On the Max ride home today, I heard to late 40-50ish guys having a chat about the down fall of the current generation of kids. I was trying to read my book, but the conversation ranged from the casually uninformed, family first thoughts, to the down right ignorant. According to these gentlemen our society is in the shitter because of the decline of the nuclear family, kids think video games are real, and therefore the kids in Columbine thought that they could take 8 bullets and come back to life. I had to restrain myself from commenting on this bucket of ignorance.
First of all, the nuclear family is essentially a myth. we’ve had modified family structures for as long as there have been families. A ton of people I know have had parents that have divorced, one spouse cheating on the other, or some sort of death in the family. Almost all of these people have turned out reasonably well. Everyone has their problems, but I don’t think that it’s solely due to family structure problems. If anything, the family structure problems that these guys are talking about are related to problems more closely associated with inequality and the fact that these families have someone in prison, work 2 or 3 jobs to support their family. These folks have to work so much because they can’t afford rent and our economy is structured around the car, which most of these people are being priced out of.
Second of all, violence and confusion over video games and reality don’t really exist. According to a recent study, if people are aggressive during or after a game it’s NOT because of the violence or lack thereof, but because of a lack of skill or fairness in the game. Apparently, people are more aggressive if Tetris is more difficult than if it’s easier. I think that Candy Crush Saga is a perfect example of this. The most difficult levels are frustrating because it has nothing to do with your skill, solely if you get the right combination of candies to effect a board clearing combination. Even if you do everything perfectly, you can still lose – which keeps pulling you back in. Dark Souls is another case in point. The game is so frustratingly difficult that many people rage quit, but they keep coming back because of the sense of accomplishment upon completing these difficult monsters/bosses. Essentially, the reward of accomplishment and skill accrual is worth the frustration.
Finally, because of this clear separation between reality and game the boys in Columbine didn’t think they could take a ton of bullets. This is obvious due to the fact that they committed suicide with one bullet. The problem with those boys is the fact that we don’t really speak to each other well about our problems. Marilyn Manson had the best response to that back shortly after the horrific events happened.
The conversation between these two men really just struck me as two guys looking for someone to listen to them and parrot it back. Honestly thought, it really just reminded me of two stoners talking about things.