It was my brother’s 25th birthday party, over seven years ago. We had only a stay-at-home affair planned – my Mom had baked a cake and we’d had supper in. It was just myself, Mom, and my brother’s (current, this is important, trust me) girlfriend, and my brother. We hadn’t yet actually had the food, or the cake, when the doorbell rang.
The girl at the door was his ex girlfriend. She arrived without having phoned beforehand. With her, she brought three things:
- a birthday card
- a framed photograph of her and my brother
- and a gigantic cookie she had baked for him.
Needless to say, the following hour was not a comfortable one. It was so uncomfortable, in fact, that my Mom likes to remind me that I phoned up a friend on the sly and said, “Hey, want to go for coffee?” and then pretended that I’d planned to go out all along as I sped out the door with a breezy, “See you later!”
I remember leaving them all sitting at the kitchen table, current and ex girlfriend on either side, and my brother in the middle.
Say it with me now:
I don’t bring this up now because I’m the world’s meanest person, or I want to reflect on the feelings that would drive someone to come across as so, well, let’s face it…desperate. She knew my brother had a new girlfriend. They’d broken up over a year before, but she chose to drop by, hoping to…win him back? Remind him how awesome she was? I’m not sure. But I can relate to the feeling of clinging to something that’s probably run its course. In fact, when it comes to WoW it can be all too easy to do.
Very strong ties can be forged online, I think (I hope) we’ve all experienced how great it can be to play a game you enjoy with people you’ve met. But as Voss is constantly reminding me, the internet is a nebulous thing. In the two years that I’ve played WoW, I’ve had good friends, and they’ve gone on to do other things. Sometimes it’s harder when you don’t get any closure – someone just goes offline, or server transfers without a word. It’s not like there was a huge blow-up or fight, but they’ve clearly moved on. My unofficial rule is one point of contact, and then it’s over.
When we “split” with our former server and transferred to raid on another, not all of our friends were too happy about it. I hoped we could stay friends, but some reactions were pretty unpleasant. I did send an e-mail or two, before I realized that it was pointless to pursue something that really had no future. The biggest thing we had in common was the game – why belabor something that had run its course? It was better to just let it go. Even now I occasionally miss some of those people, and I think about e-mailing or dropping by their server to say “hi,” but I always stop myself. The friendship can’t exist the way that it did, and so it’s better for all of us to just not go there.
This isn’t to say you can’t stay friends with people if your server, guild or even faction affiliation changes. Sometimes you can, and sometimes it’s better if you just don’t. The trick is to learn to discern the difference between the two.
This is somewhat related to the previous point, because naturally you often become good friends with the people in your guild. But the guild exists separately from the friendships, an entity unto itself. Whatever the guild’s focus is – PvP, PvE and raiding, or roleplay – people change, and so do their goals and wishes within the game. The casual, friendly guild you joined to level up when you first started playing may no longer fit your burning desire to raid end-game with like-minded people. It doesn’t mean you suddenly hate everyone in the other guild, but you may have to make a choice to change in order to do what you want to do.
It’s not an easy decision to make, but in the long run both you and your former guild mates will probably be happier for it. If you’re staying in a guild out of a sense of obligation or inertia, people around you can sense it. If you leave before things start to sour, there’s still a chance you can retain the friendships you value.
Maybe it’s that arena team you agreed to join, or the raiding you were really gung-ho about, and unfortunately you found out that you don’t enjoy it the way you thought you would. I don’t advocate leaving people in the lurch – if you’ve made a commitment, you should honour it. But your first priority should be yourself – if it’s not fun any more, set an end-date for it, or talk to the people your decision will affect, and try to come up with a compromise. Don’t keep making yourself do something you don’t want to do. It’s a game, and you should be having fun.
Naturally this can intersect with either of the previous topics; you joined a raiding guild, so you can’t really get too bent out of shape to realize that… it requires raiding commitments. But if it’s not working for you any more, most raiding guilds have some provisions in place for social members. You can always step down from the active roster but remain in the guild.
Most people who write blogs are usually avid blog-readers. I’ve definitely heard an ongoing complaint from other bloggers about their massive, unwieldy blogrolls. What I have to say might sound a bit callous, but I’m going to say it anyway: cut that thing down to size! Feel no guilt. I think the problem is that we tend to associate a blog more with a person than content. So taking them off the blogroll might feel a bit like, “I don’t like you any more.” It isn’t, though.
I don’t know about you guys, but my work and other commitments can severely limit the amount of time I have available to read blogs in a given day. I have to be pretty ruthless about what I take the time to read, and it was an adjustment for me. When work wasn’t busy, I had all the time in the world, I could read any blog I liked. Nowadays, I’m pretty judicious about new blogs I add, and I do sometimes regretfully remove (usually inactive blogs) or blogs that aren’t speaking to me any more.
It’s cliche, but “It’s not you, it’s me,” really applies here. It could be a blog about a class I don’t play as avidly. Speaking from my own point of view, I’d rather someone not read my blog than feel they have to read it but it’s kind of boring to them. I get that you don’t hate me. It’s okay.
Even when I don’t actually remove a blog – I’ll admit, I use “Mark all as read” liberally. Some blogs update more often than I can keep up. I might skim to see if a topic really interests me and then read more in-depth and comment. I know everyone loves comments. But when there’s no time for that… there’s always Twitter, right? (140 characters is just right for small procrastination breaks).
So whatever it is… if you feel you might be clinging to something that’s just over (or should be), take steps to rectify or change the situation so that you can have fun again. It might be something I didn’t cover here, I don’t know, but I suspect you will.
In the situation I described before I left a bad situation on my old server, the stress and drama was making me physically ill. I had recurring, painful migraines and bouts of inexplicable nausea. Yes, I know, it’s “just a game,” but it can have a way of making itself pervasive. We can all take this game pretty seriously sometimes. But your subconscious often knows what’s best for you, and it’s telling you somehow or other. Don’t be a “quitter,” but don’t jeopardize your own health and well-being either.
And don’t drop by to visit any ex-girl or boyfriends. You’ll thank me later.