~ At coffee recently a late 30ish mother joined the table my friend and I were sharing,
“I overheard you two talking about video games and it really hit home. I feel like I’m at my wit’s end. My 18 year old son is addicted to video games. He does nothing but play video games. I can’t get him interested in anything else. I’m really worried” she said
It’s fascinating to me how so many different things in life have become “addictions” in recent years. It’s not enough to drink a glass of wine with your dinner or to play video games once a week or so….instead people in the Western World seem to lean toward extremes.
While some people have told me video games are actually a social activity (because online players can connect with each other over the game) I can’t help but think that playing video games with people is hardly the same as being outside on a bicycle or face to face with a friend at coffee.
Why does so much technology in Western Culture seem to disconnect humans rather than bring us together in face to face community?
We are social creatures. We thrive when we are able to experience face to face connectivity with each other, and there are plenty of studies that point out the psychological dangers that can occur when someone is too far removed from community and social interaction.
My recently released book deals with the issue of technology and community. A few years ago I was having a series of conversations with a friend about the way community seemed to be disappearing and how technology was replacing it was something far worse.
Social networks like Facebook tell us they exist to connect humans together in a positive manner, but I have serious misgivings about that premise. After all, when you see all the gossip on Facebook, and when you see study after study come out that talks about the realization that Facebook is really about creating an image (generally a false image) about oneself, a picture forms that is rather frightening.
Social networks are not evil, yet when people make the main bulk of their community based in the Internet and video game world, psychological problems can occur.
In my novel, I sought to communicate some of the problems that might take place as technology continues to progress without little thought being given to the progress that is being made.
As Neil Postman said, “Scientists don’t ask ‘should we do this?’, they generally only ask ‘can we do this?’”
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg perpetrated numerous acts of evil against his former partners and the co-creators of Facebook, how many users to the site asked the question, “Because Mark Zuckerberg is an immoral guy, should we really be using his website?”
There are plenty of other social networks and there are plenty of other ways we can connect in real face to face community, and until we start asking ourselves “what is the best way to live”, I fear we will continue on this trajectory toward technological addiction, and it may not end well.
If you have a young adult who is glued to their phone or video games, I highly recommend picking up a copy of my novel for them, perhaps it will help them view technology with a different perspective.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society