(Lil Bit) – The year 2020 – we all know the current state of the world and the countries we live in, it is quite impossible to ignore the tensions, lockdowns and various levels of calamity surrounding us. What does one do to keep sane when so many things we as humans turn to for distraction and comfort have been taken away? For a large portion of the population – we still can’t go to the movies, to eat inside restaurants, to sporting events in person and most importantly: to visit those we hold dear. Before we dive much deeper into this article, we first completely acknowledge that what we are discussing here are largely non-essential activities and certainly not life ending problems to have. However, they can, and often do, affect one’s mental health and personal stability.
(Geekfather) – As dedicated hardcore geeks, Lil’ Bit and I have had many of the things that fuel our nerdery taken from us. No in-person comic conventions, no new geek movies in theaters, our main TV shows being shutdown and our ability to see each other and just give hugs is gone for now. So what are we doing to hold on to that last shred of sanity until this passes? Read on and you’ll see 3 things that we’ve been doing these past months to keep our geek muscles strong and lives at least a bit normal.
Finding new (and old) shows and movies. I watch an insane amount of movies and television. As a disabled geek, they are my window to the outside world and a lot less depressing than the news. I’ve discovered such gems as Netflix’s Away, CW’s Stargirl, and NBC’s Transplant. I would have likely never watched HBO MAX’s Doom Patrol or the new Ridley Scott series Raised By Wolves. This shutdown has also given me a renewed appreciation for old movies and shows that I hadn’t watched in ages. An entire rewatch of Stargate SG-1 and Syfy’s 12 Monkeys are in the books already!
Gaming and streaming. With the lack of new TV and film releases, I’ve found that there are large chunks of my day freed up. What did I do to fill that emptiness? Video games, baby! Not just playing them for my enjoyment but streaming them on Twitch and Facebook for others. I know I am struggling with the world and I assume others are too. I figured if playing helps lessen my anxiety and stress then sharing my bumbling gameplay with my sometimes funny and often serious commentary about my life with others could help navigate 2020 and its constant stressors. I’ve gotten deep into games such as Marvel’s Avengers, Wasteland 3, XCom 2: War of the Chosen, The Last of Us II, and even some older classics like Spiderman and God of War. Who doesn’t love Kratos?! I identified as a gamer from the moment I first turned on my Atari 2600 at 7 years old. It is in my blood as my dad was a gaming nerd as well. I feel at home in that world.
Rediscovering my creative side. When the world was normal, before 2020 sapped all of our souls to their limits, I let a lot of my creative energy go to waste. While still co-hosting The Blurred Nerds Podcast, I did let a lot of other projects fall into neglect. The Pixl Gods gaming podcast, The Geekvengers fan page, and all of our related social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. With our ability to connect physically taken for now, I focused on connecting with people virtually. Producing podcasts and co-managing a fledgling multimedia empire (HAHA) with Lil Bit is challenging, but hella fun. People need this more than ever. Geek voices and personalities to guide you through this darkness and back into the light. That’s how I feel about it anyway.
Home Manicures & Nail Art – Long time listeners of The Blurred Nerds Podcast know that I adore a particular YouTuber named Simply Nailogical who just happened to launch her own nail polish company called Holo Taco. I watched her videos for years and bought her polish, but never really attempted to learn any techniques or do my manicures until the shutdown hit. So, with time on my hands I started playing & pausing her videos. Then I stumbled upon another YT channel from Kelli Marissa. Between these 2 talented ladies’ videos – I learned a tremendous amount and kept practicing. Then some friends turned me onto nail stamping (metal plates with artwork & designs you paint polish on and then transfer to your nails with a stamper). I kid you not, I now do my nails at least twice a week. Manicures, base colors, geeky stamp art on top and glittery Holo Tacos for extra flair. When I’m anxious, stressed or just need to tune everything out for an hour or so – taking care of my nails and playing around with miniature art has become my moment of zen.
Animal Crossing New Horizons – I wasn’t in a rush to buy this game. I had dabbled a bit with the mobile version Pocket Camp, but it didn’t really stick with me. Cut to 1 week after ACNH’s March release and one of my dear friends couldn’t believe I had not yet purchased it (and she wanted me to play the game with her). So she surprised me by gifting me a copy. Here we are, 6 months later and I still play this game EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. That same friend set up a group with 5 other ladies we had never met to help tend to each other’s islands. Not only did we spend HOURS watering each other’s flowers, cataloguing items, helping one another to achieve certain milestones – but we also have developed a close friendship though we haven’t met in person. We chat daily, we cheer each other up & offer support when needed, we show off new things we learn about the game and we give ourselves a break from what is happening in our own lives and the world. I never realized how much a video game could become such a lifeline to my mental health.
Discord – Last fall I need a break from social media. Every time I tried to go back to Facebook or Twitter, everything that hurt me or stressed me out about those platforms came rushing back. The pandemic certainly didn’t help, it only made the negative sides of these networks even more glaringly in your face. I wanted to stay connected to a sense of community, so I needed to find a different source for it: enter Discord. Discord is a bit like Slack and the internet message boards of old. For me, how it differs from other social platforms, is that I can join and participate in channels narrowed to my interests. For example, I am in channels for Animal Crossing, Epbot, Tentacle Kitty and most recently, Dragon Con. I’m able to take part in real time discussions about virtual convention panels, watch memes and watch fandoms organically take off at a whims notice and chat with new friends whenever I need a break from IRL. BTW, The Geekvengers have their own dedicated Discord server. You can find Geekfather at discord.gg/gGtcSB. He’s @Geekfather9130. Lil Bit is much more private with hers and that’s up to her if she shares it.
These are just a few of the coping mechanisms we’ve used to insert a bit more levity in our daily lives during these uncertain times. What are some things you have learned or discovered that have helped spark a bit of joy in yours? Let us know in the comments! Please join us for our next episode of the Blurred Nerds Podcast and don’t forget your pillow!