Sometimes it is better to pull the plug. Wake up, smell the coffee, go outside. Breathe true air. Because what we have today is what I described before as information overload. Basically, because of technology, globalization, and human nature, we have too much stuff going on in our lives, and it’s starting to bog us down. As the internet grows bigger, our communication with others becomes stronger, products and services continue to come to us from every part of the globe, and as we desperately strive to fill ourselves up being a part of this entire information ecosystem, by sharing, ranting, and basically enjoying it, the overload will continue. In this article I will share with you my experiences in trying to control my personal information overload, and hopefully you could derive some kind of solution in your own overload problems.
Well, not that my advice would be of any significant value. There are better people out there who are better-equipped (physically and/or mentally) to deal with their real-life issues. I am here as a typical geek layman, someone who is supposed to love information overload by the nature of being into anime, games and technology. First things first… when did I jump from loving information overload to loathing it? Since I started being in the corporate slave, of course. I have worked for quite a while now, and I find that my down time isn’t as plentiful anymore as in my school days. Back in college, I was able to marathon tons of anime or play long hours of games. Not anymore. There were times I was too stressed out at work that I can’t muster to enjoy any kind of entertainment. Keep in mind that I also had worked in Japan for a freaking YEAR, and as someone who isn’t inclined in the Japanese work culture of going overtime every single day, coupled with the mostly-alone apartment life responsibilities like cooking and cleaning… I was really a workaholic.
Information overload is not just about entertainment per se, but all kinds of information including news, education, and even personal dealings. Back in Japan, sometimes I forget to check up on the international news. God knows if the world is going to end already without me knowing. In terms of education, as a computer programmer, I did want to learn more languages and hone my skills. My work was becoming quite stale and I was locked into a certain kind of skill set that doesn’t grow. Unfortunately I really don’t have much time away from work to do that. And personal dealings. I was completely ‘told’ by friends and family when I had never called back home or even chatted via internet for a few weeks. Those were rocky times in my psyche indeed. Imagine hearing news of a death of a relative or a school acquaintance, or changes like “oh and they broke up” and “she’s pregnant!” and “they’re married already”, when you are thousands of miles away and can’t share with them your happiness or sadness about their matters.
Coming back to my home country was quite a breather, but it wasn’t that easy either. Considering that I can’t do anything else (other than work and some play) there in Japan because I’m not from that country, there are more kinds of overload waiting for me at home. It was around this time, three years ago, that my prodigal journey had ended. My outlook towards my life had really changed from there. Sometimes you can see the desperation reflected in my blog, in which whatever promises I made would eventually fail anyway. In the end this casual, sporadic blogging would be the norm for the next years up until now. I came home quite beaten up, only to be beat up just more. I still have the same job, so even though I have a little more time in my hands due to not going overtime anymore, that doesn’t amount to much because I commute to and from the office through vicious traffic jams. My apartment in Japan was quite convenient… because I only walk half a minute to and from the office. Heh. Also because of this, I started acting like a hikki sometimes refusing to go on social meetings and such. Great, that’s no different from being inaccessible via phone or internet chat… actually that’s worse. So with my time similarly limited, with broken blogging, broken habits and hobbies, and broken awareness of things that are happening around me, I finally realized that I had been a victim of information overload. That would be the time when I try to start picking up the pieces.
Apologies for that long intro to my life, this is where “handling information overload” actually starts, lol.
I asked myself a lot of questions. What information do I need? What information do I want? What would be considered vital information? Can I sort out information? Is there a way to filter out information? How do I keep things simple. How do I keep information at a minimum without missing out? While I can’t answer those in a general way, I do find those questions as a great barometer. Those questions will only yield more specific questions, and those I can answer directly.
To give a specific example, let’s start with technology, particularly Linux. I admit, I’m a Windows guy… and if you ever see me going Linux, it will only be information overload for me. I used to try a lot of Linux operating systems from Ubuntu to Red Hat, but no matter what I do, I can’t ever use it. I can’t imagine myself using it everyday. Even if I completely configured my computer running perfectly in Linux, there will always be that hardware or software quirk that would annoy me into saying “why can’t this feature which is in my Windows be in my Linux”? Sure, as they say in Linux, if they don’t have it… write code for it. Heh, that’s kinda unproductive. Unless my career path becomes Linux, I don’t think I can handle it… so I threw it all away. It’s enough that I know what Linux is and that I know the gist of how it works. The time to go all out isn’t today. Thus my prime solution to information overload was born:
“If it’s not your battlefield, don’t try to make it your own.”
There should be a reason, a motivation, and an inspiration if you are into something. You shouldn’t enter into something with shallow thoughts, because it will only overwhelm you. As a Windows user, Linux is not my way into the computing world. I don’t need to learn more about Linux than what I know right now (I’m a pretty good end user). Now, for example, if my job requirement changed to needing Linux, then Linux becomes my battlefield. That would be the time to learn more about it, because it isn’t information overload anymore.
This general rule would apply to every aspect of information overload that I had encountered. It required me to gather whatever I had at the moment, and figure out which places are my true battlefields. Stuff that I am already good or familiar at. So lessee, in terms of anime, I’m into moe~, shoujo, and slice-of-life. Goodbye sports, mecha, action, and fantasy… unless they are good. This essentially limited my anime viewing to bare minimums, but because I only focused on genres which are my fortes, I don’t think I’m particularly missing out. In terms of education, whatever programming languages I am already skilled at, I can hone them more. International news? I don’t need to be watching CNN every hour right? Even just the headlines suffice. Real-life/social issues? At the very least, ping on messengers or check out social networking sites to check up on “people”, not what “people do that doesn’t matter” like their scores on their online games or something.
My solution is some kind of priority prioritization isn’t it. Focus on what’s important, with a small amount dedicated to whatever “may” be important. This is a very critical statement, because sometimes we prioritize those which “may be important” in our lives and those make up the bulk of information overload. We think too much on one topic, especially on the short term, that we forget that in the long run… it doesn’t freaking matter after all.
All your usual anti-stress methods are compatible with this, after all, many of our hobbies are anti-stress methods. With so much information available and ready for us to consume (or rather, ready to consume us), we have to start trying to counter by evaluating our own appetite. In the end, all it boils down is the will, the knowledge, the power, and the courage to identify which things matter to you the most. If it matters to you, it isn’t the one overloading you. All other things… are.
Sorry, this is not so much about Shugo Chara, as I have been backlogging that series since the first few episodes of Doki disappointed me. Well okay, let’s just say I can relate with Amu-chan in some things, especially the fact that she has some sort of multiple personality issues. When I left the story in the first season, she was conflicted with that fact that she has multiple “would-be selves” represented by 4 or 5 of the Shugo Charas. In due time, I’m about the enter the same phase.
Hallo. I’m a male lead in a bishoujo game! And in my world there are lots of girls, not any different from your so-called “real life”. I’m just a bored and boring guy just like some of you. Maybe some of you play me because I already have tons of girls served to me in a silver platter, something which some of you may never get to have because similarly you are wussies like me! But I will differentiate myself from you, because I already have the girls, right? All I do is pick one! Easy squeezy! And you know what? I can “screw” them in the end of my short life! Jealous? Well, I only live like a few months because most of the time my story ends before graduation or something… but still… lolz.
Let me tell you, it’s easy work! I just be “kind” to the girl I want to have… done! I bump into one girl, she drops her books and papers… I just pick them up! Hello there iincho! I just out-shout and out-smart tsunderes who are annoyingly loud at times. I can bring out her softer side. I can just act like a baby to those girls older than me. I can also act like a onii-chan to those younger than me. See? It’s easy! Because I’m fiction!
Now it seems like it’s nearing Valentines or whatever eh? Lots of bloggers and others proclaiming their loveless lives calling it SAD (Singles Awareness Day) or whatever? Hahahaha! Too bad for you guys, because you live in reality! I heard it’s more complex over there. What with all the emos and such running around the internets. Me? I’m not supposed to surf the internets in my world anyway. I only have highschool settings. You know what I think what’s wrong with you guys? The internet itself! It allows you to groupthink. You meet people with almost the same lives as yours. You hear the same cries. You become most the same. And yet you don’t know each other in reality. And yet you still derive something from each other in reality. If you’re ronery you become ronerier because you see similar ronery people making you not move yourself because “oh other people are like this anyway, so I’ll remain like this for the rest of my life.” Me? Sure I have a worthless male sidekick or two, but at least I’m not affected by other people in other bishoujo game worlds. My world is small… well, small enough that all girls in my world look beautiful. HAHAHA!
Ok fine, I need to reflect on myself, as I am actually giving you disservice as well. I am a “wish fulfillment” property. I am not real, but some people may consider some parts of me and apply it to their own lives. Sometimes it can be beneficial, other times, not so much. I’m not in the position to explain this complexity in your lives, because I am not complex enough to think so. Maybe you are. It will depend on your personality, the environment around you, and the decisions you make towards life. You are a complex being.
I’m sorry if I’m kinda boastful about my own fictional world. Well it’s not my fault that I’m fictional, some writer made it out of their own thoughts. More importantly though, the writers made it out by their “inspired” thoughts. Those writers, they live in real life like you do. They may have experiences like you do, and maybe some experiences you don’t have yet. Similarly, you have experiences they don’t have as well. Ooh it sounds all confusing to me. In any case, I think you have tons of ways to live your life. Me, I only follow my dialogue and decision points. This is important, because to me, everything is a script. The world you have there is sometimes unscripted, and you alone are writing it, one second at a time. You actions, your decisions, you control your reality.
I don’t know how to console you. I may not even have the right to. But if this is any help, here goes. If you compare yourself with others, you may become bitter and jealous. There will always be people better than you. It works both ways too. There will be people worse off than you. But that gives you no reason to screw up further. Also, let me tell you this, because my endings with my chosen girls are sometimes unwritten. There is life after love. Even if you got your girl already, there are still challenges ahead. I can only imagine what these are, because as I said, I can never live it. How to nurture these relationships over the years are still up to you. How you grow yourself is also up to you. Many of you think that love is the only thing lacking in you, not realizing other real things you lack. People are somewhat blinded by love, saying it’s the only thing that matters, especially in this love month season. Again, that’s just groupthink. Sure, your society seems to embrace that notion, and that singles who grow old being single are somewhat ‘silently’ frowned upon. Bah, but who cares what they think? If you affect yourself with their thoughts too much, you would only pity yourself further and you just sit in that corner crying.
There is some truth to the “be yourself” saying that is sometimes overlooked. If you just simply and literally “be yourself”, you may end up not growing up and moving towards the goals you are supposed to set yourself. I think a better way to rephrase it is to “accept yourself”. Whoever you are, whatever you are. Know your limits. ‘Then from there’, build on your limitations to pursue your goals. Realistic goals first before you insert any fantasies. Well, fantasy goals can be good too, it reinforces your positive thoughts. Be yourself, accept yourself, then change. The only thing that may be constant in your world is change. Sometimes it’s hard to change, I know. Personally I can never change unless the writer gives me an additional scenario in a revision bump or fandisk. As I said, I’m just at the mercy of my writer. Don’t be like me. You are your own writer.
I hope I made some sense. My fictional life may never be reality, but at least some part of it is. It would still depend on you if you can apply this to yourself or not.
(insert bishoujo male lead name here)
I’ve gone to the point where I care less what people think, and at the same time worried on what people think. It’s this impossible duality that boggles my life lately. I have this unbearable feeling that, because of so many factors, I may have forgotten an important human feeling. Hmm… that sounds Skip Beat-ish.
With my inherent weakness in dealing with people, I am unable to control the world around me. I would always think a lot. Worry a lot. Trouble myself a lot. Sometimes I wish I could read minds, because I can’t finalize my decisions on my own if I don’t have the big picture. Maybe I’m just a computer that needs input in order to give output. I can’t do anything on my own.
I am not an otaku. I don’t lock myself in my room. No matter how I wished to be alone, I am not. But in being so, I am hurting, because I’m sure that whatever I do, it would reflect to the ones close to me. If I have a tainted reputation, the reputation of my family, my friends, other people I know, may be tainted because of me. Am I thinking too outward? Or am I trying to just lose the burden on me, thinking only of myself? If I have a tainted reputation, I could care less, but still want to be happy. Me me me. Am I thinking too inward?
This blog was, to a certain extent, a vital outlet of my emotions. I was, and still am, thankful for the few views and comments. At some point, for some reason, I wanted to know more. I wanted to put faces in, meet a few bloggers in real life, look at what makes them tick. I lurk heavily on their blogs, their twitters, their sites, in the hopes of getting myself closer to them, because in the end, I am mostly alone. Even with my real friends, I feel alone. Even with myself, I feel alone. And despite my hope for closeness, I sometimes turn away with a (Shinji) hedgehog dilemma. I just hurt myself in the process.
Now I’m losing everything. Look how empty this space is. If this post won’t have comments, how would I feel? Further into darkness? The problem is not just this blog not being updated often. This blog is an extension of what is really happening in my life. I’m not â€œupdating myselfâ€. I’m not moving from this spot. I’m not changing. This seems comfortable. But in the end, I worry about myself. This is not about love anymore, this is about life. How, despite my desire for change, can’t just start anything that easily.
I won’t try to put on a fake mask anymore. Beyond sweet words, lol expressions, emo thoughts, whatever the season is. In the end only true feelings matter.
I am lonely.
Would you share in my loneliness?
“I fear the turning of the pages, the difference of the new. In the end, I refuse change, no matter how much I desire it”
While everyone in the anime blogosphere is busy arguing about subs-srs-bsns and rawwatching=imawesomekneelbeforezod, Iâ€™m here kinda reflecting about how I myself am continually losing my proficiency because I donâ€™t have anymore real-world outlets to refresh or retrain myself. Oh, and I decided to skip the JLPT3 this year because of personal scheduling conflicts. Itâ€™s true for me (at least) that anime or any other Japanese visual culturing alone cannot make me brush up on my Nihongo. There really has to be some sort of two-way conversation.
Video, audio and text can only give me â€œhalfâ€ a conversation. It improves my listening skills, trying to pick up every word and process them on the fly to hopefully make a coherent understanding of whatever has been written or said to me. But the other â€œhalfâ€ of it is primarily answering back. Me, talking or writing. Itâ€™s definitely HARDER. So there I was back in mid-2006, on the way to Japan. I really expect this to happen to me. I know fully well that no matter how many hours I expose my eyes and ears with kanji madness and moe~ seiyuu speaking, the real way to learn the language is doing it MYSELF. No more fiction, I have to apply it in real life.
So indeed, my early months were a nightmare. I was trying to speak with the Japanese folk in my workplace, but I was frequently corrected by them in terms of speaking the right words, the formality, timing, diction, etc. Iâ€™m thankful they were patient enough, but I still donâ€™t wanna trouble them too much, so I decided to sign in the slightly formal Nihongo schooling a friend recommended. Every weekend I go by train to somewhere in Meguro, attending lessons. I had initially requested to skip the very basic lessons because I already know something. But because admittedly I only am capable in the hearing part, I had to cram to keep up with the kana and some basic kanji. It was fun because not only can I practice conversation with a teacher, but also with my fellow students. My classmates were of different nationalities, so thereâ€™s definitely no (English) cheating in conversations, I really have to think and speak in Japanese because this is the only common among us. And itâ€™s a small group of students per class so it is easy for the teacher to nitpick about our strengths and weaknesses. I attended those sessions for two seasons (26 weeks), and from there life in Japan was a bit easier.
I was in Japan for about a year, and finally I went back home to the Philippines in mid-2007. With those lessons (and Japan-life in itself) as a foundation, I passed JLPT4. Now I have a certificate to brag right? Well wrong. It doesnâ€™t end there of course. I continually have to find outlets to maintain the skill that I had. Unfortunately, I have no Japanese friends, and I canâ€™t continue schooling because I am busy. I was able to take lessons in Japan, well because, heck, what â€œelseâ€ am I supposed to do there? Aside from work, there is nothing over there. I just canâ€™t hop the densha to be an otaku in Akihabara every weekend, nor do I have the finances to hop the train to be a tourist elsewhere. Back home, weekends can be a million other things because I have more friends to be with, transportation is cheaper, and what the hell, itâ€™s MY COUNTRY and I know it! Another bummer is that there is little chance that I would be able to go back to Japan by my employment. My resignation is more probable than that.
So without an outlet of â€œrealâ€ studying, I had to relegate myself to consuming anime and related stuff. This is where I discovered how it goes down like the economy. The first casualty was about the To Heart 2 ~Another Days~ game. I was supposed to play it and post summaries like before but the extreme complexity of the dialogue astounded me. On that note though, kudos to Leaf. I was able to finish Circusâ€™ Da Capo II without much fuss, and Iâ€™m going through Keyâ€™s Little Busters without problems today. But TH2AD was nightmarish, it has more complex sentences and words. Good writers, Leaf has.
The second thing I discovered was I am watching more subs than raws. I could argue that my anime watching has undergone a bit of a diet, but I was a bit overwhelmed by some anime series, namely Strike Witches, Lucky Star OVA, and Special A. Okay, thereâ€™s military-speak in SW, otaku-speak in LS, and odd shoujo-speak in SA, so it was a bit off of real Japanese conversation material, but for these shows I was willing to wait for the subs. I was fine though in Shugo Chara, Naisho no Tsubomi OVA and Itazura na Kiss, among others, but they feature simpler conversations.
Thirdly, I got tired watching jdorama. I donâ€™t have much interest in those anymore, especially since I am not frequently exposed to Japanese TV anymore unlike when I was in Japan. Back in Japan I â€œalwaysâ€ have the TV on, and so I absorb things like the quirky variety shows, random owarai, dramas, movies, showbiz gossip, etc. How I miss the gossip part lolz, especially when the trend is that many idol girl celebrities have owarai comedy actors as boyfriends. I noticed more of those than having a jpop or regular actor boyfriend. Cute girls go more for the funny not-so-handsome man eh? (self: chansu?) Similarly, my jpop music consumption has been lowered, with Animax-Asia not showing Music Station lately. Have they canned that already?
The active and passive form of my Japanese training fails me, so today Iâ€™m witnessing my return to innocence, and at this point, Iâ€™m still not sure what kind of solution Iâ€™ll take. Wellâ€¦ maybe I can relate this to the recent US Election perhaps? Suppose my time in Japan was the Clinton era, and after that, my Japanese skills going downhill is the Bush era, perhaps this is the time for â€œchangeâ€? Maybe a different kind of outlook, a higher purpose and a greater sense of responsibility.
Self-reflection: So why was I learning Japanese in the first place?
Yup, it was the animu. I was too engrossed in Japanese entertainment in general, that I want to understand more, consume more, and enjoy more of those things. As I grow up, and my real-life responsibilities increase, I had to sacrifice some time away from my hobbies, resulting in some lack of interest in the entertainment. You can also notice that in my sparse blogging. And so that kind of answer, â€œall because of the animuâ€, doesnâ€™t apply anymore. So the solution is changeâ€¦ a change in the answer to that question of self-reflection. Do I still have a reason for learning it? For nowâ€¦ Iâ€™m not sure yet. Who knows, maybe Iâ€™ll have a Japanese girlfriend, or another job going to Japan, or taking interest in other aspects of the culture aside from animu. Whatever reason it may be, itâ€™s not there yet. Just like Obama, all I have for now is â€œhopeâ€, that I can revive my interest in learning the language through another reason.
Knowing about the true story of Sakura in anime form was unprecedented for me. Even if I had already skimmed the surface, I guess the tale can still be told effectively in another way. The most important part of the experience though, is that I can relate somewhat to the character. Yes, Yoshino Sakura’s trials, tribulations and tragedies reflect my own set of current real-life problems. As a result, my heart breaks yet again for this fictional character, and in part, this fictional character gave me a source of reference, reflection and inspiration of myself.