As people the sad truth is that our recollection of things is often wholly inaccurate. Whether it’s because of our subjective natures, or because we attach emotional elements or sentimental value to good memories or because we like to see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be, there’s some truth in the claim that we don’t really have great memories. But that’s a vast topic better served in educational articles and studies, because what I want to talk about is more narrowed down to your enjoyment and appreciation of things, whether it is art, video games, a good book or movie or even just something of sentimental value to you. In particular, how to avoid those rose-tinted biases you build up over time about things you experienced in your past, and how it can limit your enjoyment of things in the present or effectively just be inaccurate, and as a result be a rather damaging thing if you discover that the reality is pretty different.
If you aim to be a self-published author or artist, or to enter any solo venture for that matter, it is important to understand the importance of managing expectations and the concept of reward and gratification. I spoke at length about managing expectations and dealing with demotivation in a previous post, and today I want to build on that by focusing more on the dangers of instant gratification, and teaching (even subconsciously) your brain to expect that. What is instant gratification? Well put simply gratification is that sense of happiness and elation you feel upon winning or reaching a goal or obtaining a desire, and by extension instant gratification is the immediate reward of that feeling. Put in the simplest of terms, expecting instant gratification is basically thinking that if you do something you should see positive results or get a reward for it. This thinking can apply almost anywhere, whether it’s in your job, your personal solo venture, your relationship with your partner or even just your belief structures, and it’s vital to understand the problems it can lead to.
I engage with many people on a daily basis, despite my somewhat reclusive behaviour as a writer and broody human. One of the most common problems I hear people talk about is the lack of time. Aside from work, family or educational responsibilities, in our digital age everything is out there trying to grab your attention for a couple of minutes, while we have access to hours upon hours worth of entertainment and distractions at the mere push of a button. Essentially, now more than ever, time management is an imperative part of modern life, and as is totally not surprising it’s one of the most difficult things to figure out. I would hope that sharing my experiences and thoughts here may possibly help anyone, who finds that they don’t have time to do the things they really want to do, to perhaps understand why that is.
If there’s one thing I’ve discussed quite a bit on this blog, it’s the fickle nature of some people which forces them to pick sides and stick with them rather than remain in an open-minded state. The burden of having your beliefs probed and the structures you’ve formed tested can be a heavy one, and part of what compounds the problem is the need some of these people also have for labels. Perhaps you’ve engaged in debate about this before, or have your own opinion on it, but labels have begun to annoy me once again and for a variety of reasons. When I say labels I am referring to what I call the ‘pick a side’ mentality, which is essentially the need to identify things in either-or terms. It must be this or that, you must either be with us or against us. I want to discuss what a dangerous limitation this is to put on yourself or others.
The nature of people is that they often need little reason to fight one another. Having been a writer for a gaming website, EGMR, for the past five years and priding myself on brutal honesty and critiquing of the industry over softball PR, I’m no stranger to conflict, especially on the internet. If you understand that only a handful of things on the planet are actually black and white then you’ll know that conflict can be healthy just as it can be destructive. Ideally, it should be healthy if the intentions going in are right. After all conflict doesn’t have to be a fight or intense hostility, it can simply be a disagreement. And disagreements are often the best ways to learn alternate viewpoints. But over the past couple of weeks I’ve realised that there is something at the core of most bad conflicts and why they happen, and it’s a fundamental flaw of many people I’ve come to meet in recent years. I now regard it as the most irrational cause of conflict.
We all get attached to things, and emotionally invested in products or stories we enjoy even if these things don’t have an active effect on our lives. And by extension it’s normal to get a bit riled up when these things come under scrutiny or get criticised. However lately I’ve been seeing a lot of incidences, particularly in the gaming industry, where people are so attached to the product and the company behind it that any opposing thought or criticism of it leads to intense hostility and personal attacks without regard for the opinion itself. I’m sure we’ve all seen this before. Some would call it being part of the internet. My issue, however, is not with people who become attached to products, but those who become so emotionally invested that they actually willfully choose to be close-minded towards any opposing opinions regarding what they enjoy. Willfully choosing to be close-minded, folks, is ridiculous.
We live in a world that is ripe with hostility, especially when it comes to dealing with different opinions. At least that’s what the internet will have you believe. Don’t get me wrong I love a good debate, even a heated one, because sometimes passion for the subject matter overrules calm and collected banter. And it’s more exciting. But sometimes people do it wrong, and eventually someone gets tired enough of something they love getting criticised that they throw out the clichéd argument of “let’s see you do better if you’re so quick to criticise.” This sadly is a stupid argument.