Social engineering and self help
I finally found a new topic I’m interested in. Combined with several anxiety/depression forums I thought I’d share something I’ve learned, because it seems to be important for a few people out there.
First of all, please don’t abuse social engineering for evil things. It’s serious stuff and one can create a lot of chaos and make life worse for a lot of people out there.
Red star, your friendly Information broker on Nar Shaddaa, all rights reserved by someone else.
Something kids do, and something I never stopped doing. Playing is for learning, roleplay is for simulating situations and learning how to handle them. At some point there was a TED talk about how gamers use thausands of hours in gaming and grinding to get good at someting and I asked myself: since I do a lot of roleplaying, maybe I can use it to learn skills.Talking to people seemed always awful, I hated smalltalk and after someone had asked all their questions silence ensued and from what I know now I was overwhelmed with the pain of silence that emanated from the other person. People don’t like silence… I don’t mind it, but I do mind the anxiety comming from the other person. So I tried to learn how to fix it which was somehow to get the other person talking. I logged into my favorite mmorpg of that time, chose my character and went to be a bartender somewhere, the character went form bartender to information broker because all kinds of people wanted me to watch the patrons and sell them information about the characters.
But my job as a bartender was to make people talk so they would stay longer and buy more drinks. At some point I started to use these skills in the real world. Didn’t help with the anxiety itself, but it became a useful habit. I’m not afraid of people who talk to me anymore. Still I’m a very honest person. When someone asks me something I still trigger and cry. If I have a bad day, I’ll cry too. Same when I’m angry, sad or just upset. But getting information from people, making friends, and selling something now and then improved my life more than I care to admit.
If you do something compulsively, maybe you can use it for something good.
How does it work in detail?
I used Star Wars the Old Republic (referal link) which is free to play (you don’t have to pay for it). You can play a bit and decide what your character will be up to while you’re leveling. In this game it’s nesessary to reach a certain level to visit other planets. You don’t have to stick to the story they give you for your roleplay. The roleplay itself is purely textbased and there are a few rules on how to do it – google them if you’re really really interested.
shut up, this shirt looks good on me!
Your character can do a few engine bound emotes, like sitting or laying down, and you can fight in a duel and that’s it. When you go into roleplay mode you have to be at a location where other players stand or sit around and it usually goes like this:
Player 1: *Patron xy walks slowly into the bar, looking around, tensing up a little and finally comming to a halt at the counter*
You: *looks over to the newly arrived and puts down the glass he was cleaning* What can I get ya?
Player 1: Ale, cold, and I’m looking for some… entertainment…
You: rough week, hu? *walks over to the fridge, takes out a bottle and returns* Maybe you can ask Pat over there for a game of dejaric or two, but don’t bet on a ship or something. That’ll be 5 credits for the ale. *opens the bottle and hands it over to the patron. The color is green since it’s from Hutta and rumor says they use the local tapwater for this kind of drink*
What reads kind of boring is the thing that helped me overcome my fear of talking to people or not knowing what to say or how to react to what I see. Social roleplay is supposed to be a bit boring, but not so boring as to make people leave. Finding ones flow and learning how to make friends- or foes are simply consequences of this kind of training.
Why did it work better online and alone than to play with family or friends?
First of all: It’s a game. There is neither win or lose, if you’re stressed you can log out and never return. If it’s fun you can come back for more. If a character or situation doesn’t feel right you’re always free to ask for a bit of time for thinking or just doing it without asking. If your roleplay partner of the evening feels bored or upset he will leave or chat you some angry words. I find it easier to disconnect on these issues when I feel overwhelmed.
I try to stay in these situations though since I want to learn how to deal with them. Stepping back, asking for space, excusing one self and leave can be part of the training too. It’s up to you in the end.
MMORPGs are more or less anonymous. You can always create a new character, try out something different, explore the darker parts of yourself as a sith apprientice or try to find out what it feels like to be a balanced good hearted Jedi Knight. A word od warning though: keep personal details to yourself until you trust someone – if it doesn’t feel right don’t open up. Learning how to keep yourself save is one of the top skills to learn out there.
For me it helps to dive into a fantasy world which is only in my head. I tried LARP a few times, where I jumped around on a battlefield as an undead soldier, but the fantasy only went as far as I saw another player. It helps to be able to focus what’s on the screen and in your head and nothing else. When I have people in front of me, I’m overwhelmed with reading their faces and bodies, listening to what they say and processing what I hear while looking like I understood what they said and answering at the same time, scared that I say something inappropriate or stupid.
There’s a whole pickup community out there that focuses on how to get laid. I definitely prefer the boring evening with just talking to one or two persons who don’t expect anything of me.
Other skills that might be learnable through roleplay
How to handle power or abuse of power – Sith roleplay usually ends up in chaos, people hating on each other, characters die or get abused, but the thrill of danger can be fun for a while.
How to calm oneself or learn how to discuss – Jedi roleplay. Just because you’re one of the good ones doesn’t mean you have to be nice to everyone. Setting boundaries and defend them with diplomacy can surely have its benefits.
How to keep friendships going – sometimes you’re the only one who keeps up the connection. If you don’t have a job, make keeping connections your job.
Organizing information – Find out things about characters, organize them, sell them.
Writing – if your grammar skills are weak, writing oneliners every evening for a few months will change that.
I could go on and on about this, but I make myself quit at this point because I just procrastinate on leaving the house. Be well and take care!