Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sixes & Sevens

More often than not, when I use an idiom I have to explain what the idiom means.  On the whole, it makes me want to give up idioms, since they so frequently fail to convey a shorthanded description of the problem at hand - but somehow, I can't.  Thus the title of this post.

A conversation made the rounds yesterday about the fracturing effects of 5e amid gamers, particularly online.  No one spoke at all about the actual nature of 5e as a gaming platform, only the effects of that system going one step further to break up the existing community.  I am not hearing that people are quitting the 'game' (whatever game the reader wishes to insert here), but I am hearing that people are backing off from clubs and social groups because of 'pressure' they're feeling from the owners of said spaces to play 5e.

I give this to the reader second-hand; I have no personal stake in the matter at all.  I cut my ties to off-line communities a decade before the words "off-line" meant anything except being too drunk to drive.  This year, I cut the online ties, too . . . and I'm feeling the effects.  In not hunting down the annoying, idiotic things that people say on other blogs and ranting about them, I hardly have to moderate the blog at all.  I'm actually thinking of taking down the four rules I've posted.

All in all, this has put me in mind of something my medieval history professors would proudly tell us in class - that in those far off days of feudalism, the average peasant would live and die within seven miles of the place of their birth.

I'm not precisely sure how that was measured.  I've heard it argued that seven miles was the distance a peasant could 'safely' travel and return home before nightfall . . . but as a boy scout in my teens we were regularly sent out to walk sixteen or twenty miles in a day, eight to ten miles out and back - and as I remember we would return to camp before dinner.  The adults liked to tire us out in those days; they'd grown up during the depression or during the war and they didn't want us kids getting soft.

I suppose it doesn't matter.  The narrow frame of reference is the important thing.  It gives us insight into the one thing we find impossible to imagine - that in an entire lifetime, virtually nothing was new.

For example, I live in a world so large that a conversation I have can revolve completely around a game version that no one in the room plays while we make suppositions about how this affects people we've never met on a system where everyone participates while remaining remarkably aloof.  Everything, every day, drips with newness . . . and virtually everything I hear said about it describes it as a condition that is almost universally hated.  Certainly, it is nothing that any of us should care about - so we are told, again and again.  If it just happened, it almost certainly sucks . . . and it should suck . . . in all these ways that I'm going to tell you about, ad nauseum, right now.  Between the person above me in the feed and the person below me.

Not complaining.  Happy to take my place in line.

Let me explain something about small worlds - the people who live in them are invested.  Our peasant's medical care fell short and food value overall made life short too, but those small-centered people really, really cared about the context of the universe they possessed.  That's what happens when your world shrinks.  It gets simpler and very boring to outsiders . . . but for the residents, everything that doesn't matter has been deep-sixed and forgotten.  'Small' has the virtue of relevance - the systematic elimination of everything that doesn't practically fit into the space where we have chosen to live.

For example, I have moved into a world so small that when a conversation does begin to arise about what other rules people play or why, I find myself growing magnificently disinterested.  More and more, though I spend virtually every waking minute I can find on the internet, less and less has to do with a lazy user's opinion - a phrase I think accurately describes anyone discussing a field in which they've had no education, experience or in which they've made no substantial contribution.  The reader take note, I use substantial in the sense of having produce an actual real thing requiring actual real time to bring into existence.

Oh, I'm still finding the lazy reader . . . I'm simply not reading it.  It, as in the gender-neutral pronoun that implies entities not specifically related to, well, emotional relevance.

I do wonder if it isn't a bubble, however . . . here in my seven-mile limit.  'Course, I'm reading history like a madman and writing notes for three different books on wildly different subjects, chatting with prospective employers, heading out to the occasional disappointing interview, all while following the disaster that is the present recession and the political developments happening in my province.  I think I can fairly call that a bubble.  It's not a bubble in the sense of listening to people I agree with - since there are no people I agree with - but it is definitely the sort of bubble my whole generation lived in before there was an internet.  Where we, you know, did things.

Hey, believe me when I say my generation has its head up its ass.  They're still trying to live that life without the internet.  Dolts.

Yet when I glance outside this bubble (the one including this blog), I see the tedious chatter that is the 2015 world of D&D, it all looks like sixes and sevens to me.

No, I'm not going to explain that.  Look it up.

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