you want to. I always had top grades at school, which definitely wasn't a merit on the schoolyard. I was never one of the sparkling girls with a blond ponytail and a neat shirt, always giggling, always the center of the attention at the schoolyard, moving around as a group. I saw it from the sideline. Most of the time I was actually quite happy with this. After all they were superficial, not to say stupid. I chose not to participate. At least that was what I told myself. But to be truthful I don't think I was entirely pleased with it all the time. Deep inside I wanted to be loved, seen, appreciated, befriended. Like anyone else. Geek or not.
You could think that when you come online in Azeroth it should be different. You're not surrounded by the kings and queens of the schoolyard. There are tons of other nerds around, people like myself. And getting to know people online, without the barriers of prejudices and quick judgement due to looks, age and social status, should be way easier. And still somehow it isn't. At least not for me.
As I look around me I see groups of players who either are real life friends or have been playing with each other since vanilla. My common sense tells me that it's natural that it happens, that some people sort of gravitate to each other and enjoy playing together and that you can't expect them to let in a newcomer into their well functioning little family which is fine just as it is. You can apply to a guild but not to a group of friends. I know they don't owe me anything and that they deserve to have fun on their own. Most of the time I succeed pretty well. I'm mature and I let go and I don't care. But sometimes I just sort of go backwards in my psychological progression, ending up at the mental age of 12. And in those moments I don't just feel sad and lonely, but also ashamed because I have those feelings. At my age you should know better.
Getting friends in WoW
How do you develop friendships in WoW? That's something I've been asking myself many times. The friends I've had over the years have been few and far between, and they tend to quit the game, cut down or drift away for one reason or another. How do you get new ones? I may be wrong, but I have a theory that it was way easier to get friends when the game was young, everyone was levelling, all was new and the online resources weren't as available so you had to help each other the best you could. And besides there were group quests with real elites, that actually required cooperation. You had a reason to talk to people, and those conversations could turn into something more. Today - not so very much.
But doesn't Larísa belong to a guild? you may wonder. And sure I do, and I love and respect it deeply! Don't think anything else! But a raid guild is in the end quite much run like a business - it's in the nature of it, and as many players either don't play much between raids, or already have their friendships very well settled, it isn't the most fertile ground for getting to know new people. It would be to expect too much to think that you'll become close friends with people just because you're raiding together. Especially if you never were a sparkling girl but a geek who were standing by the sideline.
I don't know what there is about me that keeps me at a distance. Admittedly I've always been crap at getting and maintaining close friends in real life, so I guess it's somehow in my personality. And then there is the age difference. I don't say that there aren't players like me - WoW.com even wrote about a 76 year old player the other day - but I guess I AM a little bit of a strange bird. Many of the players I meet could be my children. It's no wonder if they hesitate to get closer. I'm a grown-up and, and even if I'm childish and playful, that will shine through sometimes.
A little bit of hope after all
This is a whiny post. And now I have whined for a bit, feeling sorry for myself. Enough of this. I will cheat now (sorry Klep!) and add a little bit of hope and light towards the end. There are other perspectives that makes the darkness crack up a bit:
- Being lonely isn't necessarily a bad and scary thing. Forget about the taboo crap. Forget about the expectations that you SHOULD have friends. Let's use the word "solitude" instead. I'm not the worst person to be with. I should take the opportunity to get to know myself a bit better. Maybe I'll even learn to like myself!. Maybe I should rather enjoy the freedom and the peacefulness that solo playing actually offers. If you don't have any obligations and duties towards your "friends", you're free to do whatever you want to for however long you want to, without considering anything but your own interests. That's quite relaxing, a change to the group dynamics at work and in your family. It's actually an asset as much as it possibly could be a burden.
- I may spend a lot of non-raiding time on my own in-game, but when I'm offline I've got the entire WoW blogosphere to correspond with and relate to. Some of the bloggers are more than just providers of entertainment or information. They're actually friends. Take Gnomeaggedon for instance. We may not play on the same server, but he knows my writings so well that he can spot even the slightest signs of disharmony appearing in my blogposts, and you can be sure that he'll send me a concerned e-mail, asking me what's up. like any real friend would do.
- And finally there's SAN at Argent Dawn, a reservoir of openness, friendliness and chattiness, where there aren't any set patterns and already set social circles. It's fantastic to slip in there and not only get greetings from everyone online, but also get whispers from people, asking me to join a five-man run or just wanting to talk about something. It brings me a new dimension to the game that I had more or less given up on.
Your cheerful, sunny innkeeper, bringing energy and optimism to Azeroth will soon be back again.
End of Epic Whiny Rant.