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#2

Dr. Mark answers questions about learning how to socialize and convincing folks that online friends count, too.

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That was really interesting. I really like tips and how you handle these questions, Doc.

"YOU ARE A GREAT DOCTER!" ~Heavy Weapons Guy

While I think that both problems are different, they both stem from the same social isolation and miscommunication phenomenon around gaming and the internet, and both can be treated by a little less computers and a little more real life. That's about true for any psychological problem associated with our obviously socially damaged gamer/internet generation, and that's what most psychologist would tell us.

I really like this column, this is something different from the everyday gamer culture things that are around here on the Escapist, and I would definitely would like to see more, but how will this column, while certainly interesting, avoid the obvious trap of having the same "game less, live more" theme in every issue?

This was a marvelous read, really.

Thank God my parents are almost just as connected as I am so I have no problems with the "internet friends are not real friends" issue.

A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

_Janny_:

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

Yeah, it is good read I guess, but it really is sad when people say things like :

'I'd like to "get out there", make friends, and all that good stuff, but it feels like my ship has sailed'

If people really feel this way, I am afraid for the future. Their future. Others' future.

I always thought interacting with people was an early learned process. In hind sight I can see how my words may be seen/heard as rude, but seriously....

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

This reminds me of the kids who used to take LSD a lot, they were always paranoid of what everyone thought about themselves all the time. It really isn't a big deal, unless they are so easily swayed by others opinions.

Know what I mean?

Vodka Dude:

_Janny_:

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

Yeah, it is good read I guess, but it really is sad when people say things like :

'I'd like to "get out there", make friends, and all that good stuff, but it feels like my ship has sailed'

If people really feel this way, I am afraid for the future. Their future. Others' future.

I always thought interacting with people was an early learned process. In hind sight I can see how my words may be seen/heard as rude, but seriously....

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

This reminds me of the kids who used to take LSD a lot, they were always paranoid of what everyone thought about themselves all the time. It really isn't a big deal, unless they are so easily swayed by others opinions.

Know what I mean?

As people become more and more used to interacting online, it becomes more difficult for them to feel comfortable interacting in real life. Socializing is generally learned early, yes, but when much of your socializing comes via text message, email, or chat, you don't quite get the same feel for dealing with people face to face that you might. The result is that you get people who are fully-realized, comfortable, confident personalities online, but feel awkward and out of place chatting with people at a party. At least that's been what I've seen.

Susan Arendt:

Vodka Dude:

_Janny_:

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

Yeah, it is good read I guess, but it really is sad when people say things like :

'I'd like to "get out there", make friends, and all that good stuff, but it feels like my ship has sailed'

If people really feel this way, I am afraid for the future. Their future. Others' future.

I always thought interacting with people was an early learned process. In hind sight I can see how my words may be seen/heard as rude, but seriously....

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

This reminds me of the kids who used to take LSD a lot, they were always paranoid of what everyone thought about themselves all the time. It really isn't a big deal, unless they are so easily swayed by others opinions.

Know what I mean?

As people become more and more used to interacting online, it becomes more difficult for them to feel comfortable interacting in real life. Socializing is generally learned early, yes, but when much of your socializing comes via text message, email, or chat, you don't quite get the same feel for dealing with people face to face that you might. The result is that you get people who are fully-realized, comfortable, confident personalities online, but feel awkward and out of place chatting with people at a party. At least that's been what I've seen.

It would seem like you might be implying that kids shouldn't be given access to digital communities until they mature more.

I cringe when I see teens texting while walking with friends, at a dinner with friends, and driving with friends. It's almost like they don't realize they have friends in front of them. Maybe hey are addicted to the internet.

It is sad that people get so caught up in electronics. But I guess this is the wrong place to say such things.

Vodka Dude:

Susan Arendt:

Vodka Dude:

_Janny_:

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

Yeah, it is good read I guess, but it really is sad when people say things like :

'I'd like to "get out there", make friends, and all that good stuff, but it feels like my ship has sailed'

If people really feel this way, I am afraid for the future. Their future. Others' future.

I always thought interacting with people was an early learned process. In hind sight I can see how my words may be seen/heard as rude, but seriously....

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

This reminds me of the kids who used to take LSD a lot, they were always paranoid of what everyone thought about themselves all the time. It really isn't a big deal, unless they are so easily swayed by others opinions.

Know what I mean?

As people become more and more used to interacting online, it becomes more difficult for them to feel comfortable interacting in real life. Socializing is generally learned early, yes, but when much of your socializing comes via text message, email, or chat, you don't quite get the same feel for dealing with people face to face that you might. The result is that you get people who are fully-realized, comfortable, confident personalities online, but feel awkward and out of place chatting with people at a party. At least that's been what I've seen.

It would seem like you might be implying that kids shouldn't be given access to digital communities until they mature more.

I cringe when I see teens texting while walking with friends, at a dinner with friends, and driving with friends. It's almost like they don't realize they have friends in front of them. Maybe hey are addicted to the internet.

It is sad that people get so caught up in electronics. But I guess this is the wrong place to say such things.

Not at all. I'm simply saying that too much of one thing tends to result in a lack of another. As with so many aspects of life, it's all about balance. But, like you, I've been out with friends and watched as they obsessively checked their phones for IMs and such, apparently unable to simply not be online at all times.

I always thought, and always advocated people online were just as muh a friend as anyone you might meet in person. The key is, its really the same. You just have different mediums between you

Vodka Dude:

Susan Arendt:

Vodka Dude:

_Janny_:

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

Yeah, it is good read I guess, but it really is sad when people say things like :

'I'd like to "get out there", make friends, and all that good stuff, but it feels like my ship has sailed'

If people really feel this way, I am afraid for the future. Their future. Others' future.

I always thought interacting with people was an early learned process. In hind sight I can see how my words may be seen/heard as rude, but seriously....

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

This reminds me of the kids who used to take LSD a lot, they were always paranoid of what everyone thought about themselves all the time. It really isn't a big deal, unless they are so easily swayed by others opinions.

Know what I mean?

As people become more and more used to interacting online, it becomes more difficult for them to feel comfortable interacting in real life. Socializing is generally learned early, yes, but when much of your socializing comes via text message, email, or chat, you don't quite get the same feel for dealing with people face to face that you might. The result is that you get people who are fully-realized, comfortable, confident personalities online, but feel awkward and out of place chatting with people at a party. At least that's been what I've seen.

It would seem like you might be implying that kids shouldn't be given access to digital communities until they mature more.

I cringe when I see teens texting while walking with friends, at a dinner with friends, and driving with friends. It's almost like they don't realize they have friends in front of them. Maybe hey are addicted to the internet.

It is sad that people get so caught up in electronics. But I guess this is the wrong place to say such things.

Texting is a special case, at least in my eyes.

And I agree, it is sad people get so caught up in electronics, but electronics aren't the only cause for social anxiety. Take me for example, you could say I'm caught up in electronics, since I have few friends and rarely go out. But this isn't because of electronics, its because I don't connect with a lot of people. Especially during High School. Most people in my school were people I would never want to be around. Plus most of my high school experiences were bad. I know I'm not the only one who had that experience.

Games aren't the root cause of the problem, but they certainly exacerbate the problem.

I enjoyed this read much more than the last one. I'm glad to see Dr. Mark take on topics other than addiction in these articles. He offers sound advice, support, and reassurance that the only way to get over fear, is to go right through it.

A brilliant read, I can relate to some parts of the story personally. I am glad Escapist is featuring this. It's quite inspirational for me.

Susan Arendt:

Vodka Dude:

_Janny_:

Vodka Dude:
A person that is afraid to interact with people?? I fear for the future.

What's so baffling about it? It's just social anxiety, and it's pretty common from what I know. I wouldn't say that we're "scared to talk to people" but just tense that something we say might come out wrong or sound embarrassing.

Thanks for an awesome read, Doc. Looking forward to many more.

Yeah, it is good read I guess, but it really is sad when people say things like :

'I'd like to "get out there", make friends, and all that good stuff, but it feels like my ship has sailed'

If people really feel this way, I am afraid for the future. Their future. Others' future.

I always thought interacting with people was an early learned process. In hind sight I can see how my words may be seen/heard as rude, but seriously....

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

This reminds me of the kids who used to take LSD a lot, they were always paranoid of what everyone thought about themselves all the time. It really isn't a big deal, unless they are so easily swayed by others opinions.

Know what I mean?

As people become more and more used to interacting online, it becomes more difficult for them to feel comfortable interacting in real life. Socializing is generally learned early, yes, but when much of your socializing comes via text message, email, or chat, you don't quite get the same feel for dealing with people face to face that you might. The result is that you get people who are fully-realized, comfortable, confident personalities online, but feel awkward and out of place chatting with people at a party. At least that's been what I've seen.

The reason they have a hard time talking with people in real life is because around 80% of communication is not just words, it's how the words are said, body language, posturing and what not. I have a friend who is exactly like this, shes fine as long as there is a computer buffering her from the person but she is extremely awkward if it's face to face, to the point were she would rather date someone over IMs and texting then someone she lives close to. It's also a bit sad because if she ever does leave her place and goes out to a party or something she doesn't pick up on almost any of the social cues ether.

I got lots of grief from my family when I first started playing WoW. Even though I was still going out constantly with "irl" friends, they continued to tell me it was a waste of time. As I've been able to show them that I actually can have both friends online and in the real world, and that I'm not spending every single minute on the computer, they began to understand and accept the idea.

This was a nice read for me, because I feel the same as Dr. Mark does about the "online vs. RL friends" issue.

I thought this was a great blog. Its nice to have people Dr. Mark helping others with their problems. For the first guy if you read this, I too had very little social interaction with kids in high school except my computer gaming friends. I was picked on beaten up all of it. I felt like a outcast So I had great social anxiety doing just about anything. I started reading books and going out and making friends. Some books such as "how to win friends and influence people" -Dale Carnegie, "The Game" -Neil Strauss and a few others. Also changing your health can give you much more confidence in going out and meeting people. Although a personal trainer can be of great help, if your too anxious to go out try a video work out program like P90X. I changed my life, I can make many friends get dates, make out with girls in the club time to time LoL. You can change man, all you first need to do is feel you NEED to change and it will come. I am living proof of this

~Devastadus

I love these articles. They're such a good idea.

I can absolutely relate to the first guy. I'm only 22, but I've essentially been a recluse for the last five years thanks to severe social anxiety. I'm starting to work my way out of it, but already I'm starting to get that "ship has sailed" feeling. My university colleagues are all younger than me, my highschool friends have moved on, and I have no social network beyond my family and boyfriend. I know it's ridiculous - I'm only 22, for god's sake - but in my worse moments, I still feel it.

My boyfriend is 30 and is in the same boat as me. The feeling of being left behind haunts him a lot more. I'll link this article to him, I think. It might be helpful.

When we live in a society that discourage human intaraction because it's inefficient and gets in the way of productivety and proffit. What can you expect?

I'm only 34, but let me give you some examples...

-I used to go to my local post-office to pay my bills. I'd meet my neighbours and other known faces there and have abit of a chat... now I have to pay my bills over the internet.
-I used to get my groceries at a local shop where i knew all the people that worked there and they knew me aswell so we'd stop and talk and plan... now everything is moved into huge warehouses where there is a new face at the checkout every day and convo is limited to a simple "Hi".
-At work I used to call suppliers for help and tips and we'd end up talking about lots of other stuff aswell... now I have to write e-mails and then wait two days for a reply. I can't call anybody anymore because they'r all too busy answering fecking e-mails.
-I used to visit my friends and family several days a week and we would always have lots to talk about... now everything is logged on fecking facebook and twitter so when we actually do get together there is nothing to talk about.
-It used to be people would have to show up at work to actually work... now many people can stay home and work out of theyr computer. They even prefer it beacause they get more done that way.

Sometimes I get more "social interaction" from logging on to an MMO then I do in a whole day at work.

They had a very simple technology before even TV for those who were socially anxious and rather do things on their own... The technology was called books. :-P I mean, I'm socially anxious probably, but without video games and TV, I would just read more probably. I don't really like doing things in reality... I prefer the virtual over the real rather often, this includes documentaries, books (non fiction and fiction, video games, internet articles, etc rather than doing the same things that are in that format.

Flankhard:
When we live in a society that discourage human intaraction because it's inefficient and gets in the way of productivety and proffit. What can you expect?

I'm only 34, but let me give you some examples...

-I used to go to my local post-office to pay my bills. I'd meet my neighbours and other known faces there and have abit of a chat... now I have to pay my bills over the internet.
-I used to get my groceries at a local shop where i knew all the people that worked there and they knew me aswell so we'd stop and talk and plan... now everything is moved into huge warehouses where there is a new face at the checkout every day and convo is limited to a simple "Hi".
-At work I used to call suppliers for help and tips and we'd end up talking about lots of other stuff aswell... now I have to write e-mails and then wait two days for a reply. I can't call anybody anymore because they'r all too busy answering fecking e-mails.
-I used to visit my friends and family several days a week and we would always have lots to talk about... now everything is logged on fecking facebook and twitter so when we actually do get together there is nothing to talk about.
-It used to be people would have to show up at work to actually work... now many people can stay home and work out of theyr computer. They even prefer it beacause they get more done that way.

Sometimes I get more "social interaction" from logging on to an MMO then I do in a whole day at work.

Agree completely. Add "banking" to the list. You used to go into the bank and actually deal with a human, now everything is online. In many ways, that's very helpful, but it cuts a lot of human contact out of your life. At my last office job, we consciously made an effort to get up and speak to people when we needed something from them, as opposed to just emailing. If we didn't, it was very easy to go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Just a suggestion here, I think you should number these, so people can tell them apart by title.

Eric the Orange:
Just a suggestion here, I think you should number these, so people can tell them apart by title.

wow I was just thinking this.

I do know how it can feel like the ship has sailed. I am only 16 and I felt that when I was in elementary because I was very far behind socially. (bullying and social rejection furthered the problem) When I was home I wouldn't go to another friend's house because why would I go see the people I just spent 6 hours avoiding?

Playbahnosh:
That was really interesting. I really like tips and how you handle these questions, Doc.

I really like this column, this is something different from the everyday gamer culture things that are around here on the Escapist, and I would definitely would like to see more, but how will this column, while certainly interesting, avoid the obvious trap of having the same "game less, live more" theme in every issue?

Obviously, the column will get redundant if every edition is about gaming less. Probably a good way to go extinct if you write a column for a gaming journal as well! I actually do not have a mission of getting people to game less--I accept we will all probably be gaming lots, and I truly believe there can be much good about it for many of us. I find myself trying to help people develop what I call a "healthy integration" between their gaming lives and their real lives, though I also know many folks who have become so engrossed and even addicted where this seems impossible. For them, its got to be less gaming or there are serious consequences.

I hope to address a wide variety of issues related to gaming and the issues it creates in people's lives. Many don't have to do with whether or how much you play. If there is any psychological issue that affects your gaming life or relates to your game play, give me a holler!

[quote="Meemaimoh" post="6.204428.6981783"

I can absolutely relate to the first guy. I'm only 22, but I've essentially been a recluse for the last five years thanks to severe social anxiety. I'm starting to work my way out of it, but already I'm starting to get that "ship has sailed" feeling. My university colleagues are all younger than me, my highschool friends have moved on, and I have no social network beyond my family and boyfriend. I know it's ridiculous - I'm only 22, for god's sake - but in my worse moments, I still feel it.

My boyfriend is 30 and is in the same boat as me. The feeling of being left behind haunts him a lot more. I'll link this article to him, I think. It might be helpful.[/quote]

I think we are discussing two related issues.

One is the impact of gaming and other technologies on social development. I think Susan and others have spoken quite thoughtfully about this and its a huge issue in my profession. Are kids and teens missing out on the developmental experiences which will allow them to cope with the subtleties of non-verbal cues and other social input that are very important in managing complex social interaction? From my own professional experience, I can tell you that middle schools and high schools are seeing an epidemic of these kinds of issues. Its easy to attribute it to too much gaming/technology time, but one can wonder if it also has to do with less relaxed social time in families where kids can learn some of this stuff through modeling from the parents. These days many parents lead stressed, busy lives and the kids have a million activities as well. The relaxed family dinners I remember from my childhood (when we weren't yelling at each other or throwing food) are for many families a thing of the past.

The other issue, pointed to by this post, is that some people are simply more anxious socially--there are actually studies that show certain babies are more shy and reticent than others (I want to say some of them were by Jerome Kagan at Harvard, who did seminal work on infant temperament, but my memory is a bit foggy so I can't vouch for the reference). For folks with particularly shy and socially anxious dispositions, gaming may provide a tremendous respite and relief, and it may be a conduit to a kind of social life that is tolerable. This is mostly to the good, but what if it provides so much comfort that the social anxiety issue is never really addressed, at least as much as it could have been? That's where I worry it becomes a dodge. Game all you want to, but don't give up trying to achieve the optimal social adjustment possible for you in the real world. After all, there are some social experiences that we haven' t yet been able to simulate with games! And there are good treatments for social anxiety disorders which I have seen make a huge difference in many clients' lives.

Vodka Dude:

Is being afraid of people a huge occurrence?

It depends on the people. I work in retail, so I come across 400 odd people a day; and to them - and people here - I'm chatty (sometimes too chatty) but put me in a room full of people and I tend to slink off.

People in general are really nice, but there's always that occasional dickhead that wants to prove themself at your expense. And there's no /ignore in real life.

Growing up, I can remember numerous times where I was attacked (sometimes physically) for no other reason than I was there. Playing in MUDs/MMOs gave me confidence to approach people from behind the mask of who I was playing, and strengthened me to the sheer brutality of certain people.

It's not just the "shut-ins" that have to deal with this as well. People who are easily picked out of a group tend to suffer a lot from unwanted attention, be it for positive or negative reasons. Coping with that can take a lot out of you, and that's often what turns people away from "the public".

For us, gaming can provide an easier way to compete on a level playing field; because we have something we can be praised for. And a little bit of praise now and then is what we all need.

Obviously, games can't replace real social interaction, but it's a good training ground to find out what is and isn't accepted. And who knows, perhaps there's a young elf out there who wants to know you IRL as well? :)

Great read as always from Dr. Mark

Eric the Orange:
Just a suggestion here, I think you should number these, so people can tell them apart by title.

POOF! And jus' like dat, eet ees done!

"DOCTOR!!!"
image

children like sims cause it is the only sim of its kind. nothing more complicated. they grow quite fast of it, my sister only played both first sims for year each and when facebook came she stopped playing petville just 2 months after she started. Guess that says she ain't a complete retard.

I've always kind of wondered whether the "80% of interpersonal communication is nonverbal" statistic is true. Does that mean that an utterly charming, completely extroverted person could talk about pie charts and convey the same thing as someone telling a joke whose body language was only 80% on the mark? I mean, what calculates the percentages?

Susan Arendt:

Eric the Orange:
Just a suggestion here, I think you should number these, so people can tell them apart by title.

POOF! And jus' like dat, eet ees done!

In keeping with the general TF2 theme - ENGINEER IS CREDIT TO TEAM!

mkline:
The other issue, pointed to by this post, is that some people are simply more anxious socially--there are actually studies that show certain babies are more shy and reticent than others (I want to say some of them were by Jerome Kagan at Harvard, who did seminal work on infant temperament, but my memory is a bit foggy so I can't vouch for the reference). For folks with particularly shy and socially anxious dispositions, gaming may provide a tremendous respite and relief, and it may be a conduit to a kind of social life that is tolerable. This is mostly to the good, but what if it provides so much comfort that the social anxiety issue is never really addressed, at least as much as it could have been? That's where I worry it becomes a dodge. Game all you want to, but don't give up trying to achieve the optimal social adjustment possible for you in the real world. After all, there are some social experiences that we haven' t yet been able to simulate with games! And there are good treatments for social anxiety disorders which I have seen make a huge difference in many clients' lives.

This is exactly why I quit World of Warcraft. I was never addicted in the classic sense (eg. I never felt a compulsion to play that was stronger than wanting to watch my favourite TV shows), but I was utterly reliant on it as an escape. I very rarely interacted with others for long periods of time via that game. I was only ever in one guild. I interacted a little in random 5-man groups and usually felt a false sense of accomplishment from that. I'm now careful to stay away from games that might give me that same feeling, because I know that they'll only be harmful in the long run.

Gaming doesn't have to be a crutch, though - it can also be a motivator. One of my goals for the future is to attend a LAN party. It's a highly social situation that seems like a lot of fun. And it has a few prerequisites I'm yet to achieve, like having a few friends to go with.

UnclGhost:
I've always kind of wondered whether the "80% of interpersonal communication is nonverbal" statistic is true. Does that mean that an utterly charming, completely extroverted person could talk about pie charts and convey the same thing as someone telling a joke whose body language was only 80% on the mark? I mean, what calculates the percentages?

Try telling someone something completely true while rubbing your ear, putting your hand over your mouth, without making eye contact or with a stuttering voice.

Now watch a politician speak about something you know he doesn't have an interest in. (Watch his hands for instance)

80% is a good number.

Even better, imagine BRIAN BLESSED telling you about Pie charts, or the softer tones of David Attenborough, or Patrick Stewart. You'd listen to them telling you anything, despite only BRIAN having a direct approach. But you'd believe and follow any of those three, purely by how they make you feel. BRIAN commands, David compels and Patrick inspires. All non-verbally.

That's what online interaction lacks, and why lots of people believe it can't equal real friendship. But there's still that 20% there.

It took me forever to get down nonverbal communication. Not due to games (only got a console in High School, but did have a gameboy. Hell I didn't have a cell phone till HS!) but due to sheer shyness.

I got better around the end of highschool, but it was college that really helped put the nail in the coffin. When you have no one that you know around you, no friends, and a dorm full of unknown personages you kinda have to step out and start growing socially.

I have nothing to say really except that was a really interesting read. Well handled questions as well as the personal perspective. I look forward to the next one.

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