Historically I haven’t put a lot of faith into the idea of friends and family. Often I make half-jokes about being a robot in response to my disconnected outlook. I’ve talked about it to some extent across a few different blogs on here. I’ve not been shy regarding my problems, and I’m sure most of my issues comes from my upbringing coming from “a broken home” as they conveniently sum up a usually complex aspect core to the root of your identity. From my perspective it was my father being an alcoholic and the fallout spawning from that. Constantly moving, parents divorcing, never seeing a healthy romantic relationship to learn from, and the complications of being a child trying to understand that your father puts your physical well being at risk on a near weekly basis. I have a brother, sister, and mother that went through it too. Unfortunately we all kind of struggled with it in our own ways individually, never having our own feet beneath us enough to be able to support each other. Since as far back as memory goes I’ve pretty much felt alone in the world because of all of this. I’m sure it plays a part in when I’m suffering from depression more often than I’d like to admit… and no, knowing there’s a problem doesn’t make it just disappear like movies lead you to believe. It helps you understand yourself a bit more, why you have the behavioral systems that you do, but it doesn’t let you just rewrite your code. Point and case I’m regularly effected by my social anxieties that keep me from making new friends or letting the existing ones in. I still have an incredibly small social circle offline. Even within that collection of the few precious people kind enough to consider me their friend I have an issue with barriers and giving others the opportunity to help me. Through a lack of self-worth I rather fail on my own then ask for help regardless of how steep the costs are as I don’t think others should waste their time on me.
Enter the world of the internet… Well, at least the general use of it by most people. In this beautiful age people are kept at a safe distance that I’m comfortable with. If I feel like I’m a bother I can vanish. If we’re having a good time I can stretch it out indefinitely. If someone pisses me off I can ignore them a lot easier than if I had to see them on a daily basis through school, work, or whatever gatherings we might cross paths at. It makes relationships feel safe because they seem optional, disposable, and within my control. Emphasis on seem because that’s never really the case. Even before social media really hit it’s stride with Facebook, these connections were a thing I could experience through MMOs like EverQuest. I was among others like me in those shared virtual worlds with hundreds of other players. Immediately there’s already the fact that we all have an appreciation of video games. From there you’d further reach out socially because the game demanded you team up in order to advance in the world. Like meeting coworkers and forming bonds through shared labor, EverQuest had you slaying monsters together, relying on each other to do each of our parts and creating the start of a relationship. It’s hard to explain to someone that hasn’t come up from having nothing in the form of affection or reliability in others, but that was a huge step for me into realizing not everyone in the world was a horribly wretched and selfish being. Playing as a tank in the group I needed to know the healer was going to keep me alive, the DPS was going to kill the monsters before the healer ran out of mana, and an enchanter would keep the fight from being overwhelming by stunning any additional monsters. My piece of the puzzle was to keep the monsters beating on me so everyone else could survive. I’m sure there’s some self-analysis we could do on why I decided to make that character but all that matters is everyone had a role to play, I had a place I belonged.