films · inspiration · technology

My Social Dilemma

This morning, I was able to watch a documentary I have been interested in since I learned of its existence about a couple of weeks ago: The Social Dilemma. It’s available starting today on Netflix and I urge everyone to give it a watch. And when you do, put your phone on silent or even turn it off so you don’t get distracted because this throws a lot at you and will have you thinking about your social media usage and your relationship with your phone and technology by the time it’s over. It goes into great detail about how these social media apps actually work and the bubble that we are all in. It also discusses how we are products being sold. Some of the concepts were very obvious, but it felt that it needed to be addressed by people who worked with these systems and know how they work firsthand in order to really get it.

The Social Dilemma promotional image courtesy of Netflix

Honestly, this might be one of the scariest documentaries I have seen so far because it’s very real and it’s happening right now with no end in sight, or so it seems. Despite not wanting to, I saw myself too many times being described in this documentary. And it truly haunted me a little bit. I do have some hope with The Center for Humane Technology (https://www.humanetech.com/), which I definitely plan to learn more about in the near future! I already subscribed to their podcast!

As a result from watching this documentary, it really inspired me to look more at my phone usage and the apps I have on there. I deleted almost 50 apps today, as well as almost my entire photo gallery that was sadly, mostly full of memes I had saved while endlessly scrolling through the depths of Twitter.

So, which apps survived? Well, not a whole lot. I have what I would categorize as “essential apps”, like apps to pay my bills and an app for my bank account. I went down from about 14 photo editing apps to only one, PicsArt, which I use to edit my gaming screenshots for Instagram, which is the only social media app I have left on my phone. I debated keeping Twitter, but ultimately, it had to go. Apple Music and Play Music are also still on my phone, as well as Audible and the Google Podcast app for some nice, easy listening on breaks. I do have Ipsy, Amazon, Dunkin, and Starbucks apps on my phone as well… that can’t hurt, right?

Another thing that I did?

I turned off notifications for the apps that remain. I have text and phone notifications on, and that’s it. I don’t get a notification every single time I get an email, or someone “likes” something I posted. It’s been only 12 hours but let me tell you, it feels awesome. It’s sad to wonder what life was before all of this technology just… happened. You don’t need to always be online or be connected to live. I think it’s the opposite: you need to disconnect. Not even 100% or permanently, unless you want to, but just enough so that using these things becomes healthier.

This even rolled over to my Playstation 4. I cleared out the storage almost completely, deleting games I doubt I will ever play again or am completely done with. And it felt good! 

We’ll see how it goes. I’m wondering how much of an impact this has all had on my mental health. Time will tell.


PS: An interesting article popped up today about bringing back the old school “away message”, and seems relevant, check it out here!

inspiration · various life things

Decluttering Online: a small start.

With how things have ended up this year, there’s been more time to sit around and think about things that I normally wouldn’t have thought about since there hasn’t been as much to do the past few months. 

Things such as… why do I still have a last.fm account? Why do I subscribe to it for $3 USD a month just to change the scrobble tags since they never come out right? Why do I even waste my time doing this?

I used last.fm for a long time. It’s a good way to observe your listening habits across all (or most) platforms you would use to listen to music. I liked it because not all the artists I listen to are on streaming platforms (yet), so it was perfect to be able to see how many times I listened to all these artists.

But, is it really necessary? Especially when I was actually paying money just to change tags because they didn’t scrobble correctly? Hello? 

I got caught up in the whole STREAM STREAM STREAM thing and it really came to a head earlier this year when I realized I just didn’t care anymore to make the effort. I had templates saved for how to make playlists on Spotify and YouTube to get artists streaming numbers up. It’s not that I don’t care to stream my favorite artists, it’s that I want to stream them and have fun listening to them without worrying about the numbers and how many times I streamed X song. I realized that I was not having fun listening to music anymore. It was actually becoming stressful. Stressful to the point where I actually missed a ton of releases earlier this year because I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I deleted my last.fm account a couple months ago and it was a very freeing moment. I’m finally catching up on music releases and most importantly, I’m having fun!

Another thing I realized was how many subscription services I was actually subscribed to but wasn’t really using. I ended up getting rid of Disney+ (though, it will be back for the second season of The Mandalorian), and Hulu because I was barely using them. I also got rid of Spotify after also using them for years and am now with Apple Music because they have a much wider selection of Japanese pop music which I have gotten back into full force this year. And Apple Music is cheaper for me too since I’m still able to use a student discount. I did get rid of YouTube Premium for awhile, but it’s back now to get rid of political ads. Or maybe I shouldn’t be watching YouTube as much as I do so I wouldn’t have that problem.

For the platforms I did keep (Netflix, Prime and HBO Max only because I get it for free with my phone plan), I deleted my entire queue for each one and have started over completely with them. It has actually helped me find shows and movies to watch that I have ended up completely loving like Extracurricular on Netflix which I can’t recommend enough! Also, it’s not overwhelming anymore to log on to them and feel like I can’t find anything to watch among the thousands of options. 

The only thing I still need to work on is my video game backlog which just continues to grow everyday it seems like… always something to work on!

gaming · writing

The Screenshot that Inspired me.

Admittedly, for a long time, I struggled with finding the motivation to write. My first major problem was that I didn’t know where to write. These days, I’m more into technology so I wanted to write a blog online somewhere instead of handwriting everything. I actually had an old wordpress a few years ago, which is now long deleted, where I would write solely about video games. Then I realized I also wanted to write about music and maybe post some of my photography. But that wouldn’t vibe well with my video game stuff. So, I ended up just shutting the blog down and not doing anything. 

I also tried Livejournal for years. I would always go on there and be, “oh hey, I’m going to write here everyday about stuff” and it would work for a couple of days, then I would lose my motivation again and just never log back in for another year (literally), just to do the same thing all over again whenever I eventually did go back. It made me wonder how I was able to sometimes update on Livejournal multiple times a day when it was hard to even update it once a day. How?!

Back in February, I decided to try my hand at opening an Instagram account for screenshots of the video games I played (virtual photography, which I will write about a little more soon), and just gaming in general. At first, it was very much centered around Resident Evil, but since then, has kind of turned into a more Final Fantasy 7 Remake based account. Though, I definitely do plan on posting more content on there than just Final Fantasy! It’s good in a way though, because going through the screenshots I took from FF7R really inspired me, and one in particular really got me thinking about how and where I wanted to write:

Aerith Gainsborough and Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Captured by me.

I wish I had taken more photos of Aerith’s garden and her house in general. It’s such a peaceful area in the game and I really loved being there. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live there?! Next time I play, I will definitely be capturing more footage of this area. Anyway, an interesting point to make is that Aerith really became one of my favorite characters from the entirety of Final Fantasy in this remake. I always loved her, but felt like I identified more with Tifa. However, Aerith really struck me in this. I’d love to look at the original FF7, Advent Children, FF7R (and all other FF7 related games/media) to find more insight as to how this happened. Maybe over the years it’s because I prefer playing as characters who cast magic? Maybe I prefer playing the healer role? Maybe I feel more for Aerith because of her backstory now? After editing the photo for my Instagram, I thought of the title of Aerith’s Garden as a place to share my thoughts on various subjects, and felt that if I could even write at least 500 words a day on anything, it would help me get back into writing.

I’m glad that Aerith and her garden were able to give me inspiration to make this blog, as cheesy as it sounds. And thank you for reading my tiny ramble of the day.

gaming

3 Games I’m Excited For!

I figured since I’ve been slowly diving back into horror games lately, I would start this off with 3 horror/mystery-esque games that I am most excited for that are coming out in the next couple of months.

Death Come True promotional image from Nintendo

The first one is Death Come True, which is actually out already on Steam and Nintendo Switch. However, it will be coming to PS4 on October 15th so I am waiting for it. This is another FMV style/live action game that seems to be becoming more popular. I’ve seen many of these games over the past couple of years and they all intrigue me. This one stars Kanata Hongo, who I absolutely love, and Kuriyama Chiaki, who I also absolutely love. Coupled with the fact that the writer and director of this is also the creator of Danganronpa, I am very interested in playing this. The basic premise is that Hongo’s character wakes up in a hotel with no memories and discovers he is a serial killer. Or is he? We’ll have to wait and find out in October unless I cave before then and get it on Steam.

Remothered: Broken Porcelain promotional image from PushSquare

The second is Remothered: Broken Porcelain. This is coming out on October 20th, just in time for Halloween. It’s a sequel to Remothered: Tormented Fathers, which I thought was brilliant. Despite some of its issues, it was a very creepy and interesting horror experience that I highly recommend to everyone who is a fan of the genre. I have been trying to avoid most of the new stuff about Broken Porcelain so I don’t have a lot to go on other than Rosemary, from the first game, is back and continuing her investigation, and we are introduced to new characters, one who is named Jennifer. The way everything tied together in Tormented Fathers was well done, so I have no doubt that the new characters and story elements will also tie in nicely together to form a great horror story. I’m very excited to play this.

Little Hope promotional image from IGN

The third is The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope which is coming out right at Halloween, on October 30th! This is from the creators of Until Dawn and Man of Medan, both of which I loved. Though, I think I liked Until Dawn a little more? I need to play through Man of Medan a few more times because I only played it once when it came out. Anyway, like the previous games, Little Hope seems to be another character and story driven experience. This time, we have witchcraft as a subject, so I’m curious to see how it goes. I also heard that this game took some inspiration from The Blair Witch Project (or maybe just the lore). Actually, take a look at the above image I posted and look inside the O of the word HOPE. Look familiar? And yes, that is Will Poulter in the image as well and I’m excited to see how he does in a game like this. One thing I really like about these games is how the timeline completely alters and shatters depending on your actions. You can have a perfect ending where everyone lives, or the worst possible outcome of everyone dying. 

All I can say is that October is going to be a very creepy month for gaming. I will be writing more about these games as they release and I play them and possibly starting to upload game play videos on YouTube but we will see! If I have time, I will also try to cover some FMV/live action style games, Remothered: Tormented Fathers and possibly both Until Dawn and Man of Medan all before their respective sequels release.