- PS I love you -

17th March '17

Buying a PS4 was both the best and the worst thing that I've ever done.

Despite the fact that I maintain that the world would be a far better place without smartphones, and that I only got my first one three years ago, I tend to consider myself quite well-versed in the latest technology.

I have technology news on the front pages of both my Reddit app and BBC app. It's one of the more interesting topics to me.

Yet despite that, the last games console that I owned was a PS2, which was released in 2000.

I am, and always will be a cheap bastard, so it's fair to assume that I waited a couple of years before buying one. But even then it means that this is the first games console I've bought for fifteen years and...

Well they've kind of changed.

In a sense, it's this whole different arm of technology that I've been more or less oblivious to. And beyond games being aesthetically jaw-dropping, now online gaming is a snap.

I think it's a fair assumption that I've wasted a good thirty hours of my life playing Battlefield since I last wrote a blog, and almost all of that has been playing multiplayer with people around the world.

Not only is it as fun as it is frustrating because... well I'm not very good at it yet, and tend to die far more than I kill. But not only is it fun, but in a way it's enlightening to experience this technology that I've ignored for so long.

It's kind of like when I bought my first iPhone.

My PS4's not as expensive as people might lead you to believe either. The console itself was cheaper, and is far superior to my Apple TV. And sure, if you want to play the latest games as they're released, it'll cost you £40 per game.

As I've said before though, I am, and always will be a cheap bastard. And buying a PS4 three years after its initial release is great, because I can just go back and play the best games of a year or two ago.

Battlefield cost me about £20. And then I got another game (Bloodborne) for about £1 as part of a promotion to subscribe to PS+; the service that you need to play online.

But paying Thai prices for these, this new and enlightening technology really isn't even very expensive.

If these past couple of weeks are anything to go by, each game I buy won't cost me more than £20 and will last me for months.

The predictable downside to it though is that... well it's kind of addictive.

Thai? What Thai?

I've played so much that for the last few days, everytime I've looked in the mirror my eyes have been slightly bloodshot. Because it's not just the fact that you're sitting in front of a screen for hours, it's that you're staring at it intensely, unable to really look away.

I also lost some weight over the first few days after I bought the console, because I was playing instead of eating.

Instead of coming home from work and spending an hour cooking a proper meal, I was just... I'll have a piece of fruit so that I can play for an hour before bed.

Is it making me happier?

I don't know if this is the reason, but I've been feeling particularly irritable for the past couple of weeks, although that could also be blamed on a couple of other things.

I've now finished the 100km that I agreed to run this month with some colleagues. It took me until this morning to finish; far longer than I'd anticipated, although I still finished 40km ahead of anyone else. But this had been hanging-over me like a cloud.

Normally when I want to exercise, I'll run or swim or do bodyweight exercises or go to the gym in my condo or do yoga...

I like to do some exercise on most days, but this month it's been a case of anytime I feel like exercising... well I guess I'll go running then, because I've got this stupid 100km to complete.

And it's not been fun or relaxing running. Normally I just run until I feel like stopping. If that's 5km, then cool, if that's 20km, then cool. I just run how I feel. With the exception of this morning though, when I only had 5km more to go, I've run a minimum of 10km everytime I've run this month. And it's been as warm as 36°C.

Forcing yourself around and around the park in those temperatures, only hours before going to work no less, it's...

I'm a pretty fit guy, it's not especially challenging. My body can take it. But it's not exactly fun either. So I'm not sure how having this 100km to run was affecting my mood.

The girl who started at my school at the same time as me has moved to teaching in the mornings this term as well. That's something that, under the previous manager, wasn't possible, because he reserved the preferred morning teaching slots for the teachers with the longest tenure.

The new manager seems to adopt a fairer stance, where it looks like he's going to rotate these shifts among the teachers that want them, regardless of how long they've been here.

When I first started in this job, I did request the mornings because... well who doesn't want to have finished work by 12:30pm everyday? I stopped requesting them though, because I just got so used to working in the evenings, and there was a 99% chance that I'd never get the morning shift anyway. And at least I could be sure of my work-time this way.

So I've only seen this girl on weekends, and we tend to view the world somewhat similarly. She doesn't really socialise with other teachers outside of work either. And she tends to shun social media, and live a life of longevity. And when I saw her on the first weekend this term, I asked her "So how're the morning shifts going?"

"It's so nice not to be around one or two people who think that everyone wants to know everything about their lives," she responded.

Back when I first started this job, and was far more stressed-out than I am nowadays, it used to drive me up the wall that we do have one or two teachers, who talk about themselves, very loudly, all the time.

Sometimes standing at opposite sides of the teacher's room, they'll have conversations that everyone else can't help but hear.

It used to annoy the fuck out of me, but I guess that over time, I just became numb to it.

And don't get me wrong, I know that I don't work in a library; I'm not asking there to be silence. But you can sit next to someone and talk to them, or you can stand on the opposite side of the room and shout to them, just to make sure that everyone else in the room hears exactly what you're talking about and... we have a couple of people like that.

Apparently in the mornings, everyone just keeps to themselves, and this girl was commenting on how nice it was to be able to come into work and not have to hear every detail of certain people's lives.

As soon as she said that to me, being stuck in the teacher's room started irritating me again, like it did when I first started this job. And I'm not sure if it was because she pointed-out something that I'd just become numb to, or if I was more irritable because I'd spent so much time staring at screens, or focussing on running.

But to describe my life to you for the past two weeks, I need say but three words: Working, running, PS4ing. That's literally been it.

I haven't become so addicted to gaming that I've let my teaching standards slip. As I mentioned in the last blog, this is by far the easiest term that I've had since starting here in terms of how much work I have to do.

Nothing to plan from scratch, and I'm not starting work until 6:45pm on Monday to Thursday.

I can work this much, and still afford to live in my hi-so apartment and eat good food.

Most other teachers work significantly more, do private tutoring on the side, and always complain that they don't have any money.

I don't get that. What are they buying?

I guess alcohol.

For me it's a great term in that regard. The school might be hugely struggling for student numbers, and I hope that they improve. To make the best of a bad situation though, I love it that I'm afforded this much free time. Time that I can use to learn Thai.

Only joking, it's all been used to play Battlefield.

That's kind of why buying this console is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. There hasn't been even a second since I wrote the last blog, where I thought 'I know, I'm going to sit-down and study Thai now.'

Hasn't even entered my mind.

So that's where I'm regretting getting a PS4. I'm regretting it because it's even better than I thought that it would be. And that's not a good thing for my ambition.

I'm kind of at the point of... ok, I'm clearly addicted to this thing. So what I've got to do, is just play it so much that I need to take a dettox for a few days, during which I'll sneak-in some good habits again.

I'm literally trying to play it so much that I hate it.

Why can't learning Thai be this addictive? I'd be fluent by now if it was.

Now that I've got this 100km behind me though, and can start having more variety of exercise in my life, I assume that things will start to return more to normal. Maybe I will eventually find the motivation to study Thai again.

Of course, all of this is only possible thanks to my schedule, and who knows what next term holds. Come the other side of this weekend though, I'll be halfway through this term. And my isn't it flying by?

It's followed by Thai New Year, which means that I get a two-week break and... well as is typical, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Songkran is great if you want to get drunk and join the party. Which I'm not completely opposed to doing, although I am apprehensive about drinking again.

I haven't had a drink in more than two years, and I don't miss the hangovers, the ill-health, or the expense.

If you don't want to join the party though, it's a fucking pain because for about five days, you can't walk to the shops without someone throwing a bucket of water at you, so in theory it's a great time to get out of the country. But to where?

Cambodia and Laos are the obvious choices, but they both celebrate Songkran in some form too.

Vietnam, China and Myanmar are a pain for visas. Singapore and Hong Kong are expensive, Indonesia and the Philippines are bloody miles away, fuck Malaysia...

A part of me wants to get out of the country just to avoid Songkran, but I'm struggling to find anywhere that I actually want to go.

In which case I might end up doing what I did last year, and essentially hibernating for a few days until it's over.

Just stock-up on food and stay in my room with my PS4, going down to the fitness facility in my building for when I need to move.

It seems kind of a waste of a perfectly good holiday, but I won't be able to travel anywhere in Thailand without someone throwing water at me.

I guess that we're technically still in a period of mourning, so that could make it less rambunctious this year.

Anyway, I don't know why I even bother to mention the upcoming holidays in these blogs, because I have an inability to plan anything sooner than last-minute anyway.

As of this morning, I have no more km that I have to run, so maybe I can use that time to meditate or do yoga; things to clear my head.

On the one hand I love my PS4. It is a technological marvel. But on the other... well what do I always say? What are the two most imporant things in the world? Health and happiness.

Have I been happier since I bought a PS4?

Nope, I've been stressed-out and irritable, but I'm not sure if that's the reason. Depending on how my mood changes over the next couple of weeks, I guess I'll find-out.