Real folk blues

Things tend to happen in relatd clusters. (Helped, perhaps even driven, by the brain's eagerness to find patterns.)

This good weekend it was a dinner with a friend, an article about addiction, roleplaying games and a discussion about living through computers. The connection was the article about addiction. It argues for the theory or perspective of addiction as (often or mainly being) a result of social isolation. The whole line of reasoning made a lot of sense to me, not least because I am very comfortable being alone but feel clearly how much I benefit from getting out ant meeting people face to face. I read the article on Saturday with my Friday evening fresh in mind. I headed out to meet a friend for dinner, and we ended up not only having great food, a few beers and some nice talk about code but also connecting on a slightly deeper level than before. We became closer friends, plain and simple, and it became even clearer to me just how rarely I take that step with friends both new and old.

The main event of today was a session of roleplaying gaming, a game completely focused on shared storytelling and almost devoid of rules. I could almost call it my first real roleplaying session ever, and I had a lot of fun playing, trying to come to grips with the options and generally trying to avoid falling into the trap of becoming a fascinated observer. It was not a deep connection event, but rather a fresh experience in being social, and I felt connections to everything from podcasting to improvisational theater to presentations to mingling skills and writing. Synapses firing in all directions at once. Not only do I want to play again, I also want to educate myself more in order to become a better player by having even more background information to work with and from. My two co-players impressed me too, jumping between scenes they just thought of, generating scenes and characters and events. Tycho of Penny arcade fame once coined (to me, at least) the expression "generating a world in real-time", and that really sums the experience up for me.

Finally, for the moment, I got back home and found myself in a discussion on Slack about simplification, getting rid of unnecessary things and - most of all - living less through computers. How easy it is to have most human interaction mediated by computers, ending up reading angry rants in comment threads and generally not seeing faces or hearing real voices. The addiction article surfaced in my mind, as did thoughts of which addiction-like behaviors I might do more of when I am more isolated. We found ourselves more things to talk about, and Merlin Mann's idea of scheduling time each month to just call people and talk resurfaced.

A side-thread is that I got myself a 30 day commuter card a week ago. I realized I was spending about as much anyway, and I have taken the opportunity to make extra use of it. On Friday I worked from home and had a few tasks mainly focused on thinking to do. So I jumped on a tram and spent an hour or so travelling around while getting my things done, and I hope I will do that more often. Thoughts take different turns when people are coming, going and chatting around you and a sunny world is rolling by outside the window. I felt … grounded, present.

There is no fasinating twist or neat bow to tie this text up. It is all threads of thought strecthing out in all directions, over the horizon and into the evening sunlight.

(The real folk blues, by the way.)