May 3, 2016

Get the Balance Right

I commented on Twitter a week or so ago that it felt like so much EVE stuff was going on in the META, it was impossible to keep up. The null sec war, Fanfest, the endless churn of topics on Twitter and r/eve, the Citadels expansion, CSM stuff, the blogs, the news sites, the podcasts, the videos, the books, and on and on. Then there's all the considerable stuff going on in my own alliance...leadership discussions, member initiatives, processing recruits in and departing members out, ops, questions, AFK notices, great stories about experiences, and more.

It's a seductive avalanche of activity, discussion, and engagement. It's so easy to get sucked in and lost amidst the crush and swirl, feeling like you have to keep tuning in to stay afloat, knowing its probably a losing battle, and wondering all the while how EVE has come to dominate every spare moment of your life.

It struck me a few weeks ago that the balance between RL and EVE was getting out of whack. This probably happens to every long-time, engaged EVE player. I went to bed thinking about EVE stuff, woke up thinking about it, checked Reddit and Twitter obsessively every chance I got, got a little twitchy if I didn't log in every day, felt a weird sense of obligation to have an opinion on everything and be in the know about all the stuff going on. You probably know what I'm talking about if you've been in EVE for more than five minutes.

Problem is, my time for EVE is limited. Real life is busy and full of interesting stuff needing doing that has nothing to do with gaming or even computers. And yet, I wasn't getting those things done because I was letting EVE steal so much time and mental energy. In analyzing my habits, I figured out that it wasn't EVE itself that was responsible, it was the META--all those addictive channels of engagement outside the game--that was the issue.

So, I decided to dial my engagement in the META way the hell down. Turned off retweets for everyone I followed on Twitter. Stopped Tweeting as much. Unfollowed a bunch of people who added nothing of value to my newsfeed. Stopped looking at Twitter and r/eve every 15 minutes. Stopped feeling obligated to comment on every post in my corp subreddit. Read few to no blogs or news sites on an ongoing basis.

It was tough at first...all those things are highly addicting. But having gained some distance from the META is freeing. There's suddenly more time for what's really important to me in EVE, which is Signal Cartel. In the bargain, the balance with real life obligations has gotten more manageable too.

Cutting back on the META also made me realize that I don't really care all that much about what is going on outside the game. Causes, movements, tirades, witch hunts...not important to me. I log in, I play the game. I focus on my corp responsibilities, fly my ships, join ops when I can, and enjoy bantering with my corpmates and friends in-game. That's enough. EVE is relaxing again, as a recreational activity is meant to be.

None of which is to say that the META is a bad thing. It's just an overwhelming thing. Don't get me wrong. I like being connected to the META, but more and more I prefer to keep it at arm's length. "Get the Balance Right", as an old Depeche Mode song goes. When it comes to EVE, that's always a challenge. Doing it successfully requires a measure of personal discipline and occasionally a good hard chop through the weeds with a sharp axe.