I kept a journal where I wrote every day until May thirty-first, and the next page after that is July twenty-seventh. Somewhere in then I lost my mind. When I think about it, I get a numb feeling in my jaw and a little panicked, as if I forgot my own name or how to eat. For a second, I think I could die. Because I’d be unable to express anything about a thing I don’t know that I don’t know. And I need to eat. And to know who I am.
Which is Eli Berlumby, if anyone asks.
The second month was supposed to be for in-person interviews, and the third was for putting it all together. I’m not sure where the money went. I don’t feel like finding the budget, but there was one. Things were budgeted for food and rent and also production costs to make something. A book maybe. I don’t really know where it went, but the point is that I was given money to support the making of something charitable and important, and I fucked it up. Or Minecraft fucked it up. I don’t know. Either way, there is a story in it.
My university funded me for the research of a local black community in the hope of resolving a stigma against it. These were summer fellowships which were planned over the three months of the summer semester. I cannot remember when I started watching Minecraft LPs (Let’s Plays), but if I’m being honest, it’s hard to conceive a time when I didn’t know of them.
If I had to estimate my average watching time a day, I’d guess four hours the first month and then ten hours for the other two. That would be 720 hours or one thirty-day-month of watching Minecraft. Given that these are estimates, the number must be higher, since sleep deprivation was almost a constant, and there are suggested fluctuations in the first month from four that would make sense when elevating it to the ten hour average. Assuming an extra hour each week and then a handful of premonitory binges (four ten-hour days, one taken from each week), the numbers may present something closer to the truth: 772 hours. However this is just the time from three months, and the total hours of Minecraft LP consumed, before and after this period, aren’t considered, and so it should be noted that similar consumption averages persist surrounding case parameters.
I lived in a cycle:
A. I live in an apartment on stilts by the train tracks. At noon the train passes, and the house shakes. The train whistles. This is how I wake up everyday.
B. Adjust thermostat. Neurotic about money, this happens all day, and the average temperature of the room is about seventy-eight.
C. You’re dehydrated from sleeping in an oven. Cramps from not eating yet. You’d rather stay in bed, so you do.
D. You can’t sleep because it’s hot, but you don’t want to get up because it’s hot. You open your laptop. You ignore work. You watch Minecraft.
E. Liz, your girlfriend, texts,”Are things any better today?” You tell her how guilty you feel, but you have a plan for the week. You haven’t seen her in months. You stay in bed.
F. Find Minecraft playlist that has over twenty-four hours of footage and press play. You will not need to press anything else for the day, because Youtube continues to the next video for you.
G. Lay in front of screen watching Minecraft. Don’t do or think anything.
H(1). You know you wasted most of the day because, about an hour before sunset, a guy, who lives in your complex, practices in the driveway in front of your place. He is a baton twirler who is practicing a routine to the song Sax Man. You’ve heard this song echoing against the parking lot for months, and wonder if you’ll ever learn to like it. Liz likes the Sax Man.
H(2). You watch Minecraft LPs. You feel like something is wrong today. You can’t remember if you’ve already heard Sax Man today, or if you’re just remembering yesterday.
I(1). Fueled by the instigation of the Sax Man, you get up and eat. Maybe even do work.
I(2). Fueled by Sax Man’s instigation you actually get up, but then get back to staring at your seventh hour of Minecraft.
J. It’s getting dark, so the apartment begins to cool. You’re a little refreshed. You watch Minecraft LPs.
K. Liz texts you. She misses you. You masturbate or sext or both, and get sleepy again afterwards. You stay in bed and watch Minecraft. You begin to start a masturbation marathon with the sounds of the LP in the background. You have been doing this for so long every night, you have a small fear that you might associate the voices of The Mindcrack Server with your own sexual excitement.
L. You are sweaty and dehydrated again. You decide to check the mail (even on Sunday). It is the first time you’re outside today, and you wonder if you’re depressed. You’re someone who thinks getting depressed is as easy to miss as all the time that you waste from noon til’ Sax Man every day. You realize you are two hours in to yet another Minecraft video and decide it is time to stop.
M. It is midnight. The train comes back and shakes the apartment and whistles. You and Liz think the relationship is bound to crash, and you call it the burning train. Once, when she visited, you revealed to her that you still had feelings for an ex, and she cried, and the train passed by, rocking your apartment and your bed, as you tried to comfort the girl wrapped in the sounds of your personal omen.
N. Liz says Goodnight. Your first kiss was in a far away place. You go to school in separate states for separate reasons. It’s your third relationship where you use Skype in the majority of your sex life. It became a better service, so there are no more voiceless orgasms or blurry pink rectangles taking their shirt off for you. You know the government could be watching, but it’s hard to think about this when you can finally see the young woman from the other side.
O(1). You usually sleep by three AM. But it’s not unusual to go to sleep later. You go to sleep.
O(2). You usually sleep by three AM. Tonight you watch Minecraft LPs. There is a faint light coming from the blinds. It’s seven AM. You go to sleep.
O(3) You usually sleep by three AM. Tonight you watch Minecraft LPs. There is a faint light coming from the blinds. It’s seven AM. You step out the door. Your eyes hurt. You walk down the street and watch the sun rise.
P. For strongest effect repeat A through O for at least ninety days.
From my limited understanding there isn’t a scientific definition of mind washing. But I warmed up the old Google here, and it looks like Internet Addiction Disorder might come into play. If you’re surprised that this is a real thing, so am I. Though not yet recognized in the DSM, IAD is building support and research along with specialized clinics and tests for the disorder. The condition is thought to be a larger symptom of people with anxiety and depression. Much like formal addiction, an internet binge gives one a high and going without gives one a kind of withdraw, and so the lows feed the highs and the cycle continues.
It is only this week that I am going to see a neurologist. That summer I got the first migraine in my life. I laughed when it happened. It was so unbelievably painful. My teeth were numb. I couldn’t stand. I had to make coffee with all the lights off. I have had head aches for over a year now. I still watch Minecraft, though not ten hours a day. Liz worries I have a brain tumor. That’s how people find out about brain tumors. They get a ton of head aches and then finally see a doctor. I don’t know what I’m doing any more, really.
I still feel guilty about never finishing the project. About blowing all that money on wasting my life. I mean, I haven’t even played Minecraft. Why the fuck did it even have to be Minecraft? Could it have been cat videos?
It’s been hard to think.