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Senescence

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Introduction + Day 1


Today I have decided to quit online (competitive) gaming. It is something that has been on my mind for the last couple of years. I don't know what pushed me to start it today, as nothing special happened. I usually quit things because I am frustrated with them, but I wasn't frustrated with gaming yesterday; I just feel like it's the right thing to do, and there is no point in waiting any longer. I have been playing online games since 1998 or 1999 with StarCraft. I didn't have a computer at the time, but I played at a friend's house frequently.

 When I was a kid, I didn't like being at home very much, because my parents didn't get along at all. I either escaped this circumstance through music or by going out with friends. When I got my first computer, I used the game as an escape a lot. I had some serious emotional problems and a severe anxiety disorder, so being at home and playing StarCraft was pretty much the only respite I had. It helped also that I was very good at it, it allowed me to feel good about myself. Lots of people looked up to me and wanted to play with me. I eventually represented Canada in the game and even went to play against the best player in the world at the time ([ReD]NaDa) and join his team (Sea clan). I slowly lost interest in the game, my skill plateau'd and I knew I wouldn't accomplish anything more, so I called it quits.

I played a lot more Counter-Strike instead, which I was pretty good at as well. I eventually made the switch from StarCraft and Counter-Strike to online poker, because many of my friends had done it and were making money. I had never had any money in my life, so this was appealing to me. Many of the skills required to be good at StarCraft help with online poker, and I knew how difficult it was to hold a job with my anxiety issues and my compulsion to play games, so it was just a logical thing for me to pursue poker professionally. I played it for many years and was quite successful at it. Unfortunately, there wasn't much balance in my life while I played professionally. I wasn't addicted to poker and very much looked forward to not playing it every day, but I needed to be in a certain frame of mind in order to do this for a living, and it didn't go well with any intellectual or creative pursuits, so I didn't do any of that for many years. When I wasn't playing, I was often just consuming mindless entertainment, with the exception of music, which was my greatest passion. It's what allowed me not to turn into a machine, I feel.

 Fast forward a few years, I came to a point where I felt like I had neglected myself so much in order to accumulate wealth. It didn't feel right. I no longer enjoyed the game either, and I wasn't motivated to play since I had plenty of money and no real need for it. So I quit. In the first couple years after I quit poker I struggled with StarCraft II. I played it so much. Eventually, I successfully quit, discovered reading again, I exercised, I studied philosophy and psychology and read about a hundred books. I felt like someone, finally. Only problem is I had lost my circle of friends, who were still poker players and gamers, doing drugs, and overall having hobbies I could not relate to or participate in. I felt alienated and directionless, and ended up using gaming again to make up for the lack of satisfying relationships in my life, in part. In the last few years, I have been playing Counter-Strike Global Offensive and HearthStone. I alternate between them every day. I refused to see it as a problem for the longest time. I just didn't know what else I could do with my time. It's painful to think about all the things that are missing from your life when you aren't gaming and you have had an unusual life as a poker player and a recluse.

But today, I decided that feeling that pain wasn't the worst of it. The worst is letting your life slip away doing things you don't even enjoy just out of habit. So this is Day 1 of my detox, and I welcome the pain (mostly the boredom!) that will get me closer to myself and what I really want to do with my life. I deleted my CS:GO and HearthStone folders earlier and I sold all my valuable skins in CS:GO (which isn't much, because I always thought it was a stupid thing to invest in, but it was freeing anyway!). I feel a bit odd being here because I don't plan to quit games as a whole since I have never had an issue with single player games. In fact, I've always had the opposite issue: not being able to play them for very long. I think it comes down to the fact that, when I play a single player game, I know that it has an end to it, so I want to delay gratification and I end up barely playing it as a result. This is a pretty healthy thing, so that's why I'm not concerned with quitting gaming as a whole. So, I will carefully monitor how I feel and if I end up wanting to play competitive games as a result of playing non-competitive games at a low volume, I will quit games entirely.

Last year, I successfully overcame my food addiction. I lost 70 pounds and all my cravings. Overcoming my online gaming addiction will be harder, I think, so I'm hoping this journal helps me out. I will write my thoughts and feelings on a regular basis and whatever goals I might have. For today, I plan to tidy things up in my room, read a few chapters of a novel I've been procrastinating on, watch a good film (Moonlight), listen to music, and perhaps find something to study through YouTube or EdX. I'm planning to start exercising more as well. I have an indoor bike and elliptical, but I think I need a change of environment to really help me right now, so I'm planning to go swimming and maybe get a gym subscription. I'm not a fan of gyms and doing isolated exercises, but I feel like the change of environment would benefit me right now. We'll see how it goes.

Edited by Senescence

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Day 1  was a complete success. No video gaming whatsoever. I read a few testimonials and watched a few of Cam's videos to keep my mind on things when I would have normally played, but I didn't feel an urge to play. I got a gym subscription early in the day to change things and break my normal routine to remove its momentum-- and I ended up doing a 85 min workout there. When I came back I tuned in to the Dreamhack stream to see if it would make me want to play (I wouldn't have!) and was honestly bored. Closed it after 5 minutes. After that I had to take care of an injured stray cat so there was no time for gaming. I'm physically exhausted today, so it will be more of a challenge not to game, since I won't be able to be physically active at all.


My plan for Day 2:

- Watch a film and maybe a good TV Show (HBO's Making a Murderer)
- Read a novel
- Listen to some music
- Clean up
- Prepare some food, maybe a large batch for next week
- Have some romantic time with my partner
- Maybe go for a walk if I'm not too tired

This is probably how most of my recovery days will look like.

Edited by Senescence

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Day 1  was a complete success. No video gaming whatsoever. I read a few testimonials and watched a few of Cam's videos to keep my mind on things when I would have normally played, but I didn't feel an urge to play. I got a gym subscription early in the day to change things and break my normal routine to remove its momentum-- and I ended up doing a 85 min workout there. When I came back I tuned in to the Dreamhack stream to see if it would make me want to play (I wouldn't have!) and was honestly bored. Closed it after 5 minutes. After that I had to take care of an injured stray cat so there was no time for gaming. I'm physically exhausted today, so it will be more of a challenge not to game, since I won't be able to be physically active at all.
 

Getting other activities, like going to the gym, to replace gaming is really key. Good job on taking action!

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Yes, I've been reading up on exercise today while recovering too. Lots to learn about, so it's not just the time in the gym or running that ends up being put into the activity! I'm hoping to make it stick as my main active replacement for gaming. I used to love working out when I was younger, but lost my passion for it. I can feel it being revived now.

I think I'm going to need a few long term goals eventually, I'm already catching glimpses of what I'd like to be doing once gaming is behind me, but for now I'm just focusing on taking small steps, day by day to just avoid gaming. I don't want to overwhelm myself and I'm pretty confident I'll be successful if I don't make that mistake.

Edited by Senescence

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Day 2 was a success. I completed all my goals and didn't game. I watched a stream for about an hour to kill some time, which is something I want to slowly move away from, but it didn't make me want to play. I have enough willpower right now to be able to do this despite potential triggers.


Day 3 begins. Today, I am still extremely sore from my Day 1 workout, so I will be resting. I plan to learn more about exercising and muscle growth and recovery today, as well as do much of the same as yesterday's goals. Keeping my environment clean and being away from the computer more is the key here. I've noticed that I've already been doing a lot less mindless browsing since I stopped the games, which is great.

I had some kind of realization yesterday: the best way to get away from the computer for me is to be involved in some sort of story. In the past couple years, I have become too scientific-minded, if that makes sense. Basically, I've been thinking too much about 'data', reading mostly non-fiction, downloading non-fiction audiobooks, etc. I want to get back into fiction, because I feel something there that I don't feel when I try to study the objective world. I believe the people who really saw into the human soul were not scientists, and I want to learn everything I can from them. In that time, I've also been watching too many Hollywood movies, despite the fact that I don't like them much. I just haven't put enough intention  in the kind of experience I want from the media I'm consuming, and I want to remedy this. Essentially, I want to move away from a form of thinking and way of entertaining myself that I don't believe serves me well or is quite aligning with the person I am or want to be.

 Anyway, this has led to me setting my first long term goal (well, second after quitting Twitch completely): to be able to read a large fiction work that has been too scary for me in the past. Perhaps it will be 'Infinite Jest' or 'The Brothers Karamazov'. I don't know yet, but it is definitely a goal I'm going to work towards after I've "warmed up" with a few shorter books.

Edited by Senescence

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Day 3 went well. I played a game for the first time since I stopped multiplayer games: I played 30 mins of a single player game and had enough. It didn't trigger a dopamine rush in my brain and didn't prevent me from doing the other things I wanted to do that day, so I consider it rather harmless. I did however watch Twitch again for about 45 minutes, which I will definitely improve upon. I feel my interest for watching these gaming streams leave me day by day as I do more productive things.

Day 4  is going well so far. I've gone to the gym again and had a good workout. On my way back, I had my first desire in a while to open up HearthStone, because I was thinking it's been 4 days so I have 3 active quests and I am "losing gold" by not being able to get newer ones. I soon caught this thought as being guilty of the sunk cost fallacy. Not going to play. Probably going to play the guitar instead and spend some time with my girlfriend. Lots of reading planned too.

Edited by Senescence

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Day 4 went well. No gaming at all.

Day 5 Just began. I spent an hour cleaning up. Going to do more cleaning today. Very tired from yesterday's workout, but I might go swimming later. I've been having issues with my phone lately, it doesn't play music well at all. I've been trying to troubleshoot this today and I have to listen to music a lot and basically wait for the bug to appear. I was a bit bored and ended up opening Twitch on my PC. Since I had music playing from my phone, I didn't have sound from Twitch. This had a surprising impact on me. It created a distance in my experience: the thoughtful, brooding music playing, and the infantile gaming and Twitch chat. It really hit me. I felt like everyone there was a manchild--or an actual child. What an utter waste of time, and the utter stupidity of the "conversations"--if we can even call them that--that happen there. It's like you lose brain cells just sticking around. It's frustrating to think about how much time you have lost being involved in nonsense, but this distance I feel now is a good thing.

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What am I doing? An outline of my purpose.

I am doing much more than just quitting gaming. I am trying to re-orient myself in the world, and this is the necessary beginning. The problem goes something like this: gaming has been a large part of what has fed my self-esteem for so long, and I basically need to rebuild my self-esteem in order to be able to move on and take on new challenges. Before I can feel confident enough to take risks outside, in the world, I need to be able to sit comfortably with who I am. Currently I am not satisfied with who I am, and that is normal. I have neglected myself for too long. I think I can trace that back to my upbringing, my environment and my poor health, which I didn't choose. I can see many causal chains that have led to this, but it isn't necessary for me to get into it for now.

Moving on.

In the past year, I have focused a lot on my health and my relationship with food. I tried to model my diet after the cultures which do not get the chronic diseases we have in the West-- the so-called Blue Zones. I was very successful in this and reversed two chronic conditions. Now that I have the diet part dialed in and got my health back, the next logical step would be to change my environment and try to model it after those same healthy and fulfilled people who live longer (and healthier) lives than everyone else in the world. This is a real challenge, because I live in an individualistic, consumeristic society. My environment constantly encourages bad behavior and selfishness. They even subsidize it, as we learn in nutrition studies when it comes to the obesogenic environment. In such an environment, you need to be informed and prudent, because the world we live in doesn't have your best interest at heart.


 I believe there is something inherently self-destructive within most human beings and that this is taken advantage of by people who are in positions of power and influence. Our society would collapse if people could no longer be self-deceived into doing things that are not good for them. But this isn't just some top-down thing -- it isn't a boogeyman that's responsible for all our ills. It exists and it is structured in this way because it is what people think that they want. It is what people think will make them happy.  And we know from research that people are notoriously bad at knowing what will make them happy. As social animals, we have multiple "programs" competing at all times and which dictate action, and a big part of why we do what we do is simply our desire to conform. It isn't there to make us happy, but conforming feels safe. I know that I need to gather enough courage to go against the grain and do what I want to do with my life when I will have identified it. It will be very hard, but it is a journey I must make. To not journey is to decay.

Edited by Senescence

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1 Week, Done!

Quitting an addiction is supposed to be the hardest in the first week or two. So, I guess the hardest is behind me already. It's a great feeling. I'm just gonna make sure I don't let my guard down. To be honest, it wasn't very hard for me since it was long overdue for me to quit and I hadn't been satisfied with myself for years of playing them. I had been preparing for this for a long time: it was always in the back of my mind that I was wasting my time, so it was very rewarding for me to quit and do other things this past week. I've started playing my guitar again, went to the gym multiple times, established a stretching routine, spent more time cleaning, reading and studying and less time doing mindless browsing. Most importantly, I can feel myself being more at peace with myself. I don't feel like I need constant stimulation anymore. If I want to get a dopamine rush, I know I can go to the gym at any time. I feel more in control of myself. I feel more grounded.

Next step is, well, I'm thinking there is no next step currently. I don't want to overwhelm myself and fail. In my view, life isn't about constant growth and improvement. I think that's something that a lot of people want to sell us, and it has counter-productive results. I watched a good talk on this yesterday: How to Resist the Self-Improvement Craze. Sometimes, life is about being stable, knowing who you are, knowing your limits, seeking tranquility and being satisfied with what you currently have. If you're constantly chasing a better state in the future, it's counter-productive and leads to despair.  I'm just gonna keep on keeping on for now with the same activities and no gaming. Really looking forward to having completed the 90 days and seeing how I feel.

Edited by Senescence

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More than two weeks in now, Day 16!

Still going strong. I'm wasting a bit of time watching streams online still, but I am overall impressed as fuck with how much more pleasant my life is. I just have more time for other hobbies now because I'm not constantly making the easy choice of opening a game that I can end up playing for hours. It makes a huge difference to just have halted this behavior in its tracks. In the last 16 days, the only thing I've played is Civilization, for about 1h30 total. It's a somewhat constructive game at least, you learn a few things. No mobile games, no anything else. Like I said before, single player games just don't give me the stimulation that I've always been looking for, so I just barely play them. As suspected, this hasn't changed, which is good!

 What have I been up to? I'm still working out, learning about exercise. I'm more fit than ever. I picked up guitar again and have been spending more hours playing it than in the past 10 years. I bought a new guitar and I'm enjoying myself a lot. I found an insane price on a great model which usually sells for around $950, found it for $600 brand new! My new guitar project is to learn an entire album (Exercises in Futility) and cover it like this dude did.

I finished reading two books: Stumbling Upon Happiness by Dan Gilbert and Mysteries by Knut Hamsun. I started The Optimism Bias as an audiobook for when I'm active and Death By Video Game as an ebook (relevant!). I'm planning to read another novel after this, maybe Hesse's Glass Bead Game, or Céline's Journey to the End of the Night.

Tomorrow, I am going snowboarding for the first time in 10 years. I'm super thrilled. I just wish I had someone to go with; that's the problem when you've been a video game junkie for so long... you have online friends, and once you move on, you've reset the button on your social life. Anyway, I am a recluse, so I prefer being alone most of the time. It's a shame my partner doesn't want to come, it's an activity that's more enjoyable in company.

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1 Month down! (Nearly)

Well, technically, Feb 17 to March 17 is 28 days due to Feb being short a couple days, but yeah. :D

So what's new? Not much, but I thought it was a good time to update anyway. I've been keeping up with my good habits and keeping the bad ones away (mostly). I haven't played anything at all, but I've felt like playing some kind of solo RPG. It's weird, but I randomly remembered my childhood days of playing Harvest Moon 64 a couple days ago. Then I imagined myself playing it, and running around the town, and it kind of lost its appeal for some reason. I knew I wouldn't feel like I did back then.

I've been mostly staying away from Twitch, but perhaps browsing a little too much Reddit lately. If I could replace that with more actual reading, I'd be super happy with myself. Gym is going well - I'm always sore somewhere.  I'm going to get a personalized program done soon to try to maximize my progress. It was free with my subscription to the gym, so we'll see how that goes. I've definitely gained a bit of muscle since I started. A little bit of fat too, but that comes with it since you have to eat more. I've been waiting to get the personalized program done because I wasn't quite sure what my goal should be. I think I want to gain strength mostly and some definition. Problem is, I don't want to do any risky exercises, so I'll make sure to tell the trainer that I want the most safe exercises, i.e. no squats, dead lifts, power cleans, etc. I'd rather use the machines until I'm a more experienced lifter. I do think olympic lifts look cool as hell though and I'd like to try them soon (mostly inspired by fellow vegan Clarence0 on YouTube).

I started some new studies on edX. I got my certificate for nutrition 102x from Wageningen and I'm about to start the last module on food safety. McGillX is running a program on exercise which I began yesterday too. It's been very odd so far, I didn't like that they invited a certain controversial professor. I'm sure there will be some valuable stuff coming up later on though. I'm quite passionate about nutrition and have been looking into doing local studies and trying to get somewhere with that, but after looking in depth into the career opportunities, I'm a bit disappointed in what is available so far. I don't think it would suit me.

 I've done some progress on my guitar too but won't be able to complete the project I wanted (the tablatures aren't available for all songs). Still, I've learned two complete songs and working on a third right now. I'll try to find some other project, maybe even start writing my first song. I guess that's it for now!



 

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1st of April. Update + Plans for the month.

So it's been a couple weeks, figured I'd update this. Things have been going well, but there can be improvements. I've received some push to start playing StarCraft Brood War again, because the game is going to be "revived" with a new patch. I turned down my friend who asked and I'm hoping to not get interested in the game again. It would be a huge waste.

Things I'm proud of:
- Zero gaming of any kind since the last update.
- Been completely off Facebook (deactivated) for over a month.
- Managed to stop watching Twitch entirely
- Still on a routine of going to the gym as soon as my body has recuperated
- Playing guitar regularly
- Studying
- Lot less Reddit browsing (I unsubbed from a bunch of things)
- Very clean eating. Low salt, low sugar, mostly whole foods.

Things to improve upon:
- Cleaning my area more often
- Planning more meals ahead of time + adding more diversity (learning a couple new recipes)
- Must spend less time on YouTube. Even though I learn some things there, it's by far more suited towards distracting myself.
- I'd like to squeeze in a little more cardio in my weekly routine
- Try to keep a good sleep schedule
- Read more this month (at least an hour more per day)


New projects for next month:
- Study more moral philosophy, get better acquainted with the field
- Play a couple new songs at an acceptable level.
- Work on a review of a movie for my Youtube channel and introduce philosophical ideas in there.
- Start a new training program with a certified trainer at the gym.
- Finish a demanding novel

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Day 75: Struggling


Just a quick update. Stop Gaming project is still on point,  but I've been struggling in the last couple weeks to spend less time on forums, YouTube and Reddit. I know why I do it, I can see why it's not productive, but I just can't come up with the motivation to stop. Once the 90 day challenge is done, I will definitely devote all my energy to tackling this problem. Part of it is that I have this compulsion to get into arguments with people, or just try to educate people on certain topics that I'm knowledgeable on. It's not time well spent. When I try to help, my efforts go unnoticed. Again, this comes back to the issue I highlighted about building a healthy self-esteem. There is such a disconnect that happens between online interactions and I feel like it's impossible to do it that way. There's no confirmation or validation that you are doing "the right thing", yet it is all I have. It's an endless loop of dissatisfaction. It's not as bad as being addicted to a damn game, but it sucks. Problem is, I basically don't have anything to replace it with. I don't have any real life friends, group activities, or a career to devote my energy towards and build my self-esteem upon. I don't actually want a career, but I could do with some real friendships. They are just hard to come by.

Overall, I just need to value my time more. I guess I don't value my time because I don't value myself. I need to prove to myself that I am capable of more. Get into a groove where I challenge myself every day so that I feel better about myself.

 

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Check out 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden - really good book on the subject. Also Daring Greatly by Brené Brown helped me with self-esteem a lot. Arguing with people online is all about trying to get validation for what you know, instead of like you identified finding things in your life that are more valuable to you. 

What other activities have you tried to replace your time with or meet new people?

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So, I've completed the 90 days challenge a few days ago and I thought I should update this blog. What I've realized lately (or at least had in mind a lot) is that it's not quitting gaming that is the most difficult thing, or even replacing that gaming with other activities.  The most difficult thing is the awareness of the time you have spent on it. It's the regret of not being where you would want to be because you spent so much time distracting yourself with games and just... being self-indulgent. That is the most difficult thing to admit and live with. I spent my teens escaping a difficult reality through gaming, where I feel comfortable and competent. I never really outgrew that. The only other period of time where I stopped gaming as much and devoted time to my intellectual growth was the only exception. But I failed to keep up with it because, again, reality was too much to bear, and I needed an escape. Video games are not the problem for me, it's just the desire for escaping that is.

This summer is the last summer of my 20s. I feel like it will hit hard once I turn 30. I know I will not be satisfied with where I am, but I want to be satisfied with the efforts I'm doing at the time, the only thing I can do something about. I still haven't figured out what I want to do in the world, but I have a good sense of what I need to be doing in my private, everyday life. More work, less distractions. That is the overall goal. So, having boycotted mostly all social medias successfully in the last months, I'm going to be taking it to the next step now by mostly boycotting YouTube which is my biggest time sink. I'm going to be going through my subscription and removing a lot of those that haven't brought me anything valuable in the last months. I'm going to be banning (with the help of a browser extension) the channels that I know are low quality, drama and distraction. With the free time from that, the goal is to be slightly more physically active, start writing again, and of course read more.

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Check out 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden - really good book on the subject. Also Daring Greatly by Brené Brown helped me with self-esteem a lot. Arguing with people online is all about trying to get validation for what you know, instead of like you identified finding things in your life that are more valuable to you. 

What other activities have you tried to replace your time with or meet new people?

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll look into them.

I haven't argued with people in a few weeks now and feel much better for it. Replacements have been music (playing and listening), physical activity, cooking, reading, watching films (not the empty Hollywood types). I haven't introduced any activities that have allowed me to meet people, with the exception of the gym. I'm still a noob at the gym, so I haven't made any friends, just a couple people I say hi to. I'm not the most social type of person. Not anti-social, but mostly asocial. I have little interests in common with people, am very introverted, so they drain my energy rapidly. Misanthropic to some extent as well, so I just spend time alone or with my girlfriend.

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