Peter Pan

In his early twenties and before I knew him, my husband starting running around Kansas City with a group of three other guys, one his high school buddy who was kind of a nerdy jock, one an artistic free spirit with an awesome new wave haircut and the last one a cynic who liked to smoke A LOT. They got into mild amounts of trouble (although they got close to throwing a rave that would have landed them all in jail), but as time passed, Jeff started to slowly grow up, while the others seemed to be stuck in limbo.

I first met these guys three months into a long distance relationship that Jeff and I were embarking on, when I was visiting him in Kansas City. I had only known Jeff a short while and still couldn’t get over the tastelessness of some of his jokes, but I noticed even then, a difference between him and his friends. Jeff was working hard at building a career in programming, while still taking college classes. In contrast, all his friends wanted to do the whole weekend was drink beer and play video games. And the worst kind of video games – the violent ones, you know, where you kill hookers with a baseball bat. At the video game party that was also supposed to be a BBQ, I met the cynical one’s girlfriend, who was a sweet if quiet creature who liked to read a lot (a win in my book). She spent most of the party however, watching her boyfriend play video games.

Fast forward seven years, Jeff and I are married and have moved to Seattle. Upon our arrival, we reconnect with the cynical friend and the quiet reader who is now his wife. During one of our conversations, I learn that while they were dating, she had to get a character in a certain video game in order to spend time with her boyfriend. If she didn’t, she would never see him. This boggled my mind. Having a workaholic partner I understood, but having to acquire an imaginary character in order to spend time with the person that you consider your soul mate baffled me. Fast-forward another few years and the couple now has a baby, which as many of you know changes your life immensely. This was true in their case, except when it came to video games. The image of him holding the newborn whilst playing one of his favorites is still burned into my brain.

According to Science Daily, Peter Pan Syndrome “affects people who do not want or feel unable to grow up, people with the body of an adult but the mind of a child. They are unable to grow up and take on adult responsibilities, and even dress up and enjoy themselves as teenagers when they are over 30 years old.” In society today, especially in Westernized cultures, we see more and more young people who’s one goal in life is to stay young and carefree– whether it be through absurd fashion, juvenile behavior that continues over the age of 30 or moving back home to their parents basements so that they can play video games till three in the morning.

I am writing this piece, not to anger anyone, but instead to express a true concern that I have about modern society. We are already so disconnected from one another, feeling more comfortable texting than talking face to face, that this added layer of selfishness scares me, especially as the parent of a young son. So, if you care to listen, all I am asking is that you put the game down most nights of the week and try having a real conversation. Otherwise, the robots will take over.

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Kathryn Payne

Kathryn Payne

Kathryn is bored by your questions. She insists that you man up or woman up as nature suits and handle business. She further insists that you do this with all due sassiness and lace your speech with 30 Rock references whenever possible. Kathryn lives in Richland with her family and owns many scarves. No, you may not borrow them.

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  • Becca Lingley

    Well said.

  • Jergrif73

    This is definitely a phenomena that is more prevalent than it
    was twenty years ago. And at this point, more acceptable than it was twenty
    years ago. If a grown man’s favorite pastime was playing videos games twenty
    years ago, that would have been a red flag for most women. Today, it’s like a
    dull pink flag and thusly more acceptable. While Japan seems to be on the
    forefront of this movement, it is apparent that the rest of the western world
    is on right no their heels.

    Why is this? It is my belief that most men (or maybe a good
    portion of men) would just as soon stay boys. Most of them cannot do this,
    because the inner workings of society will not allow this however. Women want
    to be with men that communicate with them. If a man does not communicate, they are less desirable.

    But the issue is this:

    We are raising these boys to stay boys. We do not make them
    go outside. We do not make them fix their bikes (if they even have a bike). We
    fix it for them or pay someone to do it. We don’t allow them to scrape their
    knees, or step up when there is a bully (not that I think that bullying is alright
    at all, because I don’t). We buffer their bottoms so they don’t have to go
    through the hardships that we might have had to go through or for some, saw
    others go through.

    We can ask them to put the video games down all we want, but
    really, this message needs to heard at a way younger age than adulthood. I say this in the midst of raising a 17 year
    old boy that I am having this exact issue right now. My fear is that it is too
    late. My hope is that it is not.

  • Steve Meddaugh

    Love it!