Things I’ve learned whilst engaged in mindless activities

Despite working two jobs and being a full-time graduate student, it seems like I have an alarming amount of free time.  With the free time, I’m sure to stimulate my mind with important, worldly activities such as reading poetry, managing my retirement, planting a garden, and lying about doing those things.  It seems like most of my free time is spent either reading Wikipedia or playing video games, which is kind of what happens when you’re 23 and lacking a career.

Anyway, I’m sure not to waste these experiences.  Sure, playing video games for four hours might be considered “mindless”, but I always try to extract as much usefulness as I can from performing mindless tasks.

6.  Online gaming has taught me a lot about humanity

There have been numerous studies which suggests online users don’t typically take responsibility for their actions, or they consider online interactions reasonably meaningless.  The cloak of anonymity allows internet users a metaphorical, seemingly all-encompassing and invincible set of armor that lets them spew forth hate speech, obscenity, and support of Rick Perry.  Of course, most people are aware of “internet trolls” or users who patrol the YouTube comments section to suggest other users perform incestuous acts with their own grandfathers or ask for unsolicited donations for the “you mom is fat” club.  In video games, this realm exists as well.  You see, the induction of online gaming has allowed players from all over the world to come closer together via their consoles and experience the vast, amazing world of 2015 video gaming together.  And people use this gift, of course, to spew insults and racist hate speech.  But, I’m not going to even touch on that, because I’m a believer most people aren’t inherently stupid, they just like attention.  The reason I lose faith in humanity when playing games online, simply put, is because I observe fellow humans reverting to a childlike state of selfishness and cowardice.

I play FIFA a lot, mainly because it’s the only game I’m actually good enough to play against other people online and win.  While the core of the game, much like actual soccer, is “kick the ball in the net”, the creators over at EA realized this could get boring, so they adopted several game modes and models to keep people interested.  One of these game modes is called “Online Pro”. Okay, this is going to take some explaining:  You go online, and you create a pro.  Now that that’s over, the game mode is interesting because it allows your player to play simply as an individual while other individual players (who you’re usually matched with online) comprise the remainder of the team.  As you can probably see, this creates some notable problems.  When you’re playing FIFA with one or two people, you have control of the entire team, so it’s a lot easier to make things run smoothly.  When you are relying on strangers to act as a team, it NEVER works.  The problem with “Online Pro” is there is literally no rewards for winning if you’re placed into a random match.  Personal stats are the only thing that matters, meaning the issues of playing with a team are wholly irrelevant.  Now, if you’re familiar with soccer, you are probably aware it’s important to pass the ball to teammates, pace yourself, and not be an idiot.  Each of these qualities is entirely ignored in “Online Pro”, as your “teammates” swarm the ball, run around the entirety of the field, and pull their goalies for inappropriate plays.  This game mode has fully reinforced my believe that humanity is deteriorating at such a rate that individuals would rather take something directly from my feet than wait for me to pass it to them.

That entry got a little ranty.  Probably shouldn’t have played FIFA before I wrote this.  Anyway..

5.  Driving ranges are where sanity goes to die

I really enjoy playing golf, but I enjoy it even more when I’m good at it.  Since it’s relatively impractical to play golf everyday, it’s usually necessary to refine your game through other means.  Since most of golf is nailing down the technical aspects and then adhering to a routine, there’s no better way to practice than through repetition, which usually involves hitting a hundred or so balls at the local driving range.  It’s also a great way to mindlessly kill part of an afternoon.

There’s two types of driving ranges; the one located at your club or the one at an independent locale.  If you’re at the local course or country club, chances are the place has a designated driving range.  This is the place to be.  You can hit from a real surface, mingle with fellow golfers, smell the freshly cut grass of the course, and just generally observe your surroundings.  The independent locale is not this.

For starters if you ever go to an independent locale, there is a 100% chance that at least half of the participants are wearing jeans.  Jeans are not golf clothes.  This is the equivalent of someone wearing a t-shirt to the local swimming pool or Crocs literally anywhere. Additionally, there’s usually a staggering abundance of unsupervised children.  This thought should terrify you, me, and the owners of the range because I’m certain I could probably kill a child with my backswing.  Not concerned about the death of their child?  The parents of said child, who are usually smoking and/or drinking, which you might recognize as “things that aren’t allowed at a driving range”.  In my last couple trips to my local driving range, I’ve also noticed many individuals who talk to themselves as they hit balls.  Don’t get me wrong, I issue idle threats to myself all the time on the golf course, but I tend to keep those ramblings internal.  I’m not lying when I say I witnessed a man utter the term “come on” 13 times during my last trip to the range, and I know it’s that many because I counted.  When I completed my bucket and exited my tee, he asked if I wanted to take some balls from a bucket he found at another tee.  I kindly declined this strangers request to steal someone else’s golf balls because I’m not a maniac.

4.  I should probably enjoy not caring about my appearance while I can

I can’t grow a good beard.  For like a day, my facial hair looks good as short stubble, but after that it grows into a horrific patchy nightmare that would make Andrew Luck question my beard growing skills.  However, I don’t care.  I write for a website online, I attend graduate school, and I work in a restaurant.  I’m already married, my job search is active but not conclusive yet, and for now I have no one to impress.  When you add all of these facts up you arrive at this conclusion; I can look as gross as I want.  Today, for example, marks my second week without shaving my face.  For most actual male humans, two weeks of not shaving will grace their eager, fresh faces with a glorious plethora of fur, ending with a spectacular, manly beard.  For me, two weeks of not shaving gives me the facial equivalent of a balding man’s comb over.

Fortunately for me, I’m still young, without a career, and active in my education.  So, I can still afford to neglect my appearance on a day by day basis and not lose any of my overall self-worth.  Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion and looking nice, but sometimes throwing a nice outfit distracts people from the hairy disaster on your face.  Likewise, I enjoy juxtaposing my facial appearance with my wardrobe, so of I do shave, I’ll probably wear sweatpants a lot.  In fact, last week I wore the same pair of sweatpants and Wu-Tang clan t-shirt around my apartment for three consecutive days.  I woke up, put on those clothes, did chores, changed clothes to run errands, and then changed right back into my trusty sweats.  I think I’m at the point in my life where I’m keeping a t-shirt in rotation until it either A) emits a notable odor (in which case that’s still up for debate) or B) it has a visible stain (and even then the term ‘visible’ is open to a shocking degree of subjectivity).

I’ve learned I should probably enjoy being gross while I can before I have to start looking nice everyday.

3.  Netflix is the devil

The school where I earned by undergraduate degree had a 48% four-year graduation rate, and I’m 100% percent certain Netflix contributed to those numbers.  Before Netflix we invented fire, won two World Wars, discovered space travel, and made Forrest Gump.  Since Netflix has been invented the overall productivity of the human race has decreased, but boy oh boy is it worth it.  Did you know right now, as you’re reading this, you can go on Netflix, right now, and watch Courage the Cowardly Dog?  How is our government still functioning?  How are people actually graduating from college.  Prospective employers, the fact that Netflix exists and people STILL come to work should speak very, very highly of their character.

And Netflix knows what it’s doing.  They intentionally put out new, amazing content based on how society will react.  Most of their viewing audience is people my age.  If you put old episodes of Pokemon, the Power Rangers, and the Magic School bus on Netflix, they aren’t anticipating current 5-10 year old kids watching; they are intentionally appealing to those in my age demographic; the ones seeking jobs, beginning careers, or finishing school.  It’s an extraordinarily insidious move, Netflix.  What’s worse, is they have “recommendations” based on what I watched.  “I see you liked this documentary about Columbine, how about something about the early 90’s Detroit Pistons?”  OF COURSE I WANNA SEE THAT, NETFLIX! I STILL HATE BILL LAMBEIR AND ISAIAH THOMAS!  And Netflix owns, in my opinion, the most evil invention of all time: the automatic play next system.  Let’s say you want to sit down and watch a couple episodes of Breaking Bad, just for posterity.  You finish an episode, and then during the credits Netflix interjects with a screen displaying the plot synopsis of the next episode, as well as a timer until the next episode will play.  You can’t expect me not to watch the Heavy Freight episode, Netflix.  So, you began your crusade by innocently sitting down to watch an episode of two of Breaking Bad, but now it’s 4:30 in the morning and you’ve burned through most of season five.

2.  Naps have gone from necessity, to guilty pleasure, back to necessity, and now to just guilty.

As children, we take naps because we have to.  When we are teenagers naps become a great tool, but a source of utter deniability because being caught sleeping as a teenager is apparently an admission of weakness.  In the college years, naps again revert back to necessity and then once you end college, the idea of nap time is a foreign concept until death. Unless, of course, you have time.

I’m aware this is a habit I need to break, and I’m not even sure if it’s normal, but my sleeping schedule is pretty different than normal.  I usually stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning and wake up around 9 or 9:30.  I take a multivitamin for breakfast, each lunch around 2 or 3, and then dinner at 6.  I realize I need to reset my body clock to a more workable time, but for now, that’s what works for me.  However, since most of my free time is spent either writing, completing school work, or listening to racist teenagers besmirch my anatomy in video games, I sometimes find myself able to take naps.  And I HATE this.  Don’t get me wrong, naps are awesome, but heroin users probably think heroin is awesome and that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to do.  I am actively searching for a career and I like to spend much of my time researching positions are doing stuff like this to keep my craft sharp, but sometimes I’m wont to fall asleep.  As normal people are sitting in rush hour, once a week I’m knocked out on my couch for over an hour.  And this sucks because I feel like it’s a complete waste of time.  I always feel guilty waking up from a nap, because I instantly become aware my time could’ve been spent doing something else.  I really don’t even get pleasure in it anymore, because lost productivity at this point in my life sucks.

1.  When the activities are mindless, your mind wonders.

As bored as I sometimes get, I think it’s the boredom itself that makes me most bored.  BRB, my brain exploded.

I guess what I mean by the vaguely moronic sentence is that when I’m forced to keep my mind occupied, sometimes it goes places I prefer it doesn’t.  Usually, I’m thinking about my future.  If you’re reading this and still in high school, remember this: it’s okay if you don’t know what to do with your life, but adulthood sneaks up on you really fast.  It seems like only yesterday I was skipping my sophomore level Earth Science class because the professor didn’t take attendance, and yet, here I am, constantly wondering where my career search will take me.  Thank god I’ve already got the marriage thing figured out.  That makes things a lot easier, and I’ve already accepted she will make vastly more money than me someday, and she’s not going to have trouble finding a job.  But, I’m at the point in my life where I have a year of graduate school left, but I’m ready to start a 40-hour a week career.  I don’t have that now, so it forces my mind to constantly wonder.  When will I get a job?  What if I can’t pay my bills?  One of my best friends just bought a house.  I want to buy a house someday, but I can’t do that writing part-time for a website.

I’m aware these last two entries have taken a decidedly depressing turn, but I hope anyone reading (especially this last entry) will take my words to heart.  Blink-182 once said “nobody likes you when you’re 23”, and I’m finding this is undeniably true.  I’m not saying cops constantly tase me and old ladies pepper spray my horrible unshaven face, but I’m saying your early 20’s kind of blow because you’re stuck in a collegiate mentality where you still think almost as a teenager, but you’re stuck with adult responsibilities and the existential crisis of securing long-term employment and figuring out the rest of your life.  But, I guess constantly dealing with the burden of adulthood makes you a better adult.

And you know what, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

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