Coming back again

What is it about certain things that makes them never get old, even when they’re – on the face of it – aesthetically clunky and visually dull?

I logged into Urban Dead this morning whilst I had a few spare moments between jobs, only to discover my zombie character has stood untouched in a busy part of Malton for more than 8 weeks. That rather unbelievable feat must be some sort of record I think, but I digress…

Next, I joined my UD group’s IRC channel and immediately had that familiar, comforting feeling of being amongst good friends and respectful peers. I suppose it’s something, really, when the most gratifying human interaction of the working day could quite possibly be that which doesn’t involve anything more than reading and responding. Moreover, it happens between a group of people who have never even met each other outside of the digital space. As of the New Year I’ve been online for more than a decade now (a thought I find somewhat intimidating), yet I’m still surprised and pleased by the level of satisfaction gained from being a part of various different digital communities.

I was convinced the novelty of this would have worn off years ago, but still I keep coming back. Not to the same places I did 10+ years ago mind you, which therein I think lies the answer. It’s the breadth of choice – of niche, of infinite specialism – that the Internet can offer up to the user that keeps you coming back. Myself, I’ve been fairly nomadic in where I’ve gone as far as Internet communities go. Once-popular sites still shut down from time to time, forcing their members to move elsewhere for their community fix. Over time though I’ve learnt to recognise these signs, but also recognise in myself just what it is I want from the Internet regarding my different interests. My interest in House music for example is satisfied most completely by just subscribing to a couple of choice podcasts; no need to join forums, doggy-watching threads and lapping up the latest rumour, discussion or speculation. My love of videogames on the other hand is only satisfied by reading and discussing as much as my real-world schedule allows. Nowadays that means I don’t have the time – or inclination, frankly – to mindlessly swallow everything placed before me by two dozen popular gaming sites. I’m more interested in the niche, discussing what makes a great game great for example, with like-minded souls from as wide a spread of cultures as possible.

It’s the viewpoint of others that interests me most, because I think that’s what truly informs your own standing in the world; true appreciation of what’s around you, understanding it and then building upon your own feelings in these matters to take into account a broader spectrum of “what matters”.

So why do I keep coming back? It’s simple really — self-improvement.

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