You’ve Been Playing A Video Game

You’ve been playing a video game and I’m sorry to learn it, but it beats not knowing. Everything coming clear means a great many embarrassments come into being. My worry now is watching tons of people playing pretend to manage with things they are ashamed to admit to doing, or having lost control of themselves and not being able to face it. They pretend. Pretend nothing changed, pretend everything is fine, pretend we are the people we have always been and no one and nothing influenced us to be anything worse.

 

Subscribers make sense to me. You get a sense of someone interested with a subscription. “Followers” sounds extremely shady to me, like a stalker; someone is following you around. Or having “followers” like a religious cult-leader. Yuck-O…

 

Friend can be a pivotal word. One needs to engage for a long time to earn that title and personal behaviour changes the out come as time moves along. Using a button which requests friendship is one of the sickest ventures I can recall ever going along with. This is a video game manoeuvrer. Just as a like-click is or some other method of relaying emotion or feelings with a button press. You’ve taken a video game controller to your loved ones and been amassing points from them and towards them with this method. This is why what is known as social media is so anti-social. Machine elements and scoring was given to you and some of you may have never even played a video game before or you had and decided you weren’t fond of them.

 

Humans generally require more complex attention and interaction. Narratives work for many of us as it shows behaviour that is somewhat natural minus certain outlandish parts that we understand are to make a story more interesting. This is why in most storytelling we have something called, “suspension of disbelief”. Another facet of enjoying fiction that I’m not too sure we’re being taught about these days.

 

Telephone calls work, even conversations by text that are fluid enough, letters work also when the structure is learned. Face to face socializing is the most direct method of communication. Without it we don’t learn very much. There is a saying, “Teaching by example isn’t the best way, it is the only way.”

 

Video games can be very fun and rewarding when what you are involved in is a complete fiction, just as board games can be. The reality is you are playing but the games themselves are a diversion from real life, something to enjoy and you sometimes have competition with fictional characters. Video games are safe when the world is fictional. Or perhaps it’s a flash-card game to improve one’s mathematics, language, or music reading skills. We have a lot of games in vision-therapy based on personal improvement alone.

 

What we have been experiencing with the rise of “social” networking is something that is extremely close to a video game. The tragedy is that it has involved real people with real lives. That’s why it is so unhealthy and had been destroying so many of our relationships. We knew something was “off” but it is addictive and occasionally useful so we keep using it. One thing that is natural about all of this is we humans often do things that are bad for us.

 

I’m grateful pinterest dispensed with their “like” button. I’m hoping other networks will follow that suit but I have my doubts. It is truly horrifying to see so many reasonable humans turn into image sharing robots in order to find out how many “likes” or points they will gain from it in a network group, but that is the big degradation to human personality that has taken place.

 


 

Now the question is: how do we find our way to a more healthy form of living again? Moreover, how do we deal with being taken advantage of and behaving badly? For myself, and other letter-writers, it’s so much easier than for others. I observe my own behaviour and try to apologize when necessary. I make efforts to find alternatives to stop my own madness. That’s why my embarrassment for using a social network after I log out goes down. I have come to realize that my more limited use is nothing near the continual excess of so very many more people than I can comprehend.

 

Actual video games, by computer or otherwise, not associated with any other person or connected to any network, has been a great form of “methadone” against desiring using “social” media. I’ve made that suggestion to pen friends, and even those I would never anticipate wanting to play them have admitted it’s a great idea. Even Klondike with a card deck on the screen. So that is a good first step.

 

Letter-writing for communication, even just by email, has also been helpful. If one has no pen pals, one can journal to themselves. Victoria Winters even wrote letters and mailed them to herself at the foundling home as a child. Talking on the telephone has also been a boon to me, especially the calls with better reception.

 


 

But as for the uncertainty? That might take something I can’t provide. Owning up to mistakes has been at a major low for some time now. Which brings more clarity for why Barnabas-haters became so prevalent. After his villainous tendencies wear off on Dark Shadows, he is often kicking himself for his wrongs and owning up to his mistakes where and when he can. In a world of encouraged narcissism this style of character, one that accounts for his errors, is not one that would be well-loved. I’d say there is no time like the present to start loving him and thinking of how he handles things to help you with owning-up.

 

So that’s one suggestion. There might be a therapy group near you to help “social” network users to go through the steps of recognizing what our mistakes have been. It’s often easier to take big steps if a group is involved, as humans do look for large groups to guide them, which is why a lot of this networking stuff grabbed us: so many others were doing it, and we were looking for our others.

 


 

What I see right now is that pretense, though. It’s a bit chilling but at least I know what it is and why it’s there. What one doesn’t understand is difficult to see, and very often we want a “simpler” explanation for it, so? We make one up! And if we find out we were wrong about it? We simplify that by pretending we never said it. Tough thing to do in this new world where almost everything is being recorded for documentation, isn’t it?

 

And this is likely why I terrify people; I understand this world because I intentionally lived in it with recordings and writing things down. I reflected on my words and the words of others since I was at least six years old. I also had people getting snooty about letters that I wrote when I was in my teens, none of which said anything horrible at all.

 

But that pretense, pretending nothing bad happened, is a rough path, my friends. It’s like trying to delete the obvious because it doesn’t suit your lifestyle. The more you try to do it, the more other things will arise that you have to pretend also don’t exist or didn’t happen. Similar with lying. One lie often leads to another until it’s a cascade and you get caught out.

 

This is why when I said “The Kinks” in my February 2018 Pit Update and discovered the band was really The Who, I went to two locations to put in a typed correction. (This web log and podomatic.) Did anyone catch that? I was quick about it! I suppose I could re-edit the track and release it without “The Kinks” but mistakes are a sad fact of life. And why bother editing more audio with an audience who barely listens or pretends not to be a listener? (Not all of you, of course, but a large number.) I made another mistake last June, I believe about The Addams Family and The Munsters airing dates. G’ah! But again, who really is paying any attention?

 

And yet, that’s how extreme the pretense has gotten. Coming to me to help with an error means you would have to (((gasp))) admit you are a listener of the show. That avoidance started so many years ago and you’re STILL trying to cover it up so… you can’t say anything.

 

You see? When you don’t own up the problem just gets bigger and bigger and bigger until you trap yourself. So all I can advise on that score is asking yourself, “What happened?” Try to remember how it started. Look for ways it might have made sense as to why you pretended something to begin with. Make observations.

 

I’m actually hoping that someone can own up because there are hundreds of others you just might relieve as it probably happened in the same way to them as well. Wouldn’t that be nice? Helping others to feel better? That’s one of the reasons accountability is such a wonderful thing. There was even a character made  out of it called Jiminy Cricket.

 


 

One scarier aspect of all of this is I didn’t realize, since I wasn’t on the “social” networks much, is we all were socializing with a video game system. I was engaged in a lot of activities, but one of the many things I was stuck to in 2013 was, in fact, a video game called Animal Crossing.

 

That particular game only has a monetary point system, really. You get fun stuff from that, but Animal Crossing has a knack for being a fictional world which navigates a great deal like real life. It’s enticing with cute animals for your neighbours who have recognizable patterns of behaviour that don’t repeat with others too often. Sending letters and receiving them with gifts can happen. There is a mailman, Pete, there is a mayor (who is usually asleep), a town hall, fishing, a museum, clothing store, a general store, cafe, bus to a city and back, and with internet access you can experience the Animal Crossing towns of others. I actually spoke with a microphone and speaker to many strangers who were quite nice and fascinating to talk to.

 

The structure of that video game was far more social than social networks have been for years. The passage of time plays an important role as well since there is gardening involved, day and night, seasons, holidays, special events, and extremely convincing conversation to where, although these are cartoon style animals, the chat feels as if one is in a real town with real individuals. Even if you wrote your neighbours an incomprehensible letter they would notice that it was incomprehensible. In comparison it feels far more like real life than social networks do, as if those networks are a less advanced and poorly engineered video game.

 

I was sated for comfort with Animal Crossing during a time so many others were being swayed into using a style of video game which encouraged less use of skills in the art of conversation than my cartoon birds, bears and cats were achieving in a fictional world that had been manufactured for Nintendo.

 

That’s what’s scary. I didn’t question a lack of comments for The Pit in most of 2013 because, not knowing about the traffic graph, I presumed no one had bothered with the textual version yet, or those who did decided it wasn’t their cup of tea. I had no idea people online were losing something that the “neighbours” in my Animal Crossing town had an automatic ability to do with programming which was that sophisticated. Video games were bringing forth fictional characters that could be more human than humans themselves.

 

It’s little wonder what is happening to us now echoes so many speculative and science-fiction stories. When I get a message with a lewd request I think, “What is this? ‘Logan’s Run?”

 

And this is also why some of us were taught those stories in school: to prepare us. I first read “The War of The Worlds” radio script in my 6th grade text book. (I got a cassette copy a year or two later.) Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio, folks! Similar stunts are done with television and now? “Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.” – Douglas Adams.

 

My Mum mentioned social media reminded her of “The Game” episode on Star Trek: The Next Generation. My friend, Melissa, was reminded of “Invasion of The Body Snatchers”. With the fandom politics trying to assimilate fans to a non-canon pairing? I’ve been reminded of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. And of course with the gas-lighting I heard and read on multiple levels, being told so much that obviously is untrue in real life and fiction? “1984” by George Orwell. Right now science-fiction and reality are blending too close for my own comfort!

 

It shows me how much I have come to truly admire Doctor Julia Hoffman. It isn’t likely she was pushed into becoming a doctor due to parental or peer-pressure. Against the expectations of her time period she became a doctor for herself. Another reason I appreciate Helena, Tiffany and Cassie writing on this web log to me about their longing for the Julia/Barnabas pairing, which is a healthy one in words to the effect of, “I enjoy it for me. It’s not for everyone.” This is what choice is all about and the freedom of that choice. Being different. That’s my own personal love for Doctor Hoffman. ❤

 


 

But for owning up to mistakes? I’m not sure what to advise. Perhaps you might go through old records, messages you’ve sent in a format that no one will distract you from them? Take steps into the last five years of what you’ve been saying or doing. Stop worrying about what everyone else is saying and concern yourself with yourself. That’s one thing this idea of constantly being “connected” ruined for us: Me-Time. Who wouldn’t go crazy starving for that?

 


 

Barnabas Collins was once dearly loved and one reason why is because he was sensitive, self-deprecating, loved his family and friends, turned from villain to anti-hero and then became the hero. A most progressive character. So progressive I can’t think of another that tops him. Like other vampires that came after him, he was aware of his curse, dreading the need to be a life that feeds off of other lives.

 

If that sounds familiar it ought to, because that is what we are. You don’t see cats in a state of remorse over a bird they’ve hunted down. It’s humans who have that remorse. We are the vampires feeding off of animals, but in other ways we also feed off of each other.

 

Why make a social network addictive? Money. Why make tasty food that isn’t nutritious for our fellow man? Profit. Why produce and sell movies interlaced with violence and spite? To catch viewers attention and increase the cash flow.

 


 

So if anyone has felt like a vampire enjoying The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows and hiding that you do? Barnabas Collins is the perfect role-model I can advise. Perhaps we can learn to love him again and not despise him so much. He does enough despising of himself on the show as it is.

Until next time? Play a video game, don’t let a video game play you. Turn off your smartphone, and log-out of your “social” network. Then find a really good game of solitaire and enjoy yourself. 🙂

 

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Instructional Manual (April/May 2018)

aprile 2018 update 2c

 

Basic information for various sites for this series and how to use them to comment on episodes; this is mainly in the direction of the url      https://thepitofultimatedarkshadows.wordpress.com/

Plenty of guidance in how to use these sites. Welcoming if a listener only wants to focus on a single character, fandom or cameo.

Old internet rules for The Pit Crew. What makes me happiest: Commentary. Examples: My reading of Tito’s commentary for “Episode 5: Saving Pop” and Lisa’s commentary for “Episode 15: A Blundering Succubus”. Some examination of Willie and Sarah’s interactions, as well as Maggie merging her memories together.

Discussion of the “Dark Shadows” movie and Lisa’s wonderful reaction to that, and how I altered my offering to introducing more people to the series when it became more easily available. Social media, where it comes from, and how complaining about the people in areas that it comes from is paradoxical to our current social behaviour. (If one hates people on the West Coast, how is it applicable to use the addictive social tools they build to complain about them?)

How critiquing once had socially redeeming value and then degenerated into “bash-culture”, which is, ultimately, bad for your health. Pen pal information for L.W.A. and how Hidden Object and I maintained our friendship. The importance of correspondence. Our natural reactions to light and movement.

My struggle against social media addiction and the rewarding results. Helping a new fan of Dark Shadows and sending DVDs to her of the original series while comparing what she already knew. Consideration of villains and how they blend in to the storytelling. The importance of villains in stories, basic and complicated concepts. News about Auntie, too. How, oddly in this age, letter-writing is managing better than solely using the internet.


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archive dot org link here

Also available on iTunes


 

Lyrics for our pen friends in this project:

Celebrate the pale dawn, celebrate the birdsong,
Celebrate, this is your time,
Although we live in the wreckage and on the faultlines.

And everything we own is not everything we are,
With every word we breathe, we live, we live again.

Celebrate, there is no fear now,
There is no fear now for us to feel.
Celebrate, there is no fear now,
There is no fear now for us to feel,
For us to feel.

 

(The London) Suede “Faultlines”