Thursday, 27 June 2013

Play games

With my experience of Google being what it is, I'm guessing that there's a fair chance that you're landing on this blog post because you searched for 'play games'. Chances are you're looking for a quick source of entertainment to kill some time that requires a little more mental activity than blankly staring at your social media feeds or the latest viral video.

Stop.

That's the whole problem right there. In my previous post I was saying that I want to dedicate my 50th blog post here to something special, and I can't think of anything better than highlighting this website I stumbled across.

If you don't have time for more reading - who does? - here's a quick visual summary:


I highly suggest you watch this video which was embedded into the previous site I linked to. Chances are it will call to a part of you that you've forgotten after years (or decades?) of being taught to suppress that part of yourself: The importance of 'Play'
"Playing in public is a political act. It is a demonstration in every sense of the word: a demonstration of how easy it is to transform a public space to a play space. A demonstration of how easy it is to take a place of anonymity and change it to a place of intimacy. A demonstration of how easily we can change a no trespassing zone to a zone of shared laughter, of permission to play; to a place where we are safe enough to let ourselves be beautiful, together, in public."
"And it made me think that it’s funny, in a sad way, how much we worry about beauty, how much time and money and grief and doubt to make ourselves feel beautiful. The make-up, the clothes, the dyes, the exercise – they help us feel beautiful – but it’s funny, and sad, too, to think how simple of a thing like a children’s game would let us be as loved and lovely as the world’s children we always have been." [SOURCE *thanks Bernie]
 At this point, I can't remember why we decided to out-source our 'play' to computer or console games? I've felt increasingly disenchanted with investing hours of my life into my Playstation, and maybe you've felt the same.

Maybe you'll join me in a pledge to not just tell a joke in the office, but to take the next step into enjoying a game with somebody ... it could be calling your co-workers to prank them in a foreign accent, it could be a game of soccer, it could be something silly. Remember: the point isn't to make yourself laugh (e.g. at somebody else's misfortune) but to enjoy making somebody else laugh.

There's a world of difference there, and a world that's worth living in.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Ladder ... Post 49

When you're two posts away from 50 blog posts, two things are true: 1) You've invested a hell of a lot of time into your blog; 2) If you ever want to reach 50 blog posts you need to think up two more posts.

I wouldn't just stop there, so let me give you a preview of the future plans I've been teasing here: my wife and I have changed our minds, and are thinking of relocating to the UK instead! And no, not London ... if any more immigrants arrive at Heathrow, the whole southern part of England will just calmly snap off and sink.

The reasons are pretty self-evident - I speak English, salaries there are better than in Romania, I have family living there, and things in South Africa are still depressing overall. No brainer, then. Sorry Romania: I tried.

Are you, dear reader, living in the UK? How would you recommend life in the country, and what is the general level of anti-foreigner sentiment?

Stay tuned for more updates (and a celebration for my 50th post)!

Monday, 17 June 2013

My goal in life

After the longest of breaks from this blog, here's a lengthy update to get your teeth into! No, I still don't have any breaking news - that I can confirm anyway ;) - but I do have some thoughts I'd like to throw into the great Interwebs for your viewing pleasure.

One realisation I reached last year was this: even though we hate cliches, we'd be stupid to ignore them. It's only when we're at a point in our life where a cliche is particularly applicable that we can receive it for the wisdom that it is.

Cliche 1: Everybody is on the same path in life.
Expansion: We're born, we're raised (or not raised) by our parents, we fall and out of love, we get a job, we get married, we have kids, we retire, we die.

The amazing thing about that particular recipe is that it doesn't matter where you live, what you aspire to or what you're currently doing ... it applies to you. EVERYTHING else is just window dressing. 

Your profession, your taste in music, your partner, your hairstyle, your politics or religion, what you do on a Friday night for entertainment... ultimately, those things make you unique but they don't change the meta-narrative.

Ok ok, monks, the Pope and those agrarian non-conformists will have different mileage. I'm talking about the meta-narrative for the humanity I'm part of: the urban, educated and upwardly-mobile. I.e you, if you've got access to the Internet and a penchant for blogs.

So why did I highlight something you already know? To lay the foundation for the next cliche.

Cliche 2: Life is inherently unsatisfying if you don't take control of it.
Expansion: It doesn't matter how much you earn, what career you choose or what specific choices you've made in your personal narrative. You're still going to be poorer than many many people, dislike your job in some way and have occasional (or more frequent) arguments with those you love.

My Big Realisation is really simple: the reason we're so unhappy is because everything we're lead to want by advertisers doesn't answer our true needs as humans. And yes, I've got a handy list of those needs:
- To discover/learn
- To create (especially something to be remembered by after our death)
- To be surprised by
- To be part of a community

Do you want to know the 21st Century's solutions to those problems?
Discover/learn: watch a documentary on the Discovery channel
Create: build a puzzle
Surprise: that twist at the end of the movie
Community: Social networking like Facebook

Can you see why that's so inherently unsatisfying? I think about life Back in Ye Good Olde Days, and I think of the discovery potential of sailing out to unexplored lands. How about the ability to create which America's founding fathers enjoyed, or the builders of Rome enjoyed? Imagine the surprise involved in landing on the moon, or figuring out for the first time that the world was round. And community? What is being 'friends' with a bunch of strangers on our cellphone's Facebook application compared to fighting for our countries in one of the World Wars?

The big problem here is that the answers to human needs have been commercialised, and extremely poorly. How many times have I wondered why I'm living in a big city and yet have no entertainment options which I find appealing? 

I'm sorry, but going to a restaurant/bar/club/casino/cinema/shopping mall/bowling alley/drama is not the answer to all human problems.

The ultimate sadness is this: in the few hours we have to ourselves between work and sleeping, we're prompted to just dive into those commercialised solutions to our problems. But they're not satisfying, are they? They're just temporary distractions.

I've chosen as my goal in life to launch some business which addresses these key human needs in a more concrete and holistic fashion. It's not going to be easy, but then again ... nothing is. What do you think?