Offbeat 06 February 2015
Computer Solitaire games are great. They are an easy way to fill the minutes as I wait for the computer to do its thing, particularly open the five or six pages that I need to collect items for the news site that I look after, or as I wait for some or other chat response.
Each Solitaire game can be played in about five minutes. Normally when I decide to play one, I end up playing three. That’s fifteen minutes, and I do that three or four times a day. Call it a few good hours every week.
Other work drags out and has to be compensated for elsewhere: dreary late nights and yawning early mornings. Yet the games fill my head with the comfort of nothingness, no thought, just the relaxing ordering of the cards into suites and number series, and the count of games won and lost. It is part of my computer addiction, an insane waste of time.
As I sit here and write this, I have consciously not played for about 18 hours. I hope to save the time for better things: personal writing, reading, time spent with people and sleep. My fingers automatically point the mouse to the menu where the game resides. I have managed to stop myself every time. I hope my attempt at behaviour modification takes root.
The computer games are instant gratification. The gratification is deceptively easy. I don’t have to think about beginning a game. The challenge is to avoid that particular reflexive behaviour. I have other reflexive behavior: visiting some social networking sites, cigarettes and buying ebooks on Amazon. Too much of a good thing kills the passion and enjoyment. The games of Solitaire had no real thrill to them. I get frustrated when my wall on Facebook shows me reposts of things I have seen a hundred times, and all the standard boring quotes. I also wonder how long it will be that I can still enjoy reading, when I have all the books I can (almost) possibly want at my fingertips. The word ‘jaded’ springs to mind. The senseless Solitaire games are on their way. Now all I need to do is limit my time on Facebook and delve into mt to-be-read book list instead of buying so often. My life will be a lot happier. When I was a kid, the term ‘poor as a church mouse’ applied. I remember desperately wanting a yo-yo and those Coca-Cola cap liners, but the money wasn’t there. That sort of poverty was the legacy of my mother’s female earning power in an age when women were expected to rely on husbands, and not get divorced.
Instead of buying, we used to go window-shopping in the evening, when the shops were safely closed. The magic of the brightly lit shop windows, and what they contained, gave a palpable buzz, obviously in my case the toy shops and bookshops. When they finally arrived, the yo-yo and the Coca-Cola cap liners were disappointing. The joy of the toys and books only lasted a few days, as I remember it. The sense of wanting something was more intense and lasted longer. It is a repetitive experience. I wanted the bundle of television channels for years but, when I finally got them, they became so dull after a few months that watching television actually began to irritate me to the point where I would get up and leave the room.
I see it in others. The excitement of the latest mobile device ends just a day or two after the phone arrives. The phone becomes little more than a dull tool. The experience of losing my desire when I obtain an item is something that I draw on. I can walk through a shop, look at a DVD or a CD and not buy it. I know that the actual experience of having it will deaden my sense of want.
There is something interesting here, as I think about it. The want may also be greed.
And I can enjoy my greed as long as it is not satisfied. The card games appear to be out of the realm of my desire. Social networking is irrevocably with me. What I need to do now is preserve my joy of books. All I have to do is avoid buying them as much as possible from now on, or be much more discerning. It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be good for my greed.