Thank Grog It’s the Last Firday!
It’s not easy to step away from something that has been a part of your life for almost 8 years. I mean, that’s like 50 years in Internet Time! In all honesty, I already have a sense of relief, along with a smattering of “OMG!!! What have I done?” But, a smattering at my age, lasts about as long as it takes to book a tee time online.
In the end, it isn’t really about the game. Not by a long shot. It is about the community that grew from the game, and the relationships that will last well beyond the “final tap.” There are TONS of people…real people…with whom I have become friends, who are longtime supporters of what we tried to do here.
I have my detractors. It’s going to happen in a world divided in so many ways by politics, religion, social causes, and doing what’s right, even in the face of criticism. But, the fact is, I’ve never cared much about “keeping everyone happy.” The result was predictable. I have my “true fans,” as well as a handful of bona-fide “Patric Haters.” I take the good with the bad.
This is complicated by the fact that we all play a game (some far more than others) that is silly, by any measurement. But, we all know that. If you do something for 8 years of your life, and find yourself defending it to friends and family, you really do need to take a look at your motivations.
But, as I have said repeatedly, my motivations for continuing to play, write and battle, have little to do with the game, and far more to do with the community.
And, it is that network of friends that will get the rest of my attention in this final post.
But, before I get to the thank you notes, I do need to admit to my part in the creation of the small army of detractors. And it goes waaaaaaaay back to the beginning of the world of TSTO blogging. In the beginning, when the game was a cash cow for EA, and wasn’t just a footnote in the “other income” column of their annual reports, readership and alliances to which blog you followed, was huge. Millions of page views, from more than 110 countries…that huge. It was easy to become competitive, and let the “star factor” go to your head. I should have been above it. I’ve worked in Hollywood, earned awards, and watched the fickleness of “star power,” while losing your true self to celebrity. It was all pretty silly in the end. But, people, are that way.
As we have seen over the past 8 years (that’s two Presidential administrations for anyone doing the math), we have seen words become weapons, and the walls between “teams” become taller and more hardened. Misinformation, a lack of honesty, and faceless, anonymous, taunting through social media has become so commonplace, that I fear that the lines between real, and fantasy are blurrier than my vision before cataract surgery. And, I did it too.
Rather than taking the high road, “going high, when they go low,” as Michelle Obama often says, I often took the bate and slapped back. Sometimes super hard. I can cut with words like almost nobody else. My quiver is full of caustic phrases that can slay an opinion or a position, like a Samurai slicing a sub sandwich in half (tribute to Belushi). And the result? I have to work even harder to do the GOOD things in my life, while alienating many who simply got in the way. Not cool.
So, when we started doing the work in Buyijja, and I joined Rotary to participate and lead several local projects here in the Northwest, I softened, and realized that my words and actions could be used for influencing for good, as opposed to “just being right” without any actual solution to the problem that was being debated. But, the damage had been done. The virtual squads of “Patric haters” who vowed to never rest, never forget, and never relent, when it came to “making me pay” for things I wrote against the Addicts team during two years of separation, were set. And they never really stopped.
The Internet is a dangerous place to play. It allows us to decide something about someone, without knowing the full story, or who they really are. We make snap decisions over 144 character posts, and then spend days, months and maybe years, defending our reactions. Not a great thing for the future of civilization.
So, it has been important to know more about those who have followed my writing over almost a decade. It has been important to get to know them as people. And it is these relationships with those who have taken the leap to get to know me, and me them, in an effort to be more than just words on a page, that I will cherish the most.
First, the Addicts team.
Alissa is a force of nature, who works hard to keep things straightforward and bright. She is the “Queen of the Bliss-Ninnies” (and I mean that as a compliment), while having very clear lines that can’t be crossed. She has been infinitely patient with me, as I toed that line with open-toed sandals, so I could cheat, time and time again. But, it is knowing her personally, watching her family grow, and sharing dinners with her at an Italian restaurant in her home town, along with my own “East Coast family” (Katie, Ryan and my grandsons) who live not 20 minute away from them, that I cherish. Three degrees of separation, tied up with linguini! Long after this blog, game, and memories of the details of what has been written over the past years are gone, I sincerely hope that our friendship remains. I can’t wait for Sam and Jake to meet and hang out. They are both approaching 3 years old. They can probably teach their parents and grandparents a thing or two about dropping barriers and just having fun!
Joe. What can I say about the Wookster? Except that I never thought in a million years that I would know a real, live, Disney Jungle Boat Captain! But, of course, Joe is so much more. Funny, loyal, gentle, sweet, and giving, I know that we will stay in touch, as he moves from his career in the Jungle, to the jungles of teaching school. To pull off what he has, through all of the challenges he has met, is admirable. And all, with a fierce dedication to fun.
Safi…the most mysterious, and perhaps stable of all of us. You will never convince me he isn’t an international agent. And I admit, that in that light, his propensity for nuking his town repeatedly is a tad troubling. But, he is a married man now. It will be fun to see if this chapter of his life creeps into his writing. He is one of the nicest, most upbeat guys you will ever Zoom with. I wish we had met face-to-face.
The addicts team pointing to where Safi should be standing?
And speaking of never meeting face-to-face, Bunny and I were at the center of most of the drama in the early days. Looking back now, I admit to being a jerk, when it really wasn’t necessary. The fact that she was the primary target of my caustic wit, when I was heading up TSTOFriends.com, is both sad and pathetic on my behalf. I honestly think we might have shared two conference calls in the early days. The rest, was just virtual jousting, with teams of supporters lining up behind each. Sound familiar? Maybe like the 2020 election being played out on Facebook? The fact is…you can’t get much done when you never take the time to meet someone face-to-face, and realize that they are REAL people, and not just another cartoon character.
And yes, there is irony in that last statement.
The fact is, I have never met a single one of my detractors. I have received nasty e-mails, all sorts of threats, and even attempts to “expose your fraudulent money grabbing non-profit,” all without meeting me. I have no real idea what words I wrote to trigger such levels of vitriol. But, I am smart enough to know that once they were “in a camp,” there was little I was going to do to change their minds. They are faceless names on a page…using their anonymity (kinda mostly, because we can see their emails and IP addresses) to taunt and make themselves feel superior. They are most likely compensating for shortfalls in their own lives. But, guess what? I know how that works.
Most of the worst of what I wrote about Bunny, the Addicts, or going after some pinhead commentor, came after losing my Dad to cancer, and not being able to deal with it. It’s a crappy excuse. And ironically, losing nine friends and family over the past 18 months, has actually numbed me, and softened my view of those who attack, without taking the time to learn the facts. I’m 67, and still learning. Someday, maybe I’ll grow up.
The last words I will write as a TSTO team-member have to do with those who followed, supported and trusted me enough to reach out, be part of our work in Buyijja, Uganda, and become friends.
The list is too long to cover here, and out of fear of forgetting someone, I will not list names. What is even more of a showing of their amazing grace, character, and unconditional support, is that many of the largest donators to our cause gave anonymously and did not want thanks for their generous gifts. There have been hundreds over the years. And, I will be staying in touch, and hoping to break bread, have a drink, and share some laughs again in person, when this mess of a pandemic is under control.
Those who I have met in person, are amazing people…and will hopefully remain in my life, as long as I am around.
My heart is slightly broken, knowing that so much work in Uganda has been wiped out, or greatly hindered. But, I know that we changed lives.
The first time Maddy met and connected with the Village School in Buyijja…Spring 2014.
Shivahn…then just two years old, became part of our lives. Our family has paid for her boarding school ever since. She is doing well, as the “adopted daughter” of our project manager, Emmanuel.
It’s heartbreaking to wonder what has happened to the kids in this picture, just 16 months ago. Hope continues…we’ll see what reality brings.
We have watched some of those kids grow up, and move on, with an opportunity for a life they could not have had without the education we helped to provide. We will figure out how to move forward.
But, it was time to step away from TSTO. There is too much real work to be done. And no…I will never stop writing. It is a talent and a tool that has served me throughout my marketing, music, and internet careers. But, as I said, writing about a game, when the world is burning around us, just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
If you want to stay in touch, and read about our work, my thoughts, my actions, and my opinions on growing old, managing a huge family, life, death, love, and yes…politics and religion when it suits me…COME JOIN THE FUN. I’ll be writing weekly…kind of a Friday Filler, without the TSTO content!
You’ll find me at www.crankyoldguy.com.
I hope to see you there. I really do.