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kortheo

My Journal - Travis

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Day 88

Today is a good day. Just got lunch with a coworker, work is going well, and it's nearly vacation time!

I went to my trivia group last night. I had almost forgotten about it, but Google Calendar saved the day :). I met a few new people at the event last night, which was great. I saw some people who had been at the ugly sweater party last weekend (same meetup group) so it was nice to see them again. There's one girl there who I want to talk with more... I didn't really get a chance to talk with her much directly at the party but I got the feeling she was interested in me, and she tried to talk to me a couple times at trivia. It was hard because we were seated at opposite ends of the table. I can't even recall her name, but she's cute and I found myself glancing her way more than I expected. So I'm hoping she'll come back to trivia. I know, I know, I'm always talking about girls... let's move on :P.

What's also good is that the organizer for the meetup group has some mutual friends with me, so we're all going to hang out next Monday and get drinks. I haven't seen said mutual friends in along time (I met them through a local reddit group a couple years ago), so it will be cool to see them too. The more offshoots I can create from meetup groups into private groups, the better, I think. This is often how real friendships form and deeper in my experience.

So yeah. It feels like my social circles are continuing to expand which is great! It's nice to know that my efforts being put into socializing are continuing to show payoffs and growth. I just have to remember that back on October 31st before I went to that Halloween party, I basically had no social life. I have made great progress, and if I continue to put effort into it things will continue to improve!

Gratitude

I'm considering shaking up my gratitude habit. I'm feeling diminishing returns from simply writing out 10 things every day. I think I'm going to order a Five Minute Journal, and start doing that daily instead. http://www.fiveminutejournal.com/ It seem to expand upon the intent of the gratitude habit, but it's more diverse and emotionally challenging.

Now that I think about it, habits can sort of level up over time. Once you get good at something, you can find ways to change it and deepen it. So I started with 3 gratitude items, then 10, and now I'm moving onto the 5 minute journal. With body-weight exercises, I've been doing push-ups every day, and I have moved up to diamond push-ups instead of regular ones, etc.

But until I get that journal, here are my items:

  1. My job.
  2. My coworker, Mike.
  3. Feeling relaxed.
  4. Things going well.
  5. Meeting new people at trivia.
  6. Being more organized
  7. My health.
  8. Free lunch.
  9. Feeling included and a sense of belonging.
  10. Time to work on personal projects over my vacation.

EDIT:

Actually, I have some more thoughts. When I added "Feeling included and a sense of belonging" as a gratitude item, that was the first time I realized I am feeling that right now with certain friends and groups. This is a something that has been missing from my life for a long time, and that I've struggled with my entire life. There have only been a few periods where I actually felt like I belonged and was comfortable in my social environment, and felt like people actually liked me for who I was. The fact that I'm starting to feel this is huge for me, and an achievement, and I shouldn't downplay it to myself.

EDIT 2:

Also this

http://markmanson.net/be-patient

Edited by kortheo

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One way to level up your gratitude journal could be to take a minute and really feel gratitude in your body for the specific things you reference. If you're not doing that already. :)

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One way to level up your gratitude journal could be to take a minute and really feel gratitude in your body for the specific things you reference. If you're not doing that already. :)

Yeah, definitely. I do try to do that sometimes, although I admit that these days I frequently rattle off 10 things without feeling gratitude as fully as I should. I would venture a guess that taking the time to feel it fully is more important than the number of things you can come up with.

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One way to level up your gratitude journal could be to take a minute and really feel gratitude in your body for the specific things you reference. If you're not doing that already. :)

Yeah, definitely. I do try to do that sometimes, although I admit that these days I frequently rattle off 10 things without feeling gratitude as fully as I should. I would venture a guess that taking the time to feel it fully is more important than the number of things you can come up with.

That's undoubtedly true.  Even so, I would hope that you find a sense of joy just from knowing that your mind can quickly identify things you are thankful for.  I think that shows that you've been successfully training your mind to notice the good in your life!

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One way to level up your gratitude journal could be to take a minute and really feel gratitude in your body for the specific things you reference. If you're not doing that already. :)

Yeah, definitely. I do try to do that sometimes, although I admit that these days I frequently rattle off 10 things without feeling gratitude as fully as I should. I would venture a guess that taking the time to feel it fully is more important than the number of things you can come up with.

That's undoubtedly true.  Even so, I would hope that you find a sense of joy just from knowing that your mind can quickly identify things you are thankful for.  I think that shows that you've been successfully training your mind to notice the good in your life!

Oh definitely! I mean I certainly have noticed it making a difference in my life. I do feel more grateful in general and happier in general. Not saying it's a bad habit, I just want to try something new :) 

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Day 89

I had an awesome night last night. I went to a new meetup for the first time: Oceanside Brain Science Meetup! It's basically a bookclub with a focus on neuroscience, psychology, etc. It was held at a really awesome cafe that's only 5 minutes away from me, and yet I didn't even know existed. They have an upstairs with separate little rooms so you can have group discussions and even close the door. The whole vibe of the place reminds me of my college town. That alone makes last night great because I could see it becoming a hangout spot for me.

But the event itself was great too. It was a discussion group of 7 people. We were discussing the book The Shallows, which I had read a few years back. In a nutshell it's saying that internet use, due to its inherently distracting and multimedia nature, is changing our brains to constantly seek new information, which ultimately hinders our ability for deep, concentrated thinking. It's more complicated than that, and goes into a history of intellectual technologies and how they have changed how we think, but that's the gist. Everyone there was intelligent and had interesting things to say, and I felt like I fit right in. I have a strong intellectual streak that was really in full force in college, but since graduating I've felt it be pushed aside a little bit - it felt good to be able to engage in discussion that I found meaningful and express myself intellectually, since I don't get many opportunities for that. Groups like these don't seem super common where I live, so I feel like I found a little gem. I will definitely be back. They meet once per month; next month we're reading This Will Make You Smarter.

Tomorrow is Day 90, and the first day of my vacation. Perfect timing!

Gratitude

  1. Oceanside Brain Science Meetup
  2. Hill Street Cafe
  3. Upcoming vacation
  4. Great conversation
  5. Evernote - again!
  6. Having a job I look forward to going to
  7. Not having to worry about money (emergency fund!)
  8. Serial (podcast)
  9. Sense of belonging
    EDIT:
  10. Forgetting the 10th gratitude item
Edited by kortheo

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That sounds like a great meetup in a great spot!

I didn't read those books. Tomorrow I'm going on vacation too and I was looking for something to read after Radical Acceptance. They sound like a good pick.

By the way, how did you like Radical Acceptance? A few days ago you mentioned you gave yourself permission to not finish a book. Was it that one?

Have a great time on your vacation!

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That sounds like a great meetup in a great spot!

I didn't read those books. Tomorrow I'm going on vacation too and I was looking for something to read after Radical Acceptance. They sound like a good pick.

By the way, how did you like Radical Acceptance? A few days ago you mentioned you gave yourself permission to not finish a book. Was it that one?

Have a great time on your vacation!

Yeah, I stopped about half-way through Radical Acceptance. It just felt a little repetitive to me and I didn't feel like I was continuing to get much out of it after a certain point. That said, the core idea is great and I'm glad I read what I did. If you're interested, there is a Tim Ferriss interview with Tara Brach too, which is how I learned about the book.

I'm currently reading The Way of Men which I'm liking more than I expected. It's helping me understand my own masculinity better, which is something I've struggled with for a long time. After I finish it I'm going to listen to this Mating Grounds podcast interview with the author.

After I finish that, I'm going move onto the bookclub book I mentioned, This Will Make you Smarter. :)

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I just finished reading Being The Strong Man A Woman Wants. Took me an hour on my flight home so I was pretty excited about that. I'll check out The Way of Men. Another good book on Masculinity is Iron John.

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Day 90
 
Welcome to a very special entry in my journal. It's a long one, so strap in. I've made it to Day 90! This was the initial goal I set when I started out with GameQuitters - a 90 day detox from video games. This has probably been the longest I've gone without video games my entire life, and it has been quite the journey.
 
I'm envisioning this post as something that a newbie could read to get a sense of what is possible with GameQuitters. I have seen so much personal growth and change in my life in the last 90 days that I feel can be directly attributed to my quitting video games, and I want to represent that here. I want to give a sense of where I've been, where I was when I started GameQuitters, and where I'm heading now.
 
Beginnings
 
I grew up gaming. I remember when I was 4 or 5 we temporarily had an NES at my house that I would play. I think it belonged to a family friend or something. Well, I got hooked. But eventually it got taken away, and I remember screaming and crying and being so upset that I couldn't play it anymore. Eventually, my parents caved and bought me my own. So it goes.
 
I had a number of consoles over the years and eventually got into PC gaming, which was my true love, I suppose. I never really got into MMOs, but was rather drawn to mentally-demanding RTS and CRPG games. Anything that challenged my intellect or capacity for strategy or tactics I enjoyed. The more difficult, the better. Moreso if it had an engaging story with compelling characters. By the time middle school and high school rolled around, gaming was my primary hobby. I always did well in school, but beyond academics and games, I didn't have all that much going on in my life. My social skills suffered because the vast majority of my free time was spent gaming rather than participating in life or activities. This isn't a coincidence - I had experienced rejection in school as so many have, and I'm sure games held all the more appeal because of that. It was a way to enjoy myself that didn't require any social risk, or me stepping out of my comfort zone. It was an easy way to meet my needs, but not one without consequences.
 
If there was one thing that I wish were different about my youth, it's that my parents had taken a more active role in my life growing up. There wasn't much push from them for me to really do any particular activities or push me out of my comfort zone, or to limit the amount of time I spent on computers or games or the internet. My grades were always fine, and that was all they really cared about. But I think now that I would have been much better off had I been exposed to other experiences when I was younger instead of just playing games.

I have an uncomfortable memory that has stuck with me to this day. I was sitting in a car at night with my brother-in-law. I was probably early teens, he was probably late 20s at the time. He's a man of few words, and after a silence he simply said "If you keep playing those games, Travis, life is going to pass you by." I didn't respond, and the words just sort of hung in the air as we continued to sit in silence. I remember feeling such a mixture of feelings at the time - anger, because I felt insulted and thought he was wrong and didn't know what he was talking about, that I'd prove him wrong, etc - and yet also shame and fear, because a part of me knew that he had to be right, that I was missing out on things, that there were negative consequences to my gaming lifestyle. Clearly those around me could see that my gaming was problematic and limiting me as a person.
 
The "Most Fun" Thing
 
Once I got to college, my gaming dropped off some, but never disappeared entirely. I remember I once told a couple of gamer friends during a night of StarCraft II matches that for me gaming was the "most fun" thing in life. They had to stop and wonder if it was true for them, too. It definitely was for me at the time - gaming has a way of making everything else seem dull and unstimulating by comparison. Upon reflection, it's kind of sad that I looked up to gaming in this way, not seeing what else there was in life.
 
I did have some good times in college, and found some degree of social success. It seemed like I was happiest when I was gaming the least, because I was too busy socializing. After college though, my social network fragmented and my gaming picked up again. For the first time in my life I really began to notice how gaming negatively impacted me.
 
Finally, I had the self-awareness to notice some patterns. The "best" gaming experiences, my "favorite" ones, had the curious side-effect of making me miserable. The most enjoyable, stimulating, engrossing, challenging, all-consuming gaming experiences that would keep me playing for hours and hours on end, late into the night, that I craved the most, that I Kickstarted and waited-for-years to experience, well... they were poison. They felt like drugs. In a sense they were - "good" video games are precisely crafted instruments for delivering hefty hits of dopamine.
 
When I would get hooked on one of these "best", "most fun" games, I would suddenly be spending 40+ hours a week on it - like a second job. I would become obsessed, reading anything and everything about the game in the lulls at work or any other time when I wasn't able to actually play it. I would become distant from my girlfriend and friends. I would be withdrawn, my social skills would atrophy, I would be sitting in the dark all the time, eating crap food. I'd be somewhat oblivious to the world outside my screen. My days would consist of work and then coming home to game. My social anxiety would increase, eye contact would become more difficult. After a little while I would begin to feel lonely, isolated, and that would lead me to feeling melancholy or depressed. And because I would crave the game, even when playing it wasn't always fun, even when it sometimes felt like work, it wasn't easy to simply stop playing and go interact or do something more productive with my life.
 
GameQuitters
 
At some point I discovered r/stopgaming. I don't remember how. The first time I encountered it I mentally filed it away as "intriguing" but it didn't really resonate with me at the time. Months later, after I had been through the above cycle a few times with a few different games, something made me want to start reading it. From there I found GameQuitters.
 
I liked GameQuitters right away, and I felt like I was seen here as a person instead of just one speck of huge sea of other people, like on Reddit. The kind of support and mutual encouragement here is honestly something I've encountered no where else in my life so far. This is the most connected I've felt in an online community, probably ever, and I'm very happy to be here. I feel like I've found a group of people who care about the same things as I do, and also have the determination and drive to improve themselves like I do. Much of my life I've felt like I didn't fit in. I've spent a lot of time with either gamers who didn't care about improving themselves, or with non-gamers who didn't like gaming. So it's refreshing to find others who share the same goals and can also relate to me. Thank you to anyone who has commented or liked or read my journal up this point, it means a lot and I wouldn't be here without your support. And thanks to Cam for his continued support and guidance, and of course for creating this all in the first place!
 
The past 90 days have been pretty transformative for me. I stopped gaming and started to take a hard look at my life. This caused me realize I was in a relationship that wasn't working anymore, so I decided to end it and move on. I decided to get serious about my life in a way that I hadn't before - suddenly it felt like the little things mattered more. This is my life and I can choose to craft it however I want to. It matters how I spend my time, and 8 hours of video games on the weekend are 8 hours I'm not going to get back. I could invest them into a game, which gives me entertainment but not fulfillment, or I could invest them into myself and into things that actually matter to me as a human being. I have gained other things, too. I've learned gratitude and appreciation; I've developed new healthy habits and recommitted to old ones; I've pushed my comfort zone by taking social risks; I've began building a social life that I'm happy and proud of; I've dated new people and learned about myself; I ran my first 5K; I've even learned better time management. In sum, I've learned far more about myself than I expected - sometimes stepping away from a part of your life is a great way to understand who you are. Most importantly, I'm much happier and I feel like my life is on the right track, instead of stagnating. I feel progress.
 
I think one of the most obvious and yet deep realizations I've had throughout this process is that gaming isn't the issue - it's all the stuff we use gaming to numb or escape from. And I guess this is what addiction is all about. The substance or activity isn't about feeling good, but about feeling less bad. But eventually we have to stop numbing and address the badness for good.
 
The Next 90 Days
 
In truth, 90 days isn't that long. I'm just starting out, and this is really just the beginning of a new chapter of my life - one without gaming. As great and difficult and enriching as this has been, there is much more to come.
 
I recently came across this note that I wrote a few years ago, which struck me as I was rereading it. I wanted to share it with you guys to close this out:
 
"I think that it takes a lot of courage to see that you are one person, and to recognize that there is another person you want to become. It takes more courage still to actually change who you are, because this is simultaneously a creative and destructive act. Even as you are adding to yourself, you are also letting other parts go. And letting go is hard, because even when we’re letting go of our unhealthy parts, those parts are still familiar and comfortable, while the new parts of foreign and challenging. We are letting go of 'us' for 'not-us'. When all is said and done, you are no longer the same person. That person doesn’t exist anymore. You've changed."
 
Tomorrow, on Day 91, I'll lay out some new goals and next steps for myself. Thanks again to everyone! Let's all keep working towards our goals together. :D
 
EDIT:
Here are some more thoughts on what I learned from my 90 days. http://forum.gamequitters.com/topic/220-quit-for-90-days/?do=findComment&comment=4504
Edited by kortheo

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So proud of you man. And this is only the beginning. Excited to follow along as your journey continues to unfold. Thank you for being willing to be vulnerable and share your story with us - from September 23rd until now - it has a positive impact on everyone else as well. You're making a difference, not only in your life but in the lives of others. See you in a few weeks! B|

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Congratulations kortheo on finishing the detox!

Your reflection surely was heartfelt, and it shows a great sense of awareness of your time as a resource to invest, not to kill. Your post would be a great example for new game quitters to see, your development throughout your journey is rather clear.

Thanks for being a role model in the community! :)

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Travis, let me join in the choir of those that congratulate you and wish you well.

You realize that you are good writer as well? It is a pleasure to read your posts! The trials and tribulations and what you learnt from them shines greatly through. All the best for your next 90 days!

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Travis, let me join in the choir of those that congratulate you and wish you well.

You realize that you are good writer as well? It is a pleasure to read your posts! The trials and tribulations and what you learnt from them shines greatly through. All the best for your next 90 days!

Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I enjoy writing a lot, I'm glad that I have an outlet for it here!

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Day 91

Yesterday I said I would lay out goals and next steps for myself - but I have to put that off for one day. Today, I need your help!

I have done 0 Christmas shopping, so I really need to do that today. I have also been thinking about deleting my gaming accounts - Steam, Origin, Battle.net. When I first started I told myself I would do that once I hit 90 days. And here I am.

I was really resisting the thought yesterday - I think this will be very challenging for me to do. A voice in my head tells me "what's the harm in just playing one light-weight game, like Hearthstone? You don't have to delete those accounts!" But I know that's addiction talking - Hearthstone, while "light" and "simple" actually has a ton of hidden complexity and can demand dozens of hours from you if you want to be good (and I like being good). It is an eSport, after all. Plus, playing one Blizzard game tends to lead to playing other Blizzard games... you have to stare at the other options in the launcher each time you start up Hearthstone. Also, it's not exactly kind to your wallet.

Deleting these accounts feels a bit like jumping off a cliff or something. It feels scary. But I know that if I have to choose to going back to games vs keeping the life that I have now, the life I have now will keep my happier. I'm pretty certain that if I try to strike a balance between gaming and not that I'll just slowly (or quickly) slide back into old habits. I don't see much of a middle ground for me. And plus, I like this new chapter of my life.

So here's where I need your opinions: I have a nephew. He's a freshman in high school, and a gamer. He'll be with us at Christmas. Rather than just deleting my accounts, what do you guys think of me gifting them to him? It's kind of complex because... I know that he would probably love it, because it would be a ton of games for him to play. When I was his age, that's all I generally wanted for Christmas - games. It would probably make me feel better to know that rather than just dumping my accounts into oblivion, someone else would get enjoyment out of them.

But of course the obvious flipside is that I quit games because I feel they're a bad thing for me, and I'm sure they're ultimately a bad thing for him too. I see a lot of myself in him. He has had a hard life in some ways and I'm sure gaming is an escape for him. If I were to gift it to him, am I acting in his best interests? Or am I being a bad influence? I'm honestly not sure. Even if I don't give them, it's not like he's going to stop gaming any time soon. And it's not like there's anything I can do to get him to stop gaming (and that's not my place anyway).

And one last thought is... maybe rather than gifting them, it would be better to just delete them forever. It gives me more of a sense of closure. If I delete them, they're really really gone. If I gift them, they're still one person away from me.

Thank you for any thoughts on the matter, Gamequitters.

Gratitude

  1. Sleeping in.
  2. Bad movies with friends.
  3. Paper shredder.
  4. Mexican food.
  5. Kindle and cafes.
  6. Coming up with good gift ideas.
  7. Realizing there's a Stone Brewery store in Oceanside.
  8. Vacation!!!
  9. Not thinking about work.
  10. Not mindless browsing the internet.

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This is a normal part of the process. When we're creating a new identity for ourselves we will have thoughts of flowing back. This article by Mark Manson on Procrastination would be a good reminder for you today. So it's not the feeling of "should I go back or not" that's important, it's the reinforcement and decision to keep moving forwards (instead of going back to old versions of yourself) that's important. Even still today I have feelings of going back to games or other old habits of mine, and I just need to remind myself that I want to move forward and all that.

I would encourage you to delete your games and instead of gifting them to your nephew, be creative and find a way to really connect with him. Sure, games are all he may care about at this time, but that's keeping a limited perspective on your relationship with him. Instead of gifting him games, you could create an experience that you can share together that will build your relationship (and thus, if he comes to a point where he wants to move on from games, you have better rapport, or with a better relationship you are now a role model in his life, etc.) Gifting games is the easy way out imo. :P

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This is a normal part of the process. When we're creating a new identity for ourselves we will have thoughts of flowing back. This article by Mark Manson on Procrastination would be a good reminder for you today. So it's not the feeling of "should I go back or not" that's important, it's the reinforcement and decision to keep moving forwards (instead of going back to old versions of yourself) that's important. Even still today I have feelings of going back to games or other old habits of mine, and I just need to remind myself that I want to move forward and all that.

I would encourage you to delete your games and instead of gifting them to your nephew, be creative and find a way to really connect with him. Sure, games are all he may care about at this time, but that's keeping a limited perspective on your relationship with him. Instead of gifting him games, you could create an experience that you can share together that will build your relationship (and thus, if he comes to a point where he wants to move on from games, you have better rapport, or with a better relationship you are now a role model in his life, etc.) Gifting games is the easy way out imo. :P

Yeah, after sitting with it for a few hours I definitely agree. I will find him something else. I also prefer the finality of deleting my accounts and making them gone for good. I'm thinking of getting him some nice headphones... high schoolers tend to be into music, and when I got my first quality headphones in high school it blew my mind :D 

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Hi Travis, delete your accounts. First, I know it can seem like "what's the harm of an occasional game, I am over the bad habit" - yet you will be so unhappy about it if you fall back into old patterns. According to Keller's and Papasan's "The ONE Thing", forming a habit my actually anything from 3 weeks to 10 months. So you might not be over it yet.

Second, rest assured games will not disappear when you delete your STEAM accounts. You can get back, that's for sure. So you could think to yourself: even if I delete them and really really REALLY want to get back to gaming in one year, I may have to rebuild my accounts and it can take a while, but the possibility is always there. So maybe that makes it feel less going over a cliff. 
Speaking of cliffs - sometimes a cliff is good. Take a leap of faith. Be like Indiana Jones (sorry for the advertizing) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5VjZ1ORS8Y

Third, if I imagine myself in your shoes, I could not be sure that what I really want when I gift the subscription to my nephew - is to "stay in the loop". Maybe even be a "game mentor"! Silly mind of mine. What kind of mentor would that be? But I know my mind, and it is quite adept at finding creative ways to keep holding on to the addiction.

Agree 100% with Cam. Connect in real ways to your nephew. And if he wants to find games, he'll find them. So... you can be the mentor that prevents him from falling prey to gaming addiction! By making meaningful connections.

All the best, your first 90 days done, starting the second 90 day round - you inspire the heck out of me!

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I vote for deleting them.  If he's already into playing video games it probably won't make much difference to him.  But there's the chance that if they start negatively affecting his life, you'll feel responsible.

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Thanks for the replies guys.

Cam - thanks for that Mark Manson article, 100% spot on. My resistance for deleting the accounts is definitely because it's a threat to my identity.

Florian - Many good points. I liked the Indiana Jones video hah, great metaphor! As for deleting my accounts, I'm planning on doing this. So from what I can tell there will be 0% chance of recovery.

Ed - You're right, I would feel pretty bad if I could see that I was having a negative impact on him. I could influence him in much more positive ways if I tried.

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