Gaming, Pornography, Social Networks: What Happens When the Artificial Life Trumps the Real Thing?

The Veneer Clause

How many of us opt for a quiet night, alone, in front of the computer, television or game console over an evening out on the town? Besides me? I’m a hermit at heart, an out going recluse. I’ll go to events and places, I’ll mingle with my fellow humans, but I’m perfectly comfortable within my fortress of solitude. So before accusing anyone, I confess I too gravitate toward reclusive habits.

Games contain comforting aspects absent in life. Games begin, end, and maintain concrete boundaries; all help us prioritize and plan. Whether it’s leveling up, a high score, or successful completion; we get to know whether we won or lost. And while victory within games offers a shorter pedestal to jump triumphantly atop, at least you know when you’re standing on one. The sting of defeat hurts less and the stakes at risk never put us out on the street, in jail, or an early grave. Games, especially RPG’s, allow us to enjoy an imaginary world where our choices and struggles matter on a larger scale. We imagine saving humanity, a village, or a friend. In the days of table-top RPG’s this still resulted in a conversation with others while computer and console gaming offers a solitary adventure that places us at the center of attention.

Pornography offers stimulus without risks real people bring. Whatever your tastes, someone caters. However awkward you are, no one walks home dejected by rejection. Disease and abuse do not exist. But the convenience of self-serve desires leaves a dark chasm where love belongs. And if, like me, as a young teen you experienced the theater of pornography first, you feel inadequate to the task when upon the stage of your own life’s play.

Social Networks redefine ‘Like’ and ‘Friend’. The range of long distance relationships expands outward but also encroaches inward. Friends in the same town are friends in name alone as we busy ourselves with our online life.

So, you’re probably imagining me some mad Luddite bashing my laptop with a hammer after this final post. Not so. These advances allow me to reach people beyond arm’s length, to share stories and collaborate on exciting projects. Mine is a cautionary rant, a nagging concern; will technology sneak up and supplant our own race as our closest friend and ally?

I sat on the front porch of a bookstore yesterday for a book signing. Folks asked me today how it went. My first response? “The weather was great.” But while I lamented my lackluster sales I also reflected on the myriad of conversations struck up with strangers. We shared opinions, laughs, and words of encouragement. So what am I saying? In order to remain a vibrant species, full of inspiration and zeal for progress, we must find a balance and never forget we’re surrounded by people all eager to win the game of life and equally unsure if we’re winning.

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