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Reality is Broken: Community

Reality is Broken: Leveling Up in Life

This was the least engaging chapter so far.  It addressed using leveling up in real life to make things more engaging -- either to make boring things more fun or to keep us doing things we already enjoy doing.  One program she discusses is Foursquare, which by checking in at different locations is supposed to improve our social life (I just think it eliminates a private life and lets people know when you aren't at home so they can rob you.  Am I mistaken?).

I guess this was less engaging to me because I get things out of life already.  Even when I'm bored, I find something to occupy myself -- I bring something along to read, I contemplate, pray, or meditate in silence.  Or I just behold what is around me -- people, nature, buildings, etc.

One motivation for this leveling up is that we feel out-of-control, and being out-of-control can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.  Now, I wonder, do we need to then create things that make us feel more in-control, or do we need to give up our illusions of control and learn patience, simplicity, and contentment?  I vote for the latter.  And I think getting us to un-plug is one of the most important things the church can do.

McGonigal does discuss some of the potential negatives:

Clearly, we have to be thoughtful about where and when we apply game-like feedback systems.  If everything in life becomes about tackling harder challenges, scoring more points, and reaching higher levels, we run the risk of becoming too focused on the gratifications of positive feedback.  Adn the last thing we want is to lose our ability to enjoy an activity for its own sake.

But soon after this she quotes Lord Kelvin, "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it."  False.  Mystical experiences, the experience of the sublime, mindfulness, a relationship with another person -- none of these can be measured and all of them can be improved.

Not that there is nothing to learn from what she discusses here, but generally I found this chapter un-engaging and running counter to my preferred modes of living.


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