I can’t in good conscience recommend you watch all of this video, the third and final part of a series by Technoblade. But there’s wisdom to be found here.
To the outside world, I’m an ordinary Minecraft YouTuber, but secretly I’ve spent the last year fighting to maintain my spot as the number one potato farmer in Skyblock. Opposing me is SquidKid, the former rank number one, a man whose obsession with potatoes is rivaled only by my own.
Like Amundsen’s expedition to reach the South Pole, this is best thought of as a race, with two men competing to reach 500 million potatoes farmed. As with many battles, even the winner lost:
why did i spend 600 hours on this war. this was a terrible idea.
Yes. It’s an objectively terrible idea to farm digital potatoes. But we can actually learn from Technoblade’s futile quest. Late in his video, he makes two salient observations:
It is only with a worthy rival we can reach our fullest potential.
Rank number one isn’t an achievement. It’s a prison which forces you to dedicate your life to defending a temporary title.
The truth is we’re all potato farmers to some degree. We chase meaningless status symbols. We optimize systems rather than questioning whether they should even exist. We villainize our competition and slink into ethical gray areas.
Technoblade wrote his own cautionary tale, an Aesop fable for the digital age. In the end, he wasted a lot of time, but at least he learned something from it.
I gained a lot from the Potato War: patience, discipline, carpal tunnel.
Farming 500 million digital potatoes is stupid, but registering 500,000 voters could swing an election. Exploiting a quirk in how minions behave is pointless, but convincing our cells to manufacture a target virus protein is a game-changer.
The difference ultimately isn’t in the amount of work, but the choice of the objective.
With this in mind, I’ve started asking this question about how I’m spending my time: Is this actually productive, or just potato farming?