How Football Manager can make you a social misfit

Anyone who’s ever done what’s euphemistically called “working at home” will recognise the subtle but gradual entropy of their days.

First off, it’s all up-at-7am, breezy efficiency and happy, thoughtful connections with clients; phone calls are the order of the day as concepts are discussed with colleagues. Come 5pm, and it’s knocking-off time – possibly to meet in a bar with the people you’ve been remotely linked with all day.

Gradually, however, 7am becomes 8; 8 becomes 9am and soon you’ve knocked off all morning to go for a walk cause the day’s just too nice to waste, and anyway I can catch up later – after all, deadlines are deadlines so it matters little if you work from 7am to 4pm or, indeed, midday to 10pm as long as the work’s done and in on time.

This is, from one point of view anyway, a bad road to go down, because the slide is somewhat insidious. Yes, freelancing might well assist you in balancing your life (and often does). But that also rather depends on you deciding to have a life in the first place. Which turns out sometimes to be a lot more hassle than some of the alternatives.

In Weekender’s experience, at least, before you know it you’re struggling up at midday, unshaven, unwashed, chomping down on leftover kebabs from the previous night’s binge, smoking and grouching in front of daytime TV in your pants. Hours, days, weeks can go by in this fug of magnificent nothingness before the urge to work – or at least, the necessity of paying the rent – takes over. And so we spring into action, fully intending to re-engage with the world of work.

Intractable ennui

The road to hell being paved with good intentions, we crack our knuckles and sit down by the ol’ desktop PC, ready to rock. We turn the phone to silent – even to mates – and get ready to open up that pesky doc. But first, we figure, let’s lift the fog by distracting our brain into action with some interactive gaming for a while.

Which means, essentially, finding ourselves somehow smoking silently in front of Football Manager until 5am, red-eyed and exhausted but determined to hang in there until we beat Peterborough United in the Zenith Data Systems Cup, second round first leg. But it’s such a close game that we just have to play a few more minutes until the second leg gives us a resolution, by which time it’s 7am the next day and reluctantly time to respond to all the e-mails you missed in the interim, to an internal soundtrack of shame and ennui as an intractable sense of defeat, disgust and all-round worthlessness lurks in the background the whole time.

Needless to say that somewhere down the highway of half-truth some kind of very blurred line has truly been crossed.

What we’re saying here is that University at Buffalo and Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s study that prolonged alone time – or loneliness, if you prefer – feeds on itself and leads to depression, is one of the most obvious bits of science of late. But the actual technical side of this phenomenon is quite interesting, too: it’s due to myelin production, which is crucial for social interaction. The more time you spend on your own, the less you produce and the more likely you are to not just lock yourself away but to actually become ill, too. Luckily, according to the scientists, more social interaction can bring the myelin back to normal.

Which is probably bad for your Lincoln City side on FM2013, but you can’t have everything now can you?

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