Live In This World and Play Here
Escapism is a dead meme
“This was such a tooth-pulling process compared to had I just buckled down and decided that it was not acceptable for the people around me to misunderstand me.”
“Live in your world, play in ours,” said the PS2 commercials; genius marketing in the same way Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. advertises the “manliness” of their unhealthily massive burgers. They imply you’ve earned the right to play in someone else’s (better) world by dealing with life in yours; like this game is something you deserve to have.
For most of my life I wasn’t sure what I was trying to escape into; and unluckily, there’s a special holding cell for people like that called “The Internet.” I didn’t have to live in my world—I could live AND play in other this pseudo-real realm. I only used the Internet to talk to people that I didn’t know in real life; it provided an escape in that I could become a type of person or discuss a set of interests that I didn’t feel I could in real life. I fucked up in two big ways:
Firstly, in thinking it was any easier to be myself online than offline. The consequences of being who you are don’t change on the internet, they just aren’t as visible to you. People still decide they don’t like you and laugh at you, they just aren’t always in your line of sight. You can pretend you’re in a ‘virtual world,’ but the receipts are held in physical memory storage only accessible by the eyesight of real human beings.
Secondly, in that the Internet eventually began an active invasion of reality. The powers running this whole operation certainly don’t want you escaping the Internet, and are making a concerted effort to involve it in your life. This is for the better—the idea that an unmanicured ‘wild west’ of anonymous posting and collated ideation is worthwhile for society deserves contest. People think we’ve learned a lot more from the internet than we have; but its worth is almost exclusively in disseminating the information we already had.
My biggest mistake was in thinking that by running away to the Internet, I was finding a way to be myself in circumstances where I didn’t believe I could—but the reality is that I wasn’t being myself anywhere at all.
Yourself is not the collection of impressions by which you wish to be defined, but the collection of effects that you’ve had on your environment by existing. You are the person sitting in front of the computer and saying things—you are not the things that you say in and of themselves. How people judge you will be not by the intent of your statements, but by the results thereof, because intent is impossible to determine from an outside perspective.
I spent some 14 years living a double-life where neither side was satisfying. I avoided friends and family because I couldn’t figure out how to communicate what I was feeling with them, and because the perceived ramifications for ‘failure’ were too great compared to the seeming ease/lack of consequence of experimenting on the Internet. Once I had a reputation on the Internet and had to face it as a ‘real’ part of my life, I continued separating that online ‘real’ life from my offline life, and in neither place actually became the person that I considered myself inwardly.
I robbed myself of many important failures I needed to face. I needed to be told that I was doing things wrong, and then to internalize the fact idea that I am wrong so that I can change something about how I communicate. Instead, I decided it was everyone else’s fault for failing to understand me and kept running in search of someone who would. I am very lucky that I found mentors I respect enough to listen to who helped me correct things about myself—but this was such a tooth-pulling process compared to had I just buckled down and decided that it was not acceptable for the people around me to misunderstand me.
People that hate themselves have a tendency to decide they are just simply unfit for most circumstances. ‘This world doesn’t understand me the way I am, so I need to go to a world that does—a world where my specific way of being is accepted or even powerful.’ They are wrong; we need as many people as we can possibly get in this world—we just need them to be better. YOU need to be better for US. I NEED to be better for you.
You are not inherently weak, nor inherently hateable—more likely, you aren’t listening to the people telling you that you’re doing something wrong, because they aren’t capable of communicating what’s wrong to you in a reasonable way. They seem to be missing the point and misunderstanding, and they totally are—but that doesn’t matter. Running away from people because they don’t get you is like walking out of a movie when the bad guy shows up; you don’t get the gratification seeing a problem resolved if you won’t even watch the fight. Nobody wins, and the number of places you ‘can’ exist shrinks further.
WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY that is very prepared to let you fuck off into dreams. It’s easy to keep people under control and working to your benefit if they aren’t paying attention to what’s going around them.
It is literally impossible to live in isolation—everything is effected by everything else, no matter how alone you feel—but people who think they are alone tend to feel powerless and are easily manipulated. You will convince yourself that you don’t have the emotional strength or intelligence to change your station, because that’s what the people that want you to do as they say tell you.
Never accept the circumstance of non-belonging in your environment. Your life is always in danger, you are always at risk of being hated and misunderstood, and if you aren’t following the zeitgeist, you won’t even know why they’re coming for you until the day they’re at your door. There is nowhere to run. Live in this world and play here.