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Winners, losers, and choosers, let’s play a game

andrik langfield games Winners Losers Choosers

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word “games“?

If you’re a parent, probably your kid’s current favorite game. If you play sports, images from the last time you practiced may have come to mind, and if you’re a gamer, your current favorite game.

Generally, I’d say most of us think of play, Hide and Seek, sports, laughter, toys, kids. Or rapper Pusha T’s song The Games We Play or this very specific video of parrots playing basketball.

I wanted to talk about games. Specifically, I wanted to explore the definition of games, how we react when we think a game is inescapable, and how our perception of a game can change the game and its outcome entirely.

Let’s start with Instagram. As of January 2020, there are ~1 billion monthly active users on Instagram. This platform has become the main source of income for a lot of online creators. Companies doing Instagram right⁠—which usually means hiring employees or working with agencies or consultants and rarely means the founder is as social media savvy as they think they are⁠—also sell a lot of their products/services through the platform.

If you’re active on Instagram, you’re prompted to play a game.

Rachel Reichenbach, the founder of Rainy Lune, a successful frog art small business (no dream is too weird!) published an Instagram exposé of sorts on her blog. Instagram had reached out to her asking to schedule a call with them “so a media expert from the Instagram Partnerships team could give her advice on how to could grow her account.”

Here’s what Instagram “secretly” recommends to creators:

  • 3 feed posts per week
  • 8-10 stories per week, preferably 2+ per day
  • 4-7 reels per week
  • 1-3 IGTV a week

This is too much, and just in case you’re not on Instagram and have no idea what a “reel” is, they’re short videos under 30 seconds, which Lillian Sesiguzel, social media and video producer at Grazia UK, recommends setting aside eight hours for, to film, refilm, edit, etc.

8 hours per one reel, 4-7 reels, you do the math.

“Instagram guru” Brock Johnson recently recommended a 30 day Reels challenge to grow your account.

Now, if you’re not a creator on Instagram you may be thinking: who cares? Just post when you feel like it, you’ll be fine.

Which is true, and is exactly my point. So if you said that, thank you for giving me this segway.

However, a lot of small business owners and artists who follow Instagram specialists who *rightfully* recommend posting frequently and “making Instagram happy” with Reels might feel anxious about not being able to keep up.

Because we think it’s a game we have to play. In many ways, it is. But in many other ways, we can opt out whenever we want. If there’s one thing social media is great at, is pushing us out of our comfort zone. I’ve seen many posts like “Reels tips for introverts” and “how to go Live on Instagram when you’re shy” and while I’m the first to cheer for people going out of their comfort zone, I think often of why we’ve taken it at face value that this is a game we must play to be successful online.

Should an introvert push themselves to figure out what works best for them socially and professionally? Absolutely.

Should an introvert chase the next Instagram trend that makes them uncomfortable and feel like they’re pretending to be someone they’re not just because the algorithm will punish them if they don’t? Hell no.

We throw the phrase “mental health” around, but when it comes to things that are harmful to our mental health but good for business, it’s all how to overcome this and how to overcome that.

Should I overcome main aspects of my personality so more people see more of my articles on Instagram? I mean, I fell a bit for this myself when everyone was saying “Reels! Post Reels! I grew my account by 50X with Reels. Hundreds of people asked about my services after finding my Reels.” and I was like, damn, I guess I should hop on the train too then.

As Christopher Lasch said, “Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.”

In one of the funniest interview clips I’ve ever seen that I included below for your enjoyment too, Kanye West says: “Look at Gaga, she’s the creative director of Polaroid. I like some of the Gaga songs — what the fuck does she know about cameras?”

I imagine Kanye saying that about me: “I like some of Delfina’s articles — what the fuck does she know about videos?”

I’m a writer, FFS. Why did I feel the need to hop on the train? Funny enough, I posted a Reel with this sound. Full circle, right?

Let’s continue.

What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head? 

If you follow me on Instagram or if you recently checked my What I’m doing Now page, you know I’ve been watching the show Suits.

harvey specter a gun to your head quote explained games Winners Losers Choosers
This is the main character Harvey Specter

Here’s a conversation between the two main characters that stuck with me:

“Harvey: What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head?

Mike: What are you talking about? You do what they say or they shoot you.

Harvey: Wrong. You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a hundred and forty six other things.”

146 other things. Damn, right? Let’s continue.

I spent a quarter of the last day of 2020 reading Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design and answering the questions on there.

You may have noticed that I try to link back to the author’s page or the book’s Goodreads, I really, really try to avoid linking back to Amazon because… reasons.

The link above redirects to Goodreads and the reviews are pretty spot on I’d say. Also, as a spoiler-hater, I loved this function:

goodreads contains spoiler ux text games Winners Losers Choosers

I’m not on Goodreads, but I do have an online list of the books I’ve read and what I thought of them. About this specific book, I said “I found one of the chapters amazing, I knew most of the points in the book, but I still enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to people that want impactful careers. 7/10.”

The chapter “Playing the Game: Winners, Losers, and Choosers” was so eye-opening that it was extremely hard to include just a snippet or two. So I didn’t. I believe the author has done a great job explaining and since I’m not a fan of reinventing the wheel, below you’ll find many paragraphs from the chapter.

I would highly recommend not reading these in a rush and actually going over them a second time, I know I did.

  1. Society has a game going. Like it or not, you were recruited into this game.
  2. Who would strive to win a prize everyone has? Societies arrange their games to give the appearance that things have to be a certain way—the way they are.
  3. When you observe people playing a destructive game, you have a number of options: You can try to oppose them. You can start another game and try to get them interested in playing. You can remind them of the infinite game possibilities and the fact that they are always the choosers, and that in this sense, there are no winners and losers.
  4. Playing begins with contemplating the game. Our word contemplation comes from the Latin contemplari, “to see things as they really are.” See the game for what it really is and you are free to play. Recognize that the trick of the game is to seduce, manipulate, or intimidate you into feeling inferior and/or into attempting to gain that which you believe will give you a sense of superiority. When you honor all people for their humanity and don’t see anyone as essentially better, worse, or different from yourself, you can no longer be tricked. You no longer need submit to projections of inferiority or try to achieve an enviable position so you can lord it over others.
  5. You see your happiness in expressing what you are, not in gaining approval or avoiding its loss. Otherwise, we can be triggered, through prizes and ridicule, into performing like trained monkeys—without ever knowing how or why.
  6. If you realize that it’s a game AND CHOOSE TO BE AWAKE, you can be in the world and not of it, with or without titles or ridicule. You can play “winning” or “changing the social game” without getting serious, without losing your playfulness. The truth is, we always have a choice.
  7. Working on purpose allows you to approach the game with a spirit of play. You don’t get overwhelmed by fighting the system or trying to escape from it. You choose a game you can work with and stay focused on purpose. You don’t spend your emotional energy in minor (or major) skirmishes over trifles. You don’t isolate yourself on the sidelines. You choose a humane game and play.
  8. In many career fields, you will be judged on your ability to play the game at least as much as on your work performance. Taking it seriously means taking yourself as a role. If you stand back and look, you can easily see how silly this is. When you are concentrating on purpose, you needn’t exaggerate the importance of your role. You can enjoy the game. While playing, you can be smiling on the inside.

A while back, I was talking to a friend and we’ve worked for the same company in the past. They said that they’d left the company with bitter feelings and resentment. I had an entirely different experience. They’d achieved great things there, but they were focusing on the shitty aspects, forgetting what it all is. A game. “If you stand back and look, you can easily see how silly this is. You can enjoy the game. While playing, you can be smiling on the inside.”

The author, Laurence Boldt, also wrote:

“In 1989, the dictator of Rumania called out the army to quash an uprising of the people. Instead, the army chose to side with the people, and the dictator was executed. The dictator’s power, or lack of it, was based on what individuals in the army chose to do. This illustrates a basic point: A person’s power within society depends upon the deference that others choose to give to their title. The all-powerful king or dictator is virtually powerless after the revolution.”

These paragraphs were so enjoyable to me that they felt like a long hug, like a swim in the ocean, like a beautiful song. I really hope you felt them as deeply as I did and I hope this article got you thinking about how much fun it could all be if you let it.

As Lily Tomlin said: “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat.” CHOOSE TO BE AWAKE. Choose your own game. Play it well. Enjoy it. It’s all up to you.

2 thoughts on “Winners, losers, and choosers, let’s play a game”

  1. Ah yes! I use the term “Playing the game” lots. Professional sports teams are always asked by the media what is the “game plan”? Part of the game plan is usually not revealing the game plan to your opponent for obvious reasons. Because it’s all about winning. In the “game of life” we individually have an abundance of choices before us every minute. And if we chose to be awake we will always make the right choice. Thus, winning the game of our life.

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