Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Your flightsimming stuff isn't going anywhere

Please note: if this sounds at all preachy, please be aware that I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else. Also, at Flightsim.com, Chip Barber's most recent installment"The Corner" deals with some similar themes, albeit in a lighthearted manner. I wrote this before seeing his column.

Remember: Your flightsimming stuff isn't going anywhere!

Many of us are fairly obsessed with flying, and flight simulation in particular. We squeeze in a flying session whenever we get a chance, and when we can't we read the forums, or read flying books, or study sectional charts. I know I am not alone on this, as I read many of the flightsim forums. It's not a bad hobby to be obsessed with. It is relatively inexpensive, safe, and doesn't require you to spend a lot of time away from home (physically, that is). On the positive side, besides learning about airplanes and how to use the program, we are also learning about more general subjects like geography, weather, physics, and maybe even a little history. Not the least benefit is relaxation it provides, or the aesthetic pleasure derived from a well-rendered scene.

Still, it can become a serious preoccupation, and let’s be honest: we’ve probably all shortchanged a few worthy activities due to the time and attention we’ve given to simming. It is worthwhile to examine the time and attention we give to this hobby. How much is too much? In the worst case, we could find ourselves so wrapped up in this that it affects our personal relationships and harms our health due to sedentary behavior and/or lack of sleep.

For me, one sign of an unhealthy obsession is 'download-itis' and 'chronic tweaking disease', subjects I have discussed before. Now these activities are part of the fun of flight simming, and in fact some tweaking is necessary to get the most out of the game. But this kind of behavior can bring us dangerously close to that of the compulsive gambler, who thrives on the rush that each new attempt brings, all the while squandering his capital. Much of the time, after the initial excitement, we find that the result is less than we hoped for, and we walk away unsatisfied. Then the search is on for the next great solution, but this is really just our next fix. In other words, this is the obsession feeding on itself.

But even if our obsession falls far short of the pathological, it is good to remind ourselves that there are other things to do. Regardless of where we think our involvement with simming falls on the hobby/addiction spectrum, we can keep it all in perspective with the simple thought that the flight simulator will be happy to wait for us if we spend time on something else. Can the same be said for the activities that we have neglected?

So why not get out and enjoy the spring weather, tend the garden, go for a walk or a run? Reconnect with a neglected hobby, or read a good book. Play a board game with the kids. We don't have to devote every scrap of free time to checking out the latest and greatest hope for the flight simulator.

Remember: your flightsimming stuff isn't going anywhere!

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