March 13, 2014 / Leave Your Virtual World Behind
And start leaving your mark on the real one.
The real world can suck. We already know this. A lot of guys that visit JoshSway.com are quantitatively-minded, or "left-brained." They want things to be rational and practical, and the real world often isn’t. Social conventions seem arbitrary, and concepts like "attraction" and "body language" can’t be defined with numbers. Most of the advice on this web site is geared towards bringing some order and logic to the chaotic world of dating, but it can only go so far. This is why we often suggest you get off your computer and go get women, because improving a qualitative skill, like kissing a girl, can only happen when you’re out there trying it.
But if you’re frustrated with the real world, then perhaps you’ve found solace in a "virtual world." This is usually an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Game) like World of Warcraft. In these worlds, things make sense. Skill and power are easily quantified with numbers. Increasing those numbers is strongly correlated to time. Social interactions seem much easier since they’re much more streamlined – it’s much simpler communicating via a chat client than in person. In many ways, your virtual world gives you comfort.
But if you want to find success in the real world, you’re going to have to leave it.
Sorry, but it’s true. Your virtual world is holding you back. And this is why:
It’s an escape.
This is the question you have to ask yourself, and answer honestly: imagine waking up one day, and there you are in Azeroth, Faerun, or the Middle-earth. Does this sound appealing to you? In other words: if you could actually live in your virtual world instead of the real world, would you do it?
If you answered "yes," then you have a problem. Because your virtual world is an escape, and is essentially compensating for whatever deficiencies you have in your real life. Every time you bomb a class, get passed over for a promotion at work, or get rejected by a girl, your virtual world will be standing by, tempting you to enter and forget those problems for now. So you don’t study, you don’t advance professionally, you don’t go out to try and meet new girls. Your real life stagnates even as your virtual one advances, which makes it all the more likely you’ll continue to escape. Even worse, your real life may not just stagnate but recede.
Virtual worlds are fun, but they should never feel superior to the real world. As mere entertainment, they’re fine. The problem is how easily they can morph from entertainment into an all-encompassing entity that dwarfs everything else you might care about that. Don’t let this happen, and if it’s already happened, then STOP.
Very little in a virtual world helps you in the real world.
When play a sport, you don’t just get better at that sport, but also gain lots of ancillary benefits. Your health and fitness improves, you build confidence, you gain leadership and teamwork skills, and you bond with your teammates. When you play poker, you learn probabilities, concentration/patience, and how to ‘read’ your opponent and their body language. What are you getting better at when you play in your virtual world? Some of them will help with vocabulary and math skills, but not nearly enough that they can justify your time. Worse yet, they literally teach you zero about interacting with people in the real world… because you’re not interacting with anyone in the real world!
Many of these virtual worlds have some social element, so sure, you may join a guild and chat with people and go slay some dragon pixels together. But you’re still just typing in a text box or talking in voice chat, and not actually interacting. You’re not paying attention to voice inflection, exchanging body language, or doing any of the dozens of important things that matter in the real world but don’t in your virtual world. And you are definitely not learning anything about building attraction to a woman, and everything else we talk about here on JoshSway.com.
It takes too much time.
Look, the reason why I’m so against virtual worlds is I used to be totally consumed by one. I used to be an avid player of World of Warcraft, and they have a feature where if you type in "/played," it will tell you how long you’ve played the game in your entire history. I did this once, and 92 days came up. 92 days. That’s three entire months! I remember reeling and thinking about what else I could have done during that time. I could have started learning a new language. I could have trained for a marathon. I could gotten better at poker, or snowboarding, or any of my other hobbies. In other words, I could have done countless things that would led to a positive and long-term improvement in the real world. Instead, I was just sitting in front of a computer, clicking around in some attempt to get shinier pixels on my character than I already have.
From a sheer time perspective, this is insanity. These virtual worlds can be time consuming in a way that no other video games are. Another way of thinking about it is this: your virtual world will take up exactly all the "blank space" in your real world. I never lost my job, quit my other hobbies, or stopped hanging out with my friends to play World of Warcraft. But I basically stopped doing anything new, I completely stagnated, and this is why virtual worlds can be insidious. "I’m not an addict," you think, "I’ve got my priorities right." Except life isn’t just about maintaining your existing priorities and getting them out of the way so you can play more World of Warcraft. It’s about self-improvement and becoming a smarter, stronger, and more attractive individual.
You Don’t Have to Leave Your Virtual World Forever…
Quitting your virtual world now doesn’t mean you have to quit it forever. Just try quitting for a month. Just one month. The idea of quitting for a month will cause you to feel one of two ways:
1. I’m Fine With This.
Great! Maybe your virtual world wasn’t an escape, but it was still probably taking up a lot of time. In a way, quitting will be liberating — you’ll feel like you have all this extra time you didn’t have before. Use that time to focus on something else. At a minimum, go catch up with some friends you haven’t seen awhile, and go out and meet some girls with everything you’ve read on JoshSway.com’s articles and e-books.
2. Oh man… quitting for a whole month?
If you think you’ll feel major "withdrawal" and stress out that you’re ‘missing’ things in your virtual world… isn’t this a clear signal that your virtual world is an escape, and you’re addicted to that escape? But again, I’m only asking you to quit for one month. If you really want to, you can start playing again after that.
This is what you may realize though: unlike the real world, nobody cares when you vanish from your virtual world. The dragons pixels still breath their fire pixels, your guild just replaces you with another player, and the game goes on.
This might be perhaps the harshest truth of all: in your virtual world, you may feel powerful and competent, but you literally don’t matter, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. Slay all the dragons you can, slay more than anyone else, and you still don’t matter. The dragons will re-spawn, old guilds collapse and new ones start up, the studio releases another expansion pack. And again: you still don’t matter.
In the real world, you may feel insignificant and inferior. But you can change that. Because the shit you do in the real world? It does matter.
So leave your virtual world behind, and start leaving your mark on the real one.