I am completely broke, and I don’t mean the “one ramen cup a day for a month” kind of broke. I mean the “I’m so broke, if I find a penny on the ground, I’ll probably owe it money” kind of broke. The worst part of this scenario is that the money wasn’t even used to pay off a death threat or some other sort of story inspiring motivation. Instead, it was simply used to purchase a simple set of cards. By cards, I, of course, mean, the new set of Magic: The Gathering cards released last Friday; but before you abandon me from sheer lack of sympathy, understand that you, dear reader, are also likely guilty of similar spending practices by the simple fact that you are a student at RPI.
I often find myself saying that I will quit playing Magic, but just as often, I find myself going down to the card store or asking a friend to split a box of booster packs. I mean, if I don’t buy the packs myself, I won’t be tempted to buy more things. That’s how that works, right? Whether it’s expensive cigarettes, bundles of cheap indie games, or some packs of trading cards, we all have our personal addiction, something we know that we don’t want or need, but we can’t get away from. Maybe you’re like me in that when one group of friends stops playing Magic, I just happen to find another group of people who do, and the vicious cycle starts again. Maybe the most reliable way to relax with your friends is on a cigarette break or happy hour, but one thing is the same no matter what addiction. Addictions are ridiculously expensive, and we end up reasoning our money away.
As a student at a technical institute, I, and most likely you, am a geek. It is a simple matter of probability. It is also a simple matter of nature that geeks are predisposed to obsessive personalities. We find something that we like or that we are good at and we single-mindedly capitalize on that one thing. It’s a pretty simple and straight-forward idea to have someone who is already good at a task, perhaps building a bridge or developing a game, specialize in that task, but it is that devotion to a single task that ruins him or her. We have let this expertise define us so completely that it becomes increasingly difficult to conceive of ourselves in any other way. I do not mean that experts are not useful or unneeded, but a jack-of-all-trades may have his cake and eat it too.
Getting out of an addiction is a tricky thing, too, and it requires a minimum of three types of people, some of whom are not always present. The easiest to find is the critic because, hey, everyone’s a critic. It could be an overbearing parent, or maybe someone you like (…a lot) or perhaps it’s someone you hate, but he or she will make an addiction an absolute hell. The second person is your salvation, which I like to call the support. As one of my friends likes to say, “We’re really bad at this,” because we really are. It is a sad thing that we find it hard to sympathize with others and give without taking in our society. However, the hardest person to find, and this is going to sound really cheesy, is yourself. If the internet and television have convinced me of anything, it is that it is impossible to convince anyone of anything at any time. Likewise, the worst person to try to convince me to do something is myself, but once you do, once you really, truly want to end this addiction, it’ll happen. Maybe I’m not one to talk, but I don’t have to be a good speaker to recognize a good speech. Think on it. Anyways, that’s my two cents.