As night fell, the forest started to quiet down. The trees became shadows, lit dimly under the moonlight. The faint track left by others now nearly untraceable. Still air lingered around, cold and uninviting. I decided to take a break from trekking. Brushing the fallen leaves off a relatively flat rock, I sat down and fished around my rucksack for food.
And it wasn’t just any bun you’d see novice travelers munching on – no; this is Lindus’s finest, or so it claims. Technicalities aside, everyone who has taken a bite would definitely come for a second.
Its crimson-gold outer layer was lined with streaks of meat floss – not too much, not too little. And biting into the bun would reveal several layers of flour, each bearing a lesser tint of crimson-red, until it achieves an exquisite gold. And underneath that – in the heart of the beast, was packed a sumptuous secret filling that was worth queuing up for hours.
Just as I was about to take a bite, a hand clawed at me from behind. The first attack was followed by a fury of others. I let out a shriek and leaped away on , gaining some distance from my attackers. Even if it was only a glimpse of their face, I immediately identified them – ghouls, a mob of them. Their blood-thirsty eyes borrowed madden ferocity from the eerie moonlight, and without warning, they charged at me.
Without warning, one of them pounced and managed to scrape the sling of my rucksack. Losing my balance, I fell and as I hit the ground I felt a stone protruding from the forest floor and pushing itself towards my backbone. Before I could move, another ghoul pounced on, causing the sharp stone to cut through my flesh.
The air around me stirred with great force and the creeps above me were shoved away, crashing into the trees.
“Hold your ground, brethren, you shall not stand alone.”
A voice of hope.
The damage dealt to the creeps was colossal; the force was so huge that one of them died on the spot. The Paladin stretched out his war hammer, and the remaining ghouls scrambled for their lives. After they were gone, he reached out an empty hand to me. But before I could grab it and thank him for his assistance, a heavenly voice rang.
“Hey boys, its dinner time!”
Drawing from past experience, I knew better than to be late for dinner. Bearing the adrenaline rush from moments before, I punched “Thanks!” to the global chat, toggled the “afk” notice, switched off the monitors and hastily made my way downstairs hoping to evade the nefarious maternal wrath.
From the audible shrieks and laughter, I’ve given it away – I just spent the entire afternoon of sunny Saturday on video games. Mom shot me a brief 0.5 second glare; indicating her knowledge of my misuse of precious time. As I scrambled to my seat at the dinner table, my APM (actions per minute) must have rivaled Korean Starcraft players.
You know how most families talk about their days at dinner? Now that’s a little weird for me – what am I supposed to say?
“I got pounced on by some monsters and this cool looking kid dashed in at the last second to save my life.”
Or maybe I could tell them about the beautiful forest retreat in Coral City, or perhaps how that the guild leader’s pre-raid speech was totally smashing? I could try, if you promise to give me all your legendary-tier gear.
Maybe some of you could do it, and even discuss your games in depth with your family members.
But more often than not, the idea of psychologically intimate online relationships with anyone, with boosted aversion to the opposite gender, tends to be alien and upsetting to your parents. There’s a cultural gap that is difficult to bridge. And not everyone would find themselves in the best-case scenario: where your family members understands these relationships work for you and you are able to overcome their fears of you getting swept away by a predator.
In accordance to such pressures, I’ve always pondered the meaning of my online relationships. I’ve made a couple of important friends online and now have an entire list of bloggers that I consider myself blessed to have stumbled upon their beautiful prose. I’ve also strengthened a lot of my friendships (that have originated offline) in our virtual adventures, and at the same time lost some – there’s a kind of openness and intimacy of online relationships that we would not ordinarily experience in real life.
I find it strange that people vehemently put down online relationships, for most of these conversations I’ve had online have been far more intelligent that those in real life. I find deep conversations and heart-to-heart discussions online, and as a result the relationships, tend to be slightly more profound (for me) for two major reasons. Firstly, on the average the people participating in the conversations have and does make use of text-editing to review their response to significantly reduces the chances of Freudian slips and possibly unintended rude, unsound remarks. Additionally, non-instant communication allows participants to converse at their individual pace and convenience.
It strips away instinctive responses to a high degree, so in a sense it could be seen to be more of ‘pure’ mind to mind connection.
As far as personal relationships go, I would choose the deep conversations, over the bland gestures of face-to-face interaction. I’d like to think I know someone better after a text-based discussion about his views on ethics, or his recent break-up than when I invite them in my home to merely ask how they want their coffee. I think that social superficalities, such as the need for manners, body language and face to face communication can become hindrances to communication at times.
Of course, even with all that being said, I do not have any philosophical argumentation to back up, no more the fact that I prefer strawberries to cherries (which is surely heresy!).
If someone is shy in real life or is somewhat hindered when it comes to participating in social occasions, you may get to know him better on the internet than you’d ever get in real life. And if someone is less familiar with the keyboard layout, or expressing oneself through writing, then you may well get to know that someone better in real life than you ever could in the Internet.
We’d argue that body language and touch communication can convey feelings and emotions that your keyboard can never communicate, but for others this is less of a problem than to some. If anything, I value my on-line friends equally to my off-line friends and I find comfort in each unique relationship.