Happy Thanksgiving

I don’t get days off, but don’t expect some long and poignant post today. Well, maybe you shouldn’t expect that most days. Today is Thanksgiving, a day that people set aside in hopes that it makes them feel grateful for everything that they have for at least one day a year. It’s a day that politics should be left out of. I’m sure Halloween has pretty gruesome history behind it, still going to celebrate that. It’s not about the past; it’s about where we move forward.

I’m thankful for every day. I’m thankful for my beautiful boys. I’m thankful for their successes and their struggles, because both make me a better mother and human. I’m thankful for my supportive family, who’s always there when I need them the most. I’m thankful for my husband, who always lifts me up when it feels like everyone else wants to take me down. I’m thankful that I have a house, food, and loved ones. I have a lot to be thankful of, which I’m very thankful for every day. We don’t need a single day to be grateful. We should be grateful every day.

If you are lucky enough to spend the day with family, remember how lucky you are. If you are working today, putting your life on the line to ensure the safety of others, thank you for your service. We are thinking of you, grateful for your selflessness. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be with family, be with the family you choose. Blood doesn’t mean family. Love does.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember the lessons of today every day of your life. Even in darkness, there is something to be grateful for.

Social Media Help For Esports

Some teams have an awesome team behind their social media accounts. As a Boston Uprising fan, I feel as though they have done an amazing job. The Overwatch/Overwatch League teams (and Blizzard team in general) also have a knack for getting information out and actively engaging with their fans. This is just one of many things that I personally love about Blizzard. The problem is that PR on the social media front tends to be a problem for these teams/stars, especially in the Overwatch League and apparently now their Contenders teams.

You may have heard that there’s a new team in town: the Toronto Defiant. I cried a little on the inside when they had Neko in their video releasing info on 2 of their new players. The reveal was well-produced and the hype around it was perfect. This was social media used in an effective manner to achieve awesome results for the team. Even though this worst kept secret was something some Boston fans were hoping was fake. (Which quickly disappeared when Neko referred to HuK as a lying bastard on the internet, but still some of us clung onto hope that Neko would be our fearless Zen/Ana once again.) The Neko incident of calling HuK out on and it going viral on social media is just one of many ways that the PR team has failed players on the social media front. I could go into real life examples of how social media can give people a negative impression on you without the polish of an experienced professional, but I really don’t like to talk politics on Gaming Day.

Way back when DreamKazper did that terrible thing, I pointed out that this was just one of a few examples back then that you have these kids who are impulsive and inexperienced socially (in most cases) who need help navigating the finer points of engaging fans and social media strategies. As an Uprising fan, I can point to NotE and Gamsu as evidence that when a player uses social media properly can grow a massive following without any drama. Gamsu posts images of the beautiful views when he hikes or hilarious images of him missing his flights. Then there is NotE who goes the puppy route and keeps up this wholesome and goofy image that he has. These are players that have either been coached properly on social media PR or ones who just are personable and relatable people with a talent for social media.

Then you have teams like, I don’t know, the Toronto eSports Club who went full nerd-rage on Twitter. “We were told we couldn’t have our name so we quit Overwatch”. They sounded like petulant children. Does it suck that they had to change their name because of the Toronto Defiant? Absolutely. I don’t think it was right that they had to change their name. Throwing a childish fit on Twitter? Probably not the best way to go about it especially if you want sympathy over the situation. Plus, I mean just flat out quitting the game and bashing how awful it is? That brought up a lot of concerns for Uprising fans (and potentially even their players/staff) of what this meant for them since this seemed like a rash overreaction one the part of their academy team. When HuK comes off as a reasonable party in a situation, then you know you’re wrong. This is another case where someone who shouldn’t have a Twitter account while representing other people makes everyone look bad. (Applies to politics today as well.) In case you’re wondering Toronto eSports doesn’t actually own the academy team, the Uprising do. So, this really means nothing.

These teams and players need better social media coaching. Fissure has an awful reputation due to his social media presence. xQc has a reputation due to his online persona where you either love him or hate him. Social media today can make or break your brand if you let it. In a lot of these cases, they are letting it break them. I’m no expert on social media, but I have done enough where I don’t utterly squash the brand I’m trying to build up. If you don’t have the funds or means to get social media professionals to manage the more difficult people, maybe it’s a good idea to at least train them better in these areas. In most cases, the Overwatch League players are freshly 18 with their own income, living on their own, coming into a massive fan base. It can be easy to get caught up in the fame, not realizing the consequences of your actions in the grand scheme of things.

When Talking to Your Child About Death

The first time I had to discuss a death with my son, it was my aunt who had passed away. He was still young enough where he didn’t exactly comprehend it and it didn’t ultimately have an impact on him. (I want to say he was 3ish at the time?) The second time I had to discuss a death with him, it was my paternal grandfather. This time he was in Kindergarten. Still, he was too young to really understand. I asked him if he wanted to go to school, if he wanted his birth father’s family to take care of him (it was just before his Christmas break started) while I attended the funeral. I missed the wake to take care of my son. I couldn’t miss the funeral.

My son, who even still is a lot older mentally than he should be, decided he wanted to come with because it was the right thing to do. I reluctantly agreed that he could go, thinking that he was too young to be at a place like this. But I figured if he was mature enough to ask and understand what was happening, that he was able to attend. He wanted to come up to the body with me. I held his hand and we prayed together while kneeling in front of my grandfather. We attended the Catholic mass afterwards, where people were crying and remembering my grandfather. I stayed stoic, as I tend to do. Probably why I have the reputation for being “cold”. I stayed stoic until out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my son was trying to be like everyone else. He asked for a tissue, and started dabbing his dry eyes because everyone else was crying. He started forcing sniffling noises while doing it. I didn’t want to laugh during a somber mass, but I chuckled. He didn’t understand what was going on, but he knew the motions that he needed to go through and he just wanted to make sure he was doing it right.

It was a long time later when I had to tell my now older son about a death in the family. This time, it was his biological paternal grandfather, a man he maybe met twice? I remember failing at this opportunity, making a joke because that’s who I am. “Dylan, you know what sucks more than your computer dying?” Yeah, you can finish the joke. I said it. I should be ashamed of myself, I know. But you have to be me and my son to understand. He didn’t react. He didn’t even really know the guy. He was confused as to whether he should go to pay his respects, be alone among a room of people who he didn’t even really know. Ultimately, he decided that it was better for him not to go. He was 15; that was entirely his choice.

My youngest son’s school was doing a project about Veteran’s Day. We decided that it would be cute to write about my maternal grandfather, who served in the Navy and passed away when my oldest son was about 2 or 3 months old. We named our youngest after my grandfather, so we thought it would be cute for our son to learn about him. It was cute until he asked why he didn’t meet my “Grampa”. I calmly explained to him that my grandfather passed away a long time ago. “He’s dead?” I nodded. “Did he die in the war?” I explained that he died of cancer and that cancer sucks. “What happens when you die?”

I stopped. What was my approach here? What do I say to him? Do I say what I believe? That he’s just dead and there’s a body in the ground and that’s really it? I couldn’t do that. I found myself saying the words I’ve learned through all my years of Catechism. “Well, he’s in Heaven watching over us to make sure that we’re okay. He’s protecting us.” My son went on. “What’s Heaven?” I found myself getting wrapped up in a lie that I didn’t believe, as parents often do in so many situations. “Well, it’s where good people go. And your great grandfather was a very good man.” He nodded, asked a few more questions, and that was the end of the conversation. Until he kept bringing it up. “How can he protect us if he’s up in Heaven?”

I wanted to say to  him “Mommy doesn’t believe in God or Heaven or angels, I just lied to you because the truth sucks”. There was no right answer here. I had to keep going with this lie to protect him. Just because I didn’t believe, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to believe if he wants to. It’s a loaded topic dealing with death, especially when discussing it with your kids. I worry about the day when I have to tell them that someone they were close to died because I’m the last person I’d want to tell me if someone passed away. The last. I’ve done it before. I’m not very good at it. I blurt it out without softening the blow. I answer questions honestly. I’m brutal and cold. I admit my faults. I have no idea how I would tell my child that someone they loved died. I could barely make it through a conversation about telling them how someone they didn’t even know died. Did my child need to know that my grandfather died of cancer? Was that too much to put on him? Did I screw up my oldest by telling  him the news through a joke?

I’m a mom trying to figure out this hard stuff just like everyone else. My way probably sucks and I don’t know how to fix it but it surprisingly has worked up until this point. I’m numb to the death thing and admittedly that has hardened me. My first thought it never “oh that sucks”, it’s always “okay, what needs to be done next.” I hope that I figure this out because as you can see, my gut instincts are not great here.

It’s Okay to Admit You’re Drowning Sometimes

Fun fact: I don’t know how to swim. I’m not entirely sure if this has to do with me having just one more irrational fear when it comes to it or if my problem lies more in the sun. More exactly, a family history of skin cancer and what some refer to as an obscenely pale complexion. This doesn’t bother me and my oldest is actually a talented competitive swimmer, primarily thanks to my mother giving him a solid core to work with. That type of drowning, definitely do not recommend.

With everything going on right now, and I don’t just mean the pandemic complicating life, it’s okay to admit that you’re drowning. It’s okay to admit that you’re drowning under the stress of working from home, remote learning, doing everything that’s expected of you on a daily basis without you having a breather to yourself. (Maybe that’s just me.) I admit it. Some days, I barely feel as though my head is over the water. I’m still standing every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means my parents taught me to go down flailing.

It sucks right now. I really does. There’s no place for solace, because everyone is arguing about everything. It’s politics this or racism that. It’s insulting people because they want to err on the side of caution while there’s an ongoing pandemic going on. It’s people who have other inner struggles going on that are just being worsened by the constant load of crap being piled on them by people hiding behind keyboards like they are some type of superior human being. So, it’s okay to admit that everything is crap right now. There’s no weakness in that. There’s no shame in saying it. If people want to be jerks about your complaints or declarations, don’t worry, they are probably even bigger jerks in reality. It’s not you; it’s them.

It’s because of what everyone expects of us. We lose jobs and income, but we’re supposed to just magically find something else. Spoiler: that’s not always easy depending on your career history or education or core skills. Or, if you have to be home with kids who are remote learning. We have family that spends more time obsessing over your failures than praising your accomplishments. There are people who just like belittling people for whatever reason. There are so many things that are out of our control right now, it’s no wonder so many of us feel like we’re floundering.

Normally, I end with some lesson or words of positivity. Some days, finding that positivity is harder than others. Today, I think the comfort can be found in the fact that you’re not the only one who feels like you’re drowning. We all have our moments, especially lately, where it’s hard to catch your breath. What matters is that you find that bit of courage and strength that’s hidden away to help yourself through the day, whether it’s inspiration from the stunning foliage or a chocolate bar sitting on your desk or just having that perfectly made iced coffee. I can’t guarantee that any of this is going to get better anytime soon. But I can say that you’re awesome and that you got this.

I’d Rather Be Honest Than Impressive

The daily yoga program I use is 3 Week Yoga Retreat on Beachbody on Demand. Until I can successfully do the entire program without doing child’s pose or regretting my life’s decisions, I refuse to move onto a more advanced program, if there is one. During the “Expansion Week”, the instructor kept emphasizing the point of foundation and not risking injury to look more impressive. And every time she says “I saw a quote the other day that said ‘I’d rather be honest than impressive’ and I think that’s a really great quote for out yoga practice on and off the mat.”

She’s right. The quote is 100% right. I see moms on my social media or across the internet who write notes to their kids when they make up a snack bag or on holidays make these elaborate crafts or food items with their kids. And I’m just like “They woke up, probably had clean clothes, and were fed. And they went to bed alive.” I’m excited when I can do the bare minimum of “momming” without wanting to drink a bottle of wine at the end of the day. I’m not an impressive mom. I’m not winning any Martha Stewart awards for a perfectly clean house. Heck, some days I consider it an accomplishment and a successful day if I made it through without wanting to cry in the shower.

But I’m okay that I’m not impressive. I’m okay that I’m a mediocre mom who tries to do more than what I think is the bare minimum, despite rarely even making that bar. I’m okay that I may not have an impressive career that people are interested in more than “wow, freelancer… huh.” Maybe it’s because I’m too apathetic to care about what other people think. I assure you it isn’t my self-confidence that makes me not care. I am what I am and I’m in okay with that, even if other people aren’t.

There are just so many expectations for us, whether we put them on ourselves or let others dictate it. I wake up at 6 every morning, assuming I’m not already up for 3-4 hours before that because insomnia (as is the case now, while writing this). Then I either start my day of getting the husband out the door, kids on remote learning, making sure everyone is set for lunch, including making lunch for my husband to take to work. Fit in workouts, cooking supper, my own work, and if I’m lucky I can at least do the dishes. Housecleaning is my last priority because honestly, there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything else that needs to be done. My house is constantly in disarray during this remote learning time. It’s certainly not impressive.

The point here is that it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be impressive. You don’t need validation. You don’t need to compare yourself to other moms because your kids just want you to be happy, to love them, and be there for them when they need you. My kid may run around with a dirty shirt that was clean in the morning but covered in hot sauce throughout the course of the day due to his eating habits. That’s okay. I’m not putting him into a clean shirt because neighbors might think poorly of me just so he can run around and dirty a second shirt in a day. I guarantee, you’ll be a lot happier if you stop trying to be perfectly impressive and start just being present.

The Joys of Scrolling on Past

Remote learning and the daily onslaught of news of the dumpster fire we are living through today impacts my regular blogging schedule. I really try to stick to it. Sometimes I just say “eff it” and let it be. Other times, I get last minute inspiration and decide to write about it. Posting late is better than not, right? Maybe.

Social media is a way to connect each other. A way where we can connect with people from our past. Share with our loved ones that we don’t get to see nearly as much as we’d like to, whether due to physical distance or just too busy with the daily grind. Meet new people and grow relationships. We can share interesting information with each other. Writers and other artists can share their work. Social media can be such a blessing when used properly.

But, with everything else, people are the problem not the principles. People, as adults, have a choice in how they act in every aspect of their lives. They can choose to act proper, or they can choose to turn social media into a tool of drama. They can choose to scroll past things they don’t agree with, or they can pick fights out of boredom, superiority complex, or some other reason that honestly makes no sense at all to me. Arguing on the internet… is an interesting adventure to watch happen before your eyes. People fight to the death as if it matters whether or not they are right. (Spoiler: it doesn’t matter.)

When I see something I don’t like, I just scroll on by. That’s the joy of the internet. If I see a meme of half-truths that someone is passing off as facts, I don’t bother correcting it. Why? Because what good will that do? Being right doesn’t matter in the world of social media. Being the loudest does. Being the bully matters. Being right is inconsequential. You could show off all the facts you want. You could have the moral high ground on a specific topic. But you can’t change who the other person is. If you have that much of a problem with them, quietly unfriend them and move on with your life. I promise, in the grand scheme of the dumpster fire we are living through, it doesn’t matter.

Someone wants to vent about something, even if you think they are irrational to do so? Scroll past. Someone wants to post a meme from their preferred political party, even if you disagree with or think it’s inaccurate? Scroll past. The joy of the internet is that you can just scroll past it. (Key point, which really needs to be emphasized here.) You don’t have to engage. There’s no need for anything other than being kind and supportive. Especially in these days when everyone is so stressed and divided. The world needs more people to pull together right now, not to grow further apart. We are supposed to be a community that helps each other out. That helps each other through these difficult times. And if you can’t contribute to that, why even bother?

Those Three Little Things We’re Never Supposed to Discuss

They say that there are 3 things that you shouldn’t talk about: religion, politics, and money. They cause rifts between families. These should never be discussed at family gatherings. This is a principle that many of us grew up with. They didn’t go into too much detail why these were forbidden topics, but they were. Today, not so much.

Should these be forbidden topics? No. I think that by keeping these topics so bottled up inside is how we ended up where we are today. Think about it. Growing up with this idea means that you’re not talking to other people about it. You’re not learning about new perspectives on how you see things because you don’t talk about these things. Then you grow up believing that your opinion is the only opinion, ignoring the fact that there’s another point of view that is just as valid to consider. The fact is that there’s always some middle ground people can come to, even if it’s just a mutual respect of someone else’s opinion. This can be done through a rational and calm debate. Through polite discourse.

Today, everyone has the “right” opinion. They don’t want to open their mind to other possibilities because they didn’t grow up learning to properly discuss topics. They didn’t learn about coming up with a logical reason for their beliefs or ever get challenged for them. Because they never had to talk about it. They didn’t grow up learning to ask questions or to keep an open-mind. Because nobody talked about these things. These were too taboo to discuss openly and now look where we are today.

Growing up in my household, there was always open debate about these topics. We didn’t always agree, but we did always rationally discuss any of these topics. That’s probably how I grew up to say my piece, consider others, and if I didn’t agree I wouldn’t really fight back. Because you can tell whether or not you can change someone’s mind. You usually can’t, especially in divisive times like these where everyone seems to stick to their convictions.

Making the Best of a Situation

I think one of the best things about children is that they are resilient. They always heal quick. They are fighters, not letting tiny things like us saying “No” stand in the way of anything that they do. They don’t let a scraped knee keep them from running around a playground. This resilience is what will help them overcome what’s going on in the world… but only if we teach them.

I see people upset about canceling trick or treating and Thanksgiving dinner, and potentially Christmas. Imagine the kids! But the thing is… kids will get over it if we teach them to. They aren’t going to be 40 years old and remember that one year that they didn’t have a birthday party or get to wear a costume and get free candy. They aren’t going to remember that one year that they didn’t go everywhere to eat food for the holidays. They will remember the pandemic, but they will remember how YOU taught them to handle it. Those experiences that you gave them in place of the ones that they would normally have. You could choose to mope about this crap… or you could teach your children to overcome it.

I choose to teach my kids new experiences to replace the old. I choose to not let things that I can’t control determine my happiness. If we can’t go out trick or treating, why not have an outdoor movie night by the illegal open fire in our backyard? They can run around with the dogs and glow sticks and enjoy the quiet night. Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner where we go to 3 different houses or invite people over, why not do something fun like a traditional Korean “small plates” (banchan) dinner? I for one, am thankful to not have to slave over a Thanksgiving dinner or have to run around to 5 different places or even spend money on an overpriced Halloween costume. I’m choosing to teach my children to adapt, take things in stride, and find something good while everything else around them is blowing up into a huge pile of crap.

If we dwell on the things that we are missing out on, we are teaching our kids not to be resilient. We are teaching them that they have to be miserable rather than choosing to find the positive in any situation. If we teach them that they shouldn’t be resilient and adaptable, how will that affect them as adults? Well, I imagine you’ll teach children that they have to sit down and take it rather than make the best of a situation. They will tell their bosses “No, I don’t like this so I’m going to act like a brat about it”, then they get fired. Instead, when you teach them resilience, they won’t let things bother them. They’ll be less stressed. They’ll find the best in the situation and use that to overcome whatever challenges that they face.

… Or you could teach them that the world revolves around them and they shouldn’t adapt. Why should they adapt? They are used to one thing and that’s all they know and they shouldn’t change. Right? That’s something that makes a lot of sense and won’t contribute to raising another entitled generation….

Stand Or Not: It’s America

I’m a hardcore Patriots fan. New England for life. Football really is one of the few traditional sports that I can sit through and love every second of it. I don’t care about the things off the field, mostly. I mean, if I heard that a player I liked sexually assaulted women and beat their kids, I would stop being a fan of them and root for their demise in the league and legally. But aside from being creepy, douche-y, or otherwise a harm to society, I don’t care. You want to play football with a Trump sticker on your Patriots helmet? Fine, I don’t care just do your job and score touchdowns. You want to kneel during the National Anthem? Cool, make those blocks. I honestly don’t care what your political ideals are any more than I care about what an actor thinks.

I pointed this out on a friend’s Facebook, specifically stating that one’s political beliefs don’t impact me like that. A person’s response? “I’m not watching that crap.” I didn’t respond back. I don’t care if they’re not going to watch it. Them not watching the game has 0 impact on my life and how I feel about watching the game. Your beliefs have 0 impact on me as long as you aren’t trying to force me into believing in the same things. Then, I have a problem. Otherwise, I’m not going to argue with you about why you should watch. I honestly don’t care. It’s your right not to and it’s my right to watch. One should not have an impact on the other.

Another person pointed out how disrespectful it is that they are kneeling. I countered the point: “Jehovah’s Witnesses typically don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem, but no one seems to care. What’s the difference?” They didn’t think about it that way. So what is the difference? One difference is that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their allegiance is to God’s Kingdom and not the country. The other difference is that the football players actually kneel or stand in solidarity rather than ignoring the anthem. So, I would argue isn’t it worse that Jehovah’s Witness don’t even acknowledge the importance of these symbolic words than kneeling in respect of them? The only reason it’s a problem is because politicians made it a problem. Also, religious freedom so I don’t care as long as they stop ringing my doorbell at 9 am on a Sunday morning.

That’s really the problem with everything. Everything needs to be politicized and you need to fall on one end of the spectrum or the other. They don’t believe in a gray area. They just follow whatever they are supposed to follow rather than just thinking about things rationally for a second. It took me 2 seconds when politicians started complaining to remember a friend of mine growing up who wouldn’t stand for the flag during the morning announcements because of their religion. I didn’t think anything of it because I grew up with this silly notion that, and I know it’s crazy, that their beliefs didn’t affect me. What’s the difference if it’s religious beliefs or a moral belief? Isn’t religion just a moral belief system? I don’t necessarily believe in religion or believe that you need religion to have morals, but aren’t morals just morals no matter the origin?

So stand or don’t stand. I don’t care. It’s your right as an American to follow your beliefs and as long as you’re not forcing others to have those same beliefs, then it doesn’t matter.

It’s Like Watching Something on Television

Who doesn’t enjoy watching shows that discuss political intrigue and unbelievable circumstances? We binge-watch television shows and movies all about these topics, discussing what would happen if this were the real world. We’d laugh; that would never happen.

…Except, isn’t it? What if we watched a television show where the president of a country that brags about freedoms, ends up deciding that they are going to be the president forever because they want to even if they are voted out? Because it isn’t possible that there are people who legitimately don’t want him as president anymore. Because people are tired of reading Onion article headlines and wondering if it’s actually real because the “reality” we live in just doesn’t seem quite real anymore.

I’ve been avoiding writing lately. I haven’t “felt” it. My heart isn’t in it because honestly my heart isn’t in much right now. The world around me hurts my brain and whatever soul I have left and I’m left here jaded because everything just feels so insane to me right now. My only thought is “Would everyone be so cavalier about what’s going on right now if the other party was doing it?” Because, I’m pissed at both sides of the arguments and I know for a fact that I would be pissed in either situation. If Schumer had said “Trump shouldn’t get his pick because we have 6 months left in the election” and then said “Early voting already started and Biden gets his pick”, I would be outraged. And I’m honestly enraged that people don’t seem to care about it except the Democrats, who are the party of righteous indignation. But are they outraged because they are right? Or are they outraged because everything outrages them right now?

Do I agree in the choice to let President Trump select a Supreme Court Justice when an election has already started despite not letting President Obama do the same several months out of the election? No. If you can’t do it in one situation, you shouldn’t do it in the other. When you are on camera and you reiterate this point, then back it up because it benefits you, it’s wrong. It isn’t about benefiting you politically; it should be about what’s right. If they had let President Obama get his pick out and then did it now, I wouldn’t necessarily like it but it wouldn’t be wrong. What’s wrong is potentially putting someone up who wants to make laws based on their religion, not the constitution. A Supreme Court Justice should uphold the constitution, not push a religious agenda.

I don’t want to talk about any of that. I don’t want to keep talking about how insane the world we live in right now is. I don’t want to remind people of how divisive the country is and how people either don’t realize or don’t care that they aren’t helping matters. I hate how in the past I could point out logical flaws in people’s posts without any problems or even with comments of “I never thought of it like that”, but now I refrain because people don’t care about what’s logical or reasonable. They don’t like the effort of free-thought. Everyone has to have an agenda. You are either with them or against them. It couldn’t be possible that I don’t like President Trump and not be a Democrat. It can’t be possible that I’m not that keen on Biden but am not a Republican. People seem to think that independent thinkers actually exist. We do and we’re pissed.

We live in a television show now. We live in a television show that has ruined actually watching these types of shows. Why should I finish watching “House of Cards” if I’m essentially living it? What happens if I wished “Designated Survivor” actually happened, but maybe without Ben Carson taking over as president? It doesn’t matter anyways. I’m getting close to just thinking that it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what party is in office if you can’t fix the underlying problem: the States of America are not United. They are divided by race and religion and political ideals. They are divided by the principle of “whoever doesn’t agree with me is the enemy”. It doesn’t matter if they back up their opinion with rational thought; it’s not about facts or logic. It’s about right and wrong, even if the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Shadowlands: The True Beta Experience

Now that there’s really not much to talk about in the Overwatch Leage, aside from my MVP choice Fleta winning the award and Washington Justice somehow doing exceptionally well in the playoffs before finally falling to the Philadelphia Fusion, it’s time to look at the Beta Experience for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.

At first, the experience started off well. The story was great. I’m not sure I liked the story more than some of my other favorite expansions like Legion and Wrath of the Lich King, but the story was far more interesting than what BFA turned out to be. (I admit, I did enjoy the BFA story for a while but eventually was bored of it.) The prequel book was good and a great lead-in to the beta… but there was something missing. Things were pretty easy to get through, and it was interesting coming across some of these characters that we have loved in the past to see where they are now that they are dead.

The Bug That Ended it All. And Led to Another Major issue.

But then, things halted. As you can see, there’s this really cool looking effect on the side of the screen. The problem is… that’s not supposed to be there. That’s the effect you get as you travel through the wormhole to get to Oribos. This is how the whole situation happened, though according to the forums these 2 issues are completely separate:

  • I moved on from Maldraxxus, which is a cool zone for those fans of necromancers in WoW, into Ardenweald. This zone in pictures was gorgeous and the creatures and NPCs that were in this zone looked so stunning. I suppose it helps that this zone had beautiful shades of blue everywhere. It was fun questing, finding mischief with the NPCs… until I go to turn in the quest.
  • There was seemingly everyone on the server who was trying to also unsuccessfully turn in this quest. Tried the usual things and even abandoned the quest. I tried to retrieve said quest, “Tending to Wildseeds”, and the NPC was nowhere to be found. Cool.
  • I hearthed, forgetting that my hearth was back in Bastion. Easy enough… just fly back to Adrenweald and try going back again. Except when I landed, now I’m stuck with this wormhole effect that lags and makes playing impossible.
  • Go to the forums, it’s a common issue. Just do an arena skirmish or instance and it will clear when you get back out. Went into an instance, could barely do anything because of lag caused by said instance, then got out and still had the issue.

The Problem With These Issues

As already mentioned, the wormhole effect makes it so that the game lags horribly and I can’t really do anything. Which I suppose is fine, because apparently I can’t do anything anyways. In Shadowlands, the quests are linear. So when a quest bugs and you can’t do it/turn it in, you’re stuck in the game. You can’t get quests elsewhere. You can’t just move onto another zone. While I enjoy the linear storytelling of this approach, when you have a bug that breaks the game so you can’t complete the quest you are stuck in a loop of nothing. You can’t do anything, except instances. Which, with the wormhole bug, makes that impossible too.

The Concern

The game is supposed to be released next month. This has apparently been an issue since the beginning of September and if it’s still an issue today, then is the game even going to be able to be released on launch day? Or are they just hoping that people won’t level that high until some time (/lulz) and they can just wing it? Is the response to just not make that a quest that requires you to move on?

Please Make This Work

The beta in Shadowlands has been fun. I can’t wait to play it more… maybe another toon won’t stay perma-stuck at 57 because of the same bugs. Maybe not. But I’m actually still really excited that this could be a fun expansion with a great story. I’m hoping later this week, with the kids back at “school”, I can get into streaming it. For now.. please make the game work. I really want to try the covenants.

Overwatch League Playoffs 2020: The First Week

I went into the knockouts expecting the Boston Uprising to lose their first match. I still was going to watch and root for them, since I’m not the type of fan that just turns my back on my favorite teams. But I mean, they weren’t going to win right? Even if they were going up against Houston, who has had a difficult time lately. I would’ve been okay with a Houston win, since I like the team. They are good people, have great role models for kids, and are just generally hilarious when you read their social media or watch them stream. But then, the first match broke so many brackets. Because Boston won that first match!

I couldn’t believe it. They did so well the first map. They rolled out with different comps each match. They tried new things. They played aggressively. Our DPS played on characters that they were actually good at. Myunbong was on his apparently most amazing character ever (Ana) and just tossing out sleeps that seemed impossible to get. If this was the team that we had all year, we would have had more than just 2 wins in the regular season. While I admit that when I saw Fusions roll out on the Roadhog I was scared, it turned out so much better than I thought. He was able to play more aggressively, which seems to be his preference. Punk was amazing. They were all amazing. It was incredible and bittersweet to watch. We finally get a meta that works for us, and it’s in the playoffs.

Then the drawings happened for the playoff teams to pick their choices for the next round of knockouts. The first team didn’t pick us. (Gladiators) Then, Atlanta’s resident “villain” picked us. However, instead of his normal trash talk saying things like “ez”, he picked us because he wanted to see the drama and storyline about Decay (Justice) going up against his old team (Fuel) that released him while badmouthing him right before the playoffs.

Now, of course we lost the second round, but I’m not disappointed in the loss. They didn’t get destroyed. They put up a fight. They looked good; just Atlanta looked better.

The playoffs showed me that this team had talent. It showed that I was right; you figure out a way to let these guys play the characters they are good at rather than forcing a meta and they win. They look and play more confidently, which means that they are more aggressive. It was far more enjoyable watching the Uprising lose to Atlanta in the playoffs than it was to watch them lose practically all their matches all season long. Why? Because they played their heart outs. They looked great out there. They weren’t losing because they were terrible; they were just losing because Atlanta was just a little bit better.

What do I want to see next season? I’m definitely hoping for new coaches. Ones that can plan out better strats and work with the strengths of the players rather than forcing something that obviously isn’t working. Is it the coaching or HuK micromanaging? I’m not sure. If he is, maybe he should take a step back and let the coaches do their job. The playoffs showed the potential of this team. I wouldn’t be opposed to everyone staying now. I would even keep Fusions as a tank. I want the team to have more players next season, so that you can swap players in and out like other teams do. Because character picks can be dependent on the meta and the map, so the ability to swap players in and out means that you can get the perfect comps for each map. At least one backup for each position. I’m not asking for a lot here. And maybe next season, actually swap players in and out. Or change strats on the fly. Because there were so many games this season that the team just smashed their head against the wall repeatedly hoping for different results but getting the same exact stomping by the other team. Maybe then, we can have a winning team.

My pick for the Grand Finals winner is Shanghai. I have them in my now deceased bracket going against the Shock in the finals, but I’d love to see a Shanghai win. Plus, Fleta was my pick for MVP so I’d like to see that too. The Shanghai redemption arc would be so amazing if they could add “Grand Finals Champions” to their name.

Those Incredible People You Encounter When Gaming

I debated writing about my experience in the Shadowland Beta this week, but maybe I’ll focus on that another day this week. Today, I was inspired by my encounter playing games today in Overwatch.

I’m not the best Overwatch player. I’m decent enough. I would argue that I’m Mystery Heroes good. I play decently enough but I play because I have fun. I play Mystery Heroes because I was tired of being bullied in competitive, though I would have really loved to make at least Plat since I came so close before quitting. I would have loved to get a gold weapon for at least D.Va. Why did I quit? I primarily play tank or support. Both roles require chat, probably more than other roles. It’s insane how quickly people turn on you at the lower ranks the minute they hear a female voice.

So I don’t play any Overwatch that requires voice chat. I can have just as much fun and get the competitive experience just by playing Mystery Heroes all day long. Sometimes, on Tuesdays, the husband and I play together and he gets me to play quick play for the quicker queues since he mostly plays DPS. But I enjoy that because he can speak for me. I don’t have to worry about anything and he does the call out and I do what I’m supposed to. It’s simple. And I have the safety net of support when playing.

Usually things aren’t too bad lately. But today I played for a little bit before work and having to take my kids to their school to pick up their lunches and it was a nightmare. It reminded me of why I hate playing video games that require interaction with other people. Things were going well until we were getting held by 2 Torbs (Mystery Heroes, of course), and tanks on the final area of Dorado. Finally, we get a healer. I was Mercy. One of the Torbs on the other team Molten Core. This guy and the Rein decide to go through the fire, which would kill me. I stayed back to wait for it to go away and then went in to heal. The Rein died and this guy nearly died. Healed him up a little, then rezzed the Rein. Went back to heal him, he got focused and killed. Then someone says “Too bad we don’t have any good healers.” I didn’t engage, because I never engage. Then he said “Right Leigha?” (My gamer tag is Leighanneore.) Again, ignored it. Eventually we get a better comp, I’m back healing on Baptiste, and we roll through pretty easily after killing the Torbs. I had over 6k healing and gold and I was only healer for that last point. So, I guess super bad?

I paid such little attention that I didn’t even know who said it. I just endorsed everyone on the other team. I end up in another match. Blizzard World, again on attack. We rolled through the first point pretty easily but then started to get held on the last section again. I was Rein, trying to shield a Pharah from above and the rest of the DPS. I stayed with the payload, people were behind me, and I had my shield up to protect the team from the Pharah. The Pharah shot behind my shield and a baby D.Va died. . Same person as last time, “Nice shield, Leigha”. I rolled my eyes. I was getting frustrated because why take us losing out on me? I ended up on Torb, we destroyed through the map and again won. I even ended up with a terrible PotG where I killed a couple people, then dumped lava everywhere and killed more.

I ended up in another map with this same play, fortunately not on the same team. I felt bad for the other team because the way he was mocking me was ridiculous. And uncalled for because it wasn’t my fault we were losing. It wasn’t my fault Rein doesn’t have a dome 360 shield or that Mercy can’t heal through a dumb idea of running through lava. I know that logically, but it stung more than it should have. My team beat the other team and I got to knock him around as Brig. Then he went into another commentary about how everyone was bad at the game but him.

I didn’t want to stop the day on a bad note. A note of a reminder of why I avoid multiplayer games and social interaction in general. I get into my final match of the day and I was shocked by something: kindness. A teammate was being friendly and others joined in. We rolled and they were excited and being so awesome. I never interact, but I did comment in between rounds: “I’d legitimately like to say that this was my first positive interaction in the game today. I’d like to thank you for that.” I meant it. They were giving smiley faces and being generally awesome. I was Mercy, did moderately well, we won. They were happy and saying great job and everyone rocks and how fun it was. That one positive interaction made up for all the negativity for the rest of the day.

Just like in the real world, some people are absolutely trash human beings and others restore your faith in the other players in the community. The fact that they can be anonymous, a faceless bully makes them feel like they are powerful. But they aren’t. They are the same level of trash as people who bully in “real life”. They use their power of words to take people down because they are terrible people or because their life is terrible and they want to take it out on you or because they feel small. Knowing this doesn’t make you feel better in the moment. In the moment, you just feel small and without confidence.

It didn’t get into my head. I still focused up and played despite what will just become a minor inconvenience to my day. A brief feeling of never wanting to log on the game again because I can only block him for 7 days, so what’s the point? There’s no way to monitor someone harassing people on voice chat, so there’s no point in reporting him for toxicity. I even re-watched the moments where he acted like a fool to see if I made any mistakes. After review of myself and a second/third opinion, it wasn’t my mistake. But being right doesn’t matter. What matters is that people tend to ruin everything.

So what’s the moral of this story? For as much trash as there is in the gaming community, there’s even more good. I’ll still never feel confident enough or comfortable enough to play competitive and climb the ladder. But I can take be mostly ok with this and bring it to every arcade match. Because I don’t need to win. I don’t need to do anything but have fun and get better at the game.