Wonderful vent from grad-school buddy Susan this afternoon. I asked if I could share, and she consented.
Ahhh…. Internet, video games, cell phones that do everything but wipe your nose for you and a gazillion cable channels apparently aren’t enough.
Of course they’re bored. When you really get down to it, this whole artificial electronic world gets boring. The demands of video-world tends to reduce knowledge to the lowest common denominator. Don’t believe me? Look up any topic on the Internet using typical Googling (no fair cheating and acting like a librarian who actually digs out scholarly sources) and then compare it to a decent book on the topic. See a little difference in the depth? I’ve heard the Internet called the “worldwide puddle of knowledge,” and I tend to concur.
Electronic communities miss the fullest sense of “community” as well. In a real community, you will have to live with these people. You have to learn tact and honesty. On the Internet, I can pretend to be anyone I want. I will never meet you in real life, so I can spout off any sort of offensive nonsense while facing no more consequences than getting kicked off one of a million message boards. There is no touch, no work, no interdependence. Human emotion is reduced to a series of emoticons.
Am I a Luddite? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I think these new technologies are great when they enhance people’s lives. I use them constantly, promote them, you name it. The problem is when they don’t feed you. The video culture tends to be passive and banal. Ultimately, it’s unsatisfying on some internal level.
I’ve often thought teenagers need more challenge, not less — and more challenge in the physical, real world. Real challenge in terms of determining what work will bring them meaning in life and the responsibilities of earning your own way in the world. We no longer give them that, preferring to hover over them and protect their every step and let them experience life only through a screen. No wonder they’re bored.
Amen, Sister. I would add that I’m often concerned with the lack of imagination on the part of our children. We’re installing DVD players in our minivans so the kids won’t be bored. We’re plopping them in front of televisions that offer a zillion channels so they won’t be bored. We’re providing them with game players so they won’t be bored.
In assuaging all this boredom, however, we’re denying them access to imagination. Do kids go outside and pretend anymore?
First of all, the worst thing you could say to my mother on a summer day was, “I’m bored.” She would very definitely find something for you to do. Cleaning the garage was a favorite. You didn’t ask twice.
We would go outside and play and create games. There was a wooded lot next door that wasn’t built upon, and in The Woods was a fallen tree. That tree became a pirate ship, a space ship, all manner of fantastic things provided by our fertile imaginations. Pathways through The Woods became enchanted paths. Creatures became fierce, or magical, or bretheren. We would spend hours in The Woods.
Imaginations become fertile when exercised. I wonder what a kid today sees when they look at a fallen tree.