Unreal Reality

I was listening to the radio this morning while going about my chores and heard a rebroadcast of an interview with Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift. Basically he is concerned about the rising number of unmotivated and underachieving boys. I know this is something that we have been hearing for a few years now, our boys are in trouble, but what really got to me was a comment about success in video games being more important to these boys than success in real life. This scares me.

It really irks me when someone says “sigh” instead of actually sighing or says “LOL” instead of actually laughing. The emoticon vocabulary is a poor approximation of the depth and nuance that make human interactions so special. Leave the emoticons online! Similarly, World of Warcraft should be a fun diversion, not an obsession that becomes a substitute for real life achievement. If you see the moon outside and comment with surprise that it looks a lot like the moon in WoW, you need to spend more time away from the computer.

I know these games can be great fun. Before James’ birth, my husband, my sister, my sister’s husband, and I had our own guild in WoW. I miss being able to play with them, but I’m not willing to pay for a subscription that I don’t have time to use much any more. Real life and spending time with my wonderful son take precedence over an enjoyable but ultimately meaningless experience.

There are so many areas where a drive to succeed is needed, why waste it on the virtual world? I know that in real life it takes a lot longer to make a difference, and there there are fewer accolades for those who do make a difference, but the potential reward is so much greater. Reducing poverty, slowing climate change, dealing with peak oil, resolving your-favorite-international-conflict: all of these require involvement not apathy. It is easier to be cool online, but a friendship with someone who knows and cares about the true you is much more satisfying. I believe the popularity of Brad Paisley’s song “Online” is proof that he hit a nerve for quite a few people.

I plan on reading Dr. Sax’s book, and I am sure I will have more to say when I do. For now, let’s just be careful that our virtual fun is not at the cost of things that truly matter.

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