Four Years of Thought

This is going to be a bit of an odd video this morning, and largely one without any screenshots.  There has been a side project that I have been working on for some reason.  Like I am not purposefully being vague, but more that I am not entirely certain why I started down this path or what exactly has kept me going.  In theory it is going to lead to some sort of a year end post, but I am still working out the details there.  The important part is that this side project has caused me to go back through every post between 2013 and 2016… aka the period where my blog has actually been prolific.  For reference… there are a little shy of 1500 posts on this blog, and all but about a hundred of those have occurred during the window above.  It is really when I started doing the daily posting thing, that my blog became of any actual relevance…  and even then I have backed off that significantly with only doing week day posts.  The strange thing about this process is that you can learn an awful lot about yourself when you sift through roughly four years worth of posts… or in truth 45 months.  It was bizarre seeing how I have changed and how my thoughts have evolved during that period.  I’ve always prided myself in being someone in a constant state of flux… picking up new ideas, evaluating them and then either keeping my old one… or jettisoning it in favor of the new information.  This is extremely evident when you look at that first year versus what I am currently writing.

The weirdest take away that I was not expecting…  is that I am simply not interacting with other bloggers as much as I used to be.  At face value that seems odd because I am actually talking to other bloggers on a daily basis be it through social media, a private chat network like slack/discord or now the brand new Imzy forum.  What I mean instead is that there is not quite the blog to blog exchange of ideas that there once was.  While going through my posts I noticed that so often there was another blog post that would ultimately spawn me to talk about the same issue, or a tweet that kicked off an idea.  That just isn’t happening nearly as much as it once did, and I think that is a multi fold issue.  Firstly I am much more sluggish in reading blog posts than I used to be, thanks to trying to write a blog post column…  and as a result ballooning my RSS feed to include over six hundred gaming blogs.  However the other thing going on is that it feels like as a broad community we are simply not creating the same gaming think pieces that we once did.  We are no longer dragging out mechanics and tropes and investigating what works or does not work about them.  That is not to say that some people are not doing this…  but it feels like less of the community is and as a result the constant flow of ideas is not really there.

The other thing that I noticed is how much of a chilling effect Gamer Gate had on our community as a whole.  There are a whole lot of folks who simply left the game blogging community during that time and have never really returned.  Some of my most constant collaborators from the past…  simply don’t blog about games anymore.  Even more however seemed to greatly reduce their regular posting around that time.  It is as though we all got afraid to talk to one another, at least in a public venue like our blogs.  Now that same discourse is happening, but it is playing out through walled gardens like slack and discord, and not out there in the open for anyone to spawn an additional topic off of.  I know that personally I am significantly more guarded for fear of a wave of horribleness washing over my blog and sweeping me out to sea. The fear of this wave however has eroded more of the community than the wave probably could have itself.  The new normal after these events seems to be that we largely have kept our thoughts to ourselves, or shifted our attention to other communities to talk about.  Movies and Media for example seems to be a popular offshoot from our community for example.

I am not really presenting any remedy here, but just mourning the way the community felt… and how it influenced my blog.  I’ve always been a bit of an island here on the Aggronaut, but in the past I would take in ideas from outside myself…  sift through them and present them in my own way, and I just find myself not doing that nearly as much as I once did.  I think there is a general feeling that something is missing however, because of the rapid effect that a random twitter storm ended up spawning the Imzy forum.  I think there is a general sense that something changed, without a real understanding of how to get back to normal afterwards.  I might just be talking out of my ass here, but I have definitely felt it and for the last year and some change I have largely felt “off balance”.  It is only recently that the clouds have felt like they have tangibly parted for me… and that I can once again see any glimmer of the sun.  The past year and a half has been a time when we are constantly barraged with a shit storm of forces well beyond our control, and I honestly felt battered by it to the point of not being able to think much past the current week.  Things are not better, in fact things seem to be getting worse… but in many ways it feels like I maybe have my “sea legs” and have figured out how to return to some sense of stability.  I am attempting to stream again… and I am contemplating trying to reboot “Bel Folks Stuff”.

Literally everything in this post might just be a “from my perspective” sort of thing.  Maybe it is just me who has been in an odd place, and have detached from the community.  My entire life I have alternated between periods of engagement and periods of retraction when things got too chaotic.  I tend to think of these as “turtling” when I pull my head back up inside of my shell.  The past year has felt like one long turtle period, where I was constantly in hiding from whatever perceived thing was chasing me.  All of that said… it still feels like our community has also retracted during that same period.  Folks are largely doing their own thing now and I think in a large part it has been our way of forward momentum.  I guess I am ready to poke my head back out and return to what used to be “normal”.  I am wondering if others are feeling the same thing.  I am not happy with myself, and have not been for a very long time… but that too can change.  I realize this is a bit of an odd morning post, but it largely has some things that I have been mulling over and wanted to throw out there.  Reading four years of your own writing can make you extremely introspective… and in truth I wouldn’t suggest doing it.  That said I still think the project I am currently working on is going to be interesting at least.

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