Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Feel Happy

This is not a profound post, particularly, but I think it's important. So much public discourse on, well, any subject with an organized or at least well-connected fandom is likely to end up dominated by complaints. Back when I was conducting a survey of White Wolf customers' thoughts about various prospects, I spent time browsing forums and newsgroups for a wide range of other hobbies, and ended up identifying a few constant elements.

#1. Net discourse skews toward complaints, because people happy with what they've got are more likely to be off doing their thing. Obviously this isn't a total domination sort of thing. There are some persistent, recurring focuses for happy talk, too. But taken overall, what you find in the forums (and blogs and whatever) is going to be weighted some toward dissatisfaction, because the people who can't or don't want to do the thing they're posting about have extra time on their hands.

#2. Net discourse skews toward hard-to-solve problems, because people who need easy or simple fixes get them quickly. A lot of people start their posting histories by needing help - a source of a particular yarn, interpretation of a crash log, credible evaluations of what this state's "organic" certification actually means, whatever. And a great many such people get what they're after and then don't hang around for other conversation. Any problem that's a recurring subject of conversation has a greater-than-otherwise chance of being something that's hard to solve, and that may not have a solution yet. Or it may be simple, but something that makes such trouble that there's a lot of ire built up around it.

#3. Net discourse skews toward people willing to do anything to win an argument. If you're prepared to toss aside honesty, consistency, temperance, and the like, you can crush a lot of people trying to disagreeing with you. In fact, you can make a lot of them give up not just on that argument, but on the whole forum. Of course, in the long run this leaves you with only your fellow lovers of toxic waste for regular company.

Blogs have some advantages over forums in this regard, in that they can be engaged in cross-site conversation but aren't as tightly bound together as any single forum. Still, some of the same forces are at work.

It's in this context that I note that I have, in many ways, a pretty miserable real life, and that, yes, I do use World of Warcraft as a source of escape. If the game ever becomes reliably more of a nuisance than a pleasure, I'll give it up. I've had times when I did need a hiatus for a little while to catch my notional breath, think about priorities, and try fresh runs around obstacles to satisfying play.

Right now, though, I am really deeply into a happy groove, just as I've got some fresh real-world stresses I won't belabor you with. (Mostly it's the personal ramifications of macro-scale economic and political junk. Boring, really, and painful only because I do have to deal with my little corner of it.) So the game is doing its job really, really well, in cheering me up and giving me engaging, happy things to think about.

I'm sure the repeated refrain must sometimes get a little tiresome. But I've done my time being a gloomy prognosticator. The fact is that I do feel very happy indeed about World of Warcraft, my characters, and the stuff I'm doing and seeing with them, and I intend to keep this blog a source of good cheer just as often as I think it's warranted. Which is, frankly, a lot, for now at least.

You've been warned. :)