Time to get personal. I’m introverted and I have a relatively small social circle. Saying that my social circle is small isn’t the same as saying that I’m afflicted with loneliness. I genuinely enjoy many solitary pursuits, such as reading, writing and hiking in the woods. The validity and usefulness of shallow social media “friends” and acquaintances is also something I deeply question. Humans aren’t solitary animals, many have made this statement throughout history. Few genuinely enjoy leaving society behind to live a solitary existence. I don’t judge or look down upon those who have chosen to pursue social activities over solitary ones. For extroverts in particular, this would only be natural. That being said, I think many people could benefit from ranking such activities on a scale of usefulness versus pure entertainment. Alcohol fuelled parties aren’t as beneficial to society as reading the classics.
I spent many years of adolescence playing video games, online games in particular. Although I dispute claims that I was addicted to games such as “World of Warcraft”, I would agree that spending so much time in a fictional world has had consequences for my personal social development. I was able to quit playing the game the very same day I decided to end my online “career”. Such games are naturally designed to hook you on the frequent dopamine hits of fictional achievements. Uncritical usage can displace real world achievements and self-improvement. I believe that society should engage this problem, as few have the ego strength to limit themselves. Just look at the overuse and abuse of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Even sugar and unhealthy foods are indicators of low time preference.
The most difficult aspect of quitting the addictive pursuit of online gaming was undoubtedly the social aspect. You typically join a guild or clan of real people that you play together with, talk to and enjoy hanging out with. Giving that up was definitely a bigger factor than anything else in making the decision to end it. Still, I was successful on my first attempt. Such online relationships can’t displace flesh-and-blood interactions that used to be the norm. Fifty years ago, children would unceremoniously knock on the door of their neighbours and climb trees in the woods. Increasingly, that has been lost. Now you take your phone out of your pocket and place a call. You hang out online with your real world friends. Something has definitely been lost. This is but a symptom of the larger issues plaguing and harming the future of Western civilization today.
In my personal case, I also lost social development to illness. Afflicted by chronic disease at twenty, I was forced to withdraw to a large extent from the world and stay holed up in my apartment for several years. I was unable to participate in most of the student life at university. Thinking back now that those issues have been resolved, the online gaming and chronic illness have impacted the direction of my life. It is almost a chicken or the egg scenario, would I still have found enjoyment in the solitary pursuits I enjoy today if I had had a “normal” social life during my teenage years and early twenties? I don’t have an answer to that question.
It also took me a very long time to discover the importance of self-improvement. Only relatively recently have I lost weight, started working out, eating healthy food and so on. I used to think that “it is what is inside that counts” and looking down upon those interested in taking care of their outer appearance. What a fool I was. Now I acknowledge the error of my ways, and see that the inside is connected to the outside. Being overweight is an insult to yourself, isn’t your mind worthy of a healthy physical vessel? As a result of these mistakes, I’m now a couple of years behind my peers in terms of social development and social achievements. Although I’m working intensively now on bettering myself, getting a girlfriend is still some time away at the earliest.
Lamenting and obsessing over what could have been isn’t the healthiest thing to mull over repeatedly. Letting bygones be bygones is necessary in terms of moving forward. I’m certainly not alone in wishing that society or those around me would have hammered into my dense skull the importance of starting to eat proper nutritious food and working out much, much earlier than I was able to come to these realizations on my own. I don’t dwell on these thoughts apart from the occasional negative line of thought. I am who I am, and I am thankful for that. I have avoided many mistakes that afflict peers within my age range. I’ve never been drunk, never smoked a single cigarette, never tried recreational drugs, not gotten anyone pregnant and have never had an STD.
The path forward for me isn’t to be like people on the political left, who dwell on victimhood instead of moving forward. My undivided attention now is directed at improving myself and attaining what I want in the future.