fog of war

The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently — like the effect of a fog or moonshine — gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance.

– Carl von Clausewitz

the “fog of war” concept is not new.  around 1830, von clausewitz wrote on the idea in his now famous book vom kriege, and it is still being taught at various military institutions and, i imagine, universities and colleges.  personally, i’ve interpreted this as the confusion and chaos we experience when we undergo very stressful events, be it a physical fight, a very heated argument, or pool matches (tournament or gambling).  in short, people’s ability to think logically and rationally is greatly reduced under moments of heavy pressure, be it grenades or $2000 on the line.

we’ve all sat on our couches and watched football, basketball, or any other broadcasted sporting event.  america being generally a country where sports are popular, i’m sure we’ve all commentated on our couches during the game.  the term “monday morning quarterback” will attest to the existence of armchair critics across the land.  here’s the thing though: when we critique from the comfortable couch, that is all we are.  we are spectators.  we are not participants.

in the world of internet and live streamed matches, it’s really easy to take potshots at the players from the comfort of our chairs or couches, since we have zero pressure watching it on the laptop, the ipad, or the smart phones.  we’re not down in the trenches fighting it out with another player, someone who’ll gladly bury you with three fouls or just flat out run you off the table.  it’s easy to say “well, that guy/girl should not have played that shot at that time”, or “i would’ve shot this better shot”.  unfortunately, that’s the problem.  you’re NOT down there playing.  you’re not experiencing that fog that can overtake you when you’re under pressure.  you are not there.  you’re here, sitting in the comfy chair, typing out inane comments and passing them off as actual wisdom.

when i watch pool on the internet, i typically ignore the comments because they offer no real substance.  same thing with blog entries or forum posts that criticize matches after the fact.  who can really know what the player was experiencing when he/she played a shot?  who could really say they know what that pressure felt like, unless they’ve been there?  what happened to common courtesy and basic politeness?  would you say the same things to that player’s face?

the fog of war, or the chaos under pressure, is a tough thing to overcome.  the only way is to repeatedly experience it yourself, figure out what that does to you mentally and physically, and try to conquer it in the future.  if you are successful, you will become better.  and hopefully talk less s~*.

4 comments on “fog of war

  1. I hear you, sometimes it’s better to mute the commentators. As you always say, you’re not in their shoes, so just keep quiet.

  2. No, you don’t sound cranky, but you sound annoyed. It’s a good reminder to your readers to “talk less s~”.

    • i guess i am a little annoyed. but more than that, i hope people realize that this hurts themselves more than others. no one reads my blog though so what i say won’t make any difference. 😦

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