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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