[Originally published on May 24, 2005 at www.bitcheswithglitches.com/nwn/.]
I don’t know why, I just do. I was never a good golfer. I was more of a “duffer” who swore a lot after she hooked or sliced yet another shot. But there was something beautiful about walking around in what is basically an immaculately manicured park swinging at a little ball with a stick. It is attractive to two parts of my psyche: the part that enjoys artificially enhanced nature and the bottomless well of anger and resentment.
Summertime. It’s almost here. I can sometimes feel it outside, the windows have been open for the last couple weeks and fresh air is circulating and I can hear the kitties and the squirrels and the birdies outside in the courtyard. And the sunshine makes this unbearable glare on the computer monitor so there are parts of the day where I just have to give up on the computer thing and nap in the warm glow.
I’m truly lucky to be living in Seattle where we don’t have weather, really. It’s either raining (and it’s seldom raining much, though we did have a thunderstorm last week that consisted of one rumbling, rolling thunder thing that probably wouldn’t even turn a Midwesterner’s head) or it’s “pleasant”. Never hot, except for maybe a week or two at the most in August. We’ll get maybe one snowfall a year with sometimes up to an inch or two (which will shut everything down, but it always happens at night and by the next day it’s all melted, but for that magical night, everyone pulls out their snowboards, cafeteria trays, cardboard boxes and goes for a slide down the Denny Way bridge over I-5 which you’d think is probably an extremely dangerous thing to do, and it probably is), but we barely got that this year and even less rain than usual so we get to enjoy a drought this Summer.
I recently read that Mayor Nickels is leading mayors across the U.S. in implementing the Kyoto Protocols in cities as much as they can. It’s starting to become a big deal. Cities, mostly on the coasts, but also those inland, are seeing the wisdom of Kyoto, even if our federal guvmint can’t see the forest for the clearcutting.
But I want to go golfing. I just do. I miss it. I miss the occasional amazing shot that goes from tee to green that fills me with joy (even though I’ll six-put after that and ruin the whole thing, but that doesn’t take away from the initial thrill, okay maybe a little bit).
I wanted to write an article about making friends.
I’m not sure if I have the qualifications to do that. But Owl did mention something that reminded me that I found the secret to making friends in online games. Not that it doesn’t make me a lot of enemies, attract stalkers and creeps and jerks like an electric magnet, and other side effects like ending up making friends with a lot of people you later find out aren’t worth two plug nickels. But nevertheless I found it out and I wasn’t even trying.
The actions you need to take are rather simple. Smile a lot. Say hello to strangers. Ask people if they need any help. Go on daring rescue missions for people who aren’t part of your “group”. Help people who aren’t in your group with quests (while making sure they get credit for any monsters, like in WoW, the person who hits the monster first gets to “loot” the monster after it has fallen, so you make sure they pick the target and start fighting it first, then you go in and help). Heal them if you can. Do damage if you can. “Buff” them (I hate that term) if you can. However you can help out.
The other thing is to go slowly. Don’t rush through the game like it is some timed obstacle course and you get a special prize for being the first one to reach the end. Look at the pretty pictures. Look in the nooks and crannies. Maybe you won’t find anything, but who knows? The important thing is to slow the hell down and just relax. It’s a game. You don’t get a special prize for being the first one to reach the level cap. Thousands of people have already done it, it’s not like it’s something rare or special. Just take time to enjoy your surroundings. Make every battle an epic one. Don’t let yourself get sucked into “grinding” away and counting up how many experience points you need for the next level.
If you’re out there having fun and meeting people and helping people and smiling and talking, you’ll get there, I promise you. You may not be the fastest or most “efficient”, but you’ll be enjoying every step of the way and you’ll be making friends because you’ll have a chance to actually talk with the people you’re playing with instead of using them as damage producers or healers or whatever there talent is. Make even the smallest connection with the person who’s playing the character. Don’t treat them as a “class” or a “profession” but as a person.
Call them “hon” or “friend” or “buddy” or whatever term of endearment feels right for you. It makes people feel good to be liked. Go out of your way to actually like other people. Treat them kindly and respectfully.
Ask for help when you need it, and even when you don’t.
You’ll find your friends list filled in no time flat, I guarantee you.
And you know what? For a brief moment of time in my life, I found that all of this translates almost word-for-word into offline relations with people. I was pretty amazed when I found that out. But it makes sense. All the “How To Make Friends And Influence People” self-help-crap books say basically the same thing. And while they may be trite and simple, that’s the key right there. Making friends is really and truly a simple thing.
The very important thing is breaking out of our own shells, because each and every thing above is a little peck at that shell. And when someone else feels you gently petting their shell, they just might peek their beak out to see who’s being so nice to them. It’s really an alien thing for people to actually be nice to other people. Yes, some people will run away from it. There’s no reason to go chasing after them, they’ll either get to a safe distance and maybe wave back or they’ll keep running. The important thing is to keep trying. It doesn’t all happen right away. It takes time. So don’t be discouraged if the first try doesn’t work out the way you intended. Just keep doing it. Make it a part of your personality.
If more people did that, we’d all be living in a much nicer world.
I won’t go into dealing with the stalkers and the creeps and the jerks and the asshats. That’s another post all in itself. Especially because it’s something I’m struggling with a lot right now. And it’s interfering with my ability to be with the people I want to be with. And I really don’t know what the answer is for me to come to peace with all of this, especially because Blizzard seems intent on making the game hostile to how I want to enjoy the game. (Virtually enforcing player-versus-player fighting, which is something I will never engage in, no matter how much crap they give away.)
Oops. About to go on a rant.
Keep it positive.
I also was going to write about how to be an “evil” character who is able to make friends, too, because I have some thoughts about that, but simply, you have to be really good at being evil and not just being a jackass, because there are plenty of jackasses and most of them consider themselves to be “good”, so just being a jackass doesn’t make you any more “evil” than any other jackass you meet on the street. Since I never play evil characters, I can’t really mentor someone who does. And truthfully, it’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. But I have heard stories of people who play successful evil characters and have the respect and friendship of many people in the game.
I suppose it’s not so different from some of the evil people offline who have plenty of friends and seem to be doing just fine in life. I don’t think a lot of them are suffering horribly on the inside because of it. Maybe some people are, but I’m not seeing a lot of instant karma except coincidental stuff. And Coincidence is not a Goddess, last I heard.
But perhaps She should be.