A week or so ago, I found myself accidentally playing the Sims. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I have deeply struggled with video game addiction for several years of my life. Throughout college, I logged over 1000 hours in Oblivion alone. I decided to quit cold turkey about a year ago when I made a pledge to be more analog, and fully shift towards minimalism.
Okay, full disclosure, my Xbox360 broke, and so did my soul. I was forced to quit by lack of funds and I had no way to get my fix. I’d donated all of my games and sold my iMac, and the few apps I had on my phone just didn’t immerse me enough.
When I sat down at my friend’s computer, tucking in to a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, I was delighted to see that she had the Sims 3 pulled up and paused. Gleefully, I dug into the brownie chocolate goodness and peered inward, customizing the game and “showing” my boyfriend how the game worked.
An hour and half a tub of ice cream later, I had my own sim and she was making her way through the world. I looked at the clock. It was way past my usual bed time, and I didn’t feel tired at all. I thought to myself, “I could play for 8 more hours with no problem.” Then I panicked. I looked at my boyfriend. “We need to go.” I said.
As we were driving home, I found myself confronted with the weight of my addictions settling in.
It’s been 12 days since that brief encounter, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I longingly logged on to Steam for the first time in 6+ months, and saw that the game was a mere $20. I became enraged for a second. Didn’t I already buy the game? Determined not to spend the same money twice, I spent two hours of my workday online with EA support trying to get my access codes to work. I never even connected with a real person.
In this process, I had to ask and old friend what my EA account was, and by the desperate way I was attempting to revive my old habits, he immediately surmised what was going on.
At the end, he made an offhand comment about staying away from the microwave brownies, another old vice of mine from the heavily addicted days, and it was like salt in a wound. My relapse begs the question: what am I so stressed about that I just can’t deal with?
Meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling, blogging, writing, cooking, math, reading, exploring the city, hanging out with friends, going to parties… All of my coping mechanisms and hobbies have brought me joy in this past year, but what itch can they just not scratch?
It seems I can’t figure out the true core of my stress that causes me to sink back into these old patterns.
I’ll end with a quote from the only art my mom ever had on her bedroom walls. It was a poster that was titled Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Star Trek.
Halfway down, in tiny block letters, stood the quote:
Having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”
I don’t know what I need right now. I don’t know if I need to want something, or if I need to have something. And until I figure that out, I think I’m going to play some Skyrim. See you guys again in 1000 hours.
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