Fighting the Urge to Overconsume

How do you eat a snack? Do you take minimal, multiple bites to savor the flavor and pace yourself? Or do you eat it all in one bite, size allowing? I tend to fall under the latter situation, and have throughout my entire life. Might be why I’ve always been overweight. Though for the purposes of this piece, I wish to elaborate that this also falls into another unhealthy habit of mine that has recently found itself diminishing the volume of my creativity in recent weeks.

The snack analogy is an easy, quick way to establish what exactly I mean by “overconsumption” in the title. A majority of the time, I take substantial bites out of my food, quickly nourishing myself with the beloved happy chemicals that come with tasting something scrumptious. The same can be said of my daily habits and activities—hobbies, if you will. It is not simply food, but the things that I look forward to in a given day. I consume to high degrees in just about everything. Lately, it has become somewhat alarming.

Before going any further, and perhaps to save you the trouble, I’m not entirely sure there’s any real “point” to this post. While on my daily walk, I simply felt the urge to write on this topic. Self-inflating? Probably. Cathartic? Quite so. What can you even make of it? A sort-of life update, sort-of philosophical think piece, I guess. Simply typing out an aspect to my current situation for the sake of it, because it’s not like I’m particularly expressive outside of this site.

Veering back to the topic at hand, I have what one might consider a “one-track mind.” I go all in on one thing, and all else tends to lag behind in importance. If, for example, I become entranced with a particular video game, that will be all I want to do, day in and day out. Since the NFL season started roughly a month ago, I’ve even taken to playing (video) games and watching (NFL) games. Even that feels weird—I’m not giving one thing my full attention and it irks me.

Unfortunately, this tends to fester itself into a sort of obsessiveness that becomes hard to break. As of recently, one thing has been what I tend to wake up for:

World of Warcraft.

A game that has taken (very likely) thousands of hours of my life since I started back in late 2006. In the last couple of months, I’ve even rivaled the amount of time I’ve put into it from when I was trying to reach level cap in a Burning Crusade private server late last year. On a whim, I made many new characters (six) on top of the three I already had. Almost like clockwork, I got every new character to level 7, then 16, then 20.

Each character took (estimated numbers) an accumulative 18-26 hours to get to level 20. 18-26 hours multiplied by six. Yet I wasn’t done there. I got my two higher-leveled characters from the late 30’s to 45, and early 50’s to 60. respectively. Those took longer than 18-26 hours. For the sake of estimation, I’d wager one character took 24-28 hours while the other took 35-40 hours.

At the lowest estimate: 18 x 6 + 24 + 35 = 167 hours (roughly three hours a day).

At the highest estimate: 26 x 6 + 28 + 40 = 224 hours (roughly four hours a day).

From an average standpoint, four hours a day on a game doesn’t sound too terrible. But there have certainly been days in the past month where I would play for nearly the length I would in late December of last year (at least eight hours). It’s ironically turned into a full-time job (something I do not possess and have been trying to acquire) in something that rewards me nothing of any practical benefit.

And accounting for that mission to reach level cap last year, even that is more evidence of my intense obsession with throwing myself into the fire on a whim, gouging my health and other hobbies for the sake of that one, shiny goal. The worst part is that it’s so easy to sink into. All it has to do is be rewarding, whether intellectually, mentally, emotionally, etc.

World of Warcraft, for all of its known addictive qualities, is but one of many things I’ve fallen into. Before that (though it comes in and out of my life repeatedly), it was Twitch. I even wrote a post on how enjoyable it was to be a part of various communities and such. While I do not regret meeting the fantastic people I’ve come to follow and, on occasion, make friends with, it’s another subject of scrutiny for its effect on my personal tendencies.

If you thought the numbers above with my playtime in WoW were frightening, it pales in comparison to when I was really into Twitch. I would plan my whole day around various streamers’ schedules. Based on how much I liked a particular streamer, I would attempt to attend every stream. No exceptions. While the number of people I follow is not extraordinarily large, they all vary in how often they stream in a week. Some stream once a week for three hours, others stream five times a week at 4-5 hours each.

Now take that ratio I provided and multiply it by twenty-five to thirty times. There were days where I spent literally all day on Twitch. How proud I was to say that I viewed the entirety of four different streamers’ streams over the course of a day. It was not an exaggeration to say I would spend anywhere from six to ten hours a day watching streams. Burnout was inevitable.

How funny it is, then, that Twitch would take a backseat to World of Warcraft in recent months. When my playtime in the latter increased, my watchtime in the former decreased. Like the terrible curse of the Hydra, though, with one head cut off, two more grew in its place: World of Warcraft and football.

Due to my current living situation, I cannot rely on my TV being free at all times. So, to watch as much football as I want as games happen, I downloaded the NFL+ app on my phone to have easy access. (Spoiler: the app is kind of bad.) On the first Sunday of the season, I watched three-straight games. That was after I watched the Thursday game, and immediately preceding the Monday game. NFL games are generally about three hours. My Sundays are 9+ hours of football.

Last Sunday, I watched three-straight games. That was after I watched the Thursday game, and immediately preceding the Monday game. That on top of the many hours I was spending on World of Warcraft either simultaneously or in pockets of time when football was not currently in play. I ended up skipping last Thursday’s game because I didn’t care for the teams, and I skipped one game today to go on a walk (and write this post). Such a relief… wait, relief?

Completely on a whim, I told a friend of mine to provide me footage of a stream of theirs so I could make a highlight video for them. They did. It took me nearly a week—six to eight hours a day of intense, one-sitting sessions of going back and forth in editor screens, making sure everything was placed per-fect-ly and progress was made. As exciting a prospect it was and the responsibility I placed on myself to make it worthwhile, it was also like dipping my face a little too close to running lava.

All of these examples are just in the last couple years. This is not accounting for the person I was many years ago—as a child, teenager, in different settings, or different activities. As I look back and assess, I can only wonder if this is the only way I know how to be productive. That if I cannot match the speed of my current obsession, as the feeling flees so quickly and without care, things will end up unfinished, unfulfilled, unremarkable. “Strike when the iron is hot,” they say. In my case, it may be best to strike when my interest is piqued.

Whether games, self-ordained challenges, or the various fixations that surround my days, I fear I might be trapped within an “all-or-nothing” mentality that blazes as quickly as it simmers. It should come as no surprise that my lack of activity on this blog is directly tied to the fact that I found playing World of Warcraft more worth my time. It is (was?) my current obsession, and it is all that glimmers within the mind. There is plenty I could write on, yet I do not. Maybe I will now given my passion for writing is slowly reigniting upon typing all this garbage out.

My, what an aimless, rambling post. If you learned anything or gained something from all of that, I’d be surprised. Regardless, if nothing else, my self-evaluating has purposed another fix in store: pacing. Do not consume all at once. It’s okay to leave things for another day, another session. Allowing passion to simmer is not the same as extinguishing it. Many things in smaller portions can be just as rewarding, if not more so, than a large quantity of one.

And for fuck’s sake, I really need to quit pushing things off because I feel like doing something else more. This complacency will be the end of me.

Thank you for your time. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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