It's better when you play the game while listening to this and you'll occasionally (if you play long enough or start playing at about halfway into the podcast or a little after) start seeing things sync up with the podcast a few times seeing what they're talking about as they're talking about it. It makes the experience even more enjoyable.
Simple yet interesting. I was suprised you could go on so long about a topic on a podcast, that's impressive. I've thought about this throughout my life, and I've come up with theories as to why friends fallout online. It's most likely simpler than we think, even though it's a number of variables.
Think of it like Algebra. Think of X being an unknown value, but you piece things together by their personality as an algorithm, an equation. That's what this game made me think about. Piecing together those reasons, those theories, hypothesis, coming to an answer. However, this is also the thought process of worry, anxiety, insecurity, as well.
Anxiety makes your mind go all over the place with random memories, thoughts of what people said to you, worrying, going back to those thoughts over and over, sometimes going all the way back to the beginning, thinking "what went wrong?" you know? This is imo a good representation of that anxiety and self-doubt, thinking maybe you did something wrong, or just worrying in general about someone. It's like a visual aid to the thought process, piecing things together, or things that may not even be true.
This is a mixture of your own thoughts, and what friends say online, your opinions, your conflicting thoughts. I've dealt with this throughout my life a lot, so I relate with this, and I believe a lot of people do too, like you said, it's relatable. I agree with that. It's that insecurity i've struggled with throughout my life that lead me to getting therapy this year and why I've not been myself sometimes. Sorry about that.
I believe the variables, most of the time, when it comes to friends silently falling out online, most of the time, it can be simplified to the following things:
1. Your bond wasn't that strong, you just casually hung out, but didn't get too deep. Some people just see online friends as "friends", they're there but they're not someone you see every day in-person, there's still that barrier.
2. A lot of people use the internet, like games and social websites (like Newgrounds) as an outlet to express themselves and interact with people like them, it's kind of like light therapy but also can be an enabler sometimes. It's coping, to feel better, or distract themselves from the pain.
So, when people get therapy in real life, or just overall feel better about themselves, they don't feel a need to revisit those games, those friends. They want to keep it in their mind that they left their friends on good terms. It's hard to say goodbye, so they don't want to be left with that negative memory, but left them behind as good memories. Especially with socially awkward people like me, it's hard to say goodbye sometimes.
3. Their Depression or overall mental health got so bad, they find no joy in gaming or online social interaction anymore, or struggled with a disability that makes it harder to because it got worse. I've done that too. I've been in those dark places before. People wonder where you are, you don't know what to say, sometimes people don't know how to reach out and ask for help from those groups.
4. This one and 2 are probably the most common (1 is common for younger folks), but overall that hidden variable that suddenly made it hard for them to make time to come online because they got busy with life. Most of the time, it's work. Sometimes, marriage, but some are married, so sometimes it's kids. Some can make time even with that though.
But, they could have been hospitalized, situations changed, stress, a number of unknown factors. But, something that tied up their time that's out of their control, or they need more money so they have to work harder, is what it is more times than naught.
I hope this answers anyone's questions wondering about that stuff. I've had a lot of experience with that throughout my life so I can relate. It sucks sometimes, but I've had a lot of great online friends back in the day, like 2004 I played a lot with 3 guys on Halo 2 when Xbox Live first came out, around that time, I was like 12. We played a couple or so years together, but then kinda fell out silently. Things happen.
But it's great that we can remember the good times with them. On rarer occassions, kinda like the game represents, sometimes it's either because those groups of friends are toxic (well, if you play Call of Duty it's often) and they bully you, so you feel more insecure and don't want to play online anymore, or you come back and they pressure you into answering where you've been and say "not cool man" and you feel bad, so sometimes it's hard to come back due to the anxiety of being judged.
5 and 6 I guess? But it's interesting the way you put this out there. Good stuff guys. If you do something like this again, you should have a musician on board incorporate lyrics and have some interactive experience where as you walk, the music plays, and certain sung words stand out with the meaning, like an interactive music video. Would be hella cool. Good job my dudes.