I’m going to go ahead and start with a cliche: there was a time, young ones, where computers did not have many distractions built in and pc gaming to most people meant your computer had Solitaire at the least. There were a few other card games, some types of board games like Mahjong, and more arcade ones like the Space Cadet Pinball. One of the best known ones was Minesweeper. I was mostly a player of card or pinball, I would get so annoyed with Minesweeper. The purpose being to avoid the mines I almost always ended up hitting one pretty fast. But once I learned how to play it,and realized it took patience and not randomness, I managed to get a bit further. And this aspect is what came to my mind a few days ago.
For anyone who doesn’t know it, the game consisted of a grid that varies in size depending on levels. At the top of the grid there is a smiley face in the center, a counter on the left, and a timer on the right. When you click the squares in the grid you get one of two effects: either you will get a number in the square or you will find a mine, thus exploding all the ones in the grid. If you get the number you have a chance to spot mines. It tells you how many squares near by have mines. This is where patience comes in. You have to mark the mines to avoid exploding them, basically a guessing game with only the number to guide you. You win the game by flagging all the mines and not tripping them.
All these aspects came to mind recently when I realized that the patience and care you need while playing Minesweeper can train you for life. For a lot of people, the everyday means walking around a grid that is full of mines they can’t find. Sometimes they click, they will talk to someone or find a safe place or something similar, and it will give them an idea of mines close buy. Maybe you are talking about, say, politics with someone and you will see the numbers pop up. If you are mindful then you can avoid hitting a metaphorical mine. And this is just one example of how it applies.
little red flags of mindfulness
Mindfulness is something that gets a bad rep in todays world. Usually associated with “PC” friendly, it’s seen as a negative and we are supposed to see it as a form of censorship even. But mindfulness is something that many groups in society have been cultivating for a very long time. Those who navigate a world where they are victims of many of societies prejudices you keep a close eye on those numbered squares. As said above, every conversation becomes a grid. It happens with family, friends, everyone. You check yourself and hope you wont say or do the wrong thing that will set off these mines.
The thing is, it’s not just those on that side of the conversation that can benefit from this training in mindfulness. A lot of times, people who are not affected by this don’t consider that someone could be hearing mines go off. Many times, privilege helps people ignore the mines. To them, people don’t have numbers that say how many mines are around them. Many of them are playing the game by randomly clicking. They ave gotten lucky and in their grid they haven’t hit a mine so the believe they don’t need to pay attention to the numbers. The mines seem to be nonexistent, but in reality they still have them. To those who have to be more mindful, they have just probably found more numbers, more things they have to be careful about.
Minesweeping your way through life
Let’s be clear, many of those who are careful to not explode the mines you have around you are not doing it for you. Not really. They do it for their safety. Mines are bombs after all, exploding one can result in serious consequences. And in many cases when the mine of a privileged person blows it doesn’t hurt them, just the one who was more vulnerable from the start. It’s not so much about your comfort as it is their safety. Every number to them is a new aspect of themselves they have to keep quiet and hidden.
Because it’s not just about talking, many moderate their actions, mannerisms, and even what kind of tastes in media or pop culture and such they let come out. This is where being mindful works for those with privilege. Imagine this game as one with multiple players, instead of just single. While clicking randomly may work for you, in someone else’s grid you just set off more alerts. It might have even set out their mines and they have to restart their game. The game is no longer just about you. So keep in mind they are being mindful, return the favor.
I guess what I want to say with this is that the main lesson from Minesweeper would be to be more mindful. We live in a world where a lot of people think a lot of the prejudice’s of the past are gone. But to the people who actually deal with these prejudices can tell you very differently. The struggle is, indeed, very real.
If you want to train your patience a bit, you can play Minesweeper online here!