Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Cyber Generation


I must confess that I have a few of games on my smart phone. Okay, maybe a lot of games. I like variety in play. I have everything from match 'em and crash 'em (Bejeweled), board games (chess and backgammon), to pop 'em and slop 'em games (Marble Saga), to kill 'em all (Galaxian and Meteorite).

 

When I sit down at my computer, I also like to play games, online and on the computer. It alleviates the boredom of mass news media and comic strips.

 

Twenty years ago, when playing solitaire, I would play until the very end, letting the cards beat me over and over again. I would wait until I was completely stumped and then shuffle the cards and try again.

 

When I was a child, playing Monopoly, Scrabble, Checkers, and any other board game, we finished the game. If we lost, we bravely smiled and congratulated the winner and vowed our revenge in the next game.

 

Today, when a game isn't going the way I want it to go on my phone, or my computer, I close it. I "end task" on it.

 

The thing is that I am competing with the stats of the game. If I end the game before I lose, then it doesn't alter my stats. That's all that counts, right?

 

I remember watching my younger cousins play Super Mario Brothers. I would watch as one of them strived for unattainable goals like getting the coins from an un reachable spot, or getting an extra life with an incredible jump.

 

There is nothing more demeaning, in a electronic game, when you are going for that unattainable goal and you lose a life.

 

I would watch as they would close out of the game, even though they had plenty of lives left, and then they would start all over again. Going for the unattainable goals. Making the un-jumpable jumps.

 

I have thought about these things a lot recently, and my own obsession for beating these games. I have had 20 years of conditioning with the computer age, and now the smart phone and tablet age.

 

The computers have become the perfect opponent. With no human brain or fast reflexes, it can whoop us simply through its programming. So technically, there is no way to actually beat the game all the time, so we control the only thing we can: The Stats.

 

We close out before defeat. We undo the moves that no human competitor would ever let us do. We get our do-overs, when life has no do-overs.

 

We have had so many new parenting techniques emerge over the years: Don't spank your children, DO spank your children. Humiliate your children in public, DON'T humiliate your children in public. Control your children through firm discipline, let your children make their mistakes. Don't give your children too much praise, there is no such thing as too much praise when raising children.

 

Personally, I believe that parents need to be open to different personality types needing different raising techniques. But that's another thought in the distant future.

 

The reality is that maybe it's not the parents that have created this Entitlement Generation. Maybe the biggest lesson that ever needed to be taught has been a lesson that has been taken away from children... The Lesson of Losing.

 

In turn, losing this valuable lesson is not the fault of any parent, but the fault of allowing computers and smart phones to teach our children the right way to lose: Being a good sport, even when you just feel like bitch-slapping someone.  

 

So I made a resolution yesterday to let my smart phone win. I am going to continue playing solitaire even when it looks like a sure loss. I am going to ignore the stats. I never kept a win loss score on paper when I was playing cards by hand. I shuffled after my loss, and I tried again. And this is what I will do to recondition myself to the fact that life is full of losses.

 

And get over it...

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