Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Put down the controller and back away slowly...

By Rich Bordner

Sunday night, I had a true blue C.S Lewis moment*. I was watching history in the making; Michael Phelps was about to win his 8th gold medal at Beijing. No one has done that in the history of the cosmos. It was one of those moments that people will bring up 30 years from now: "where were you when Michael won his 8th?" No last name needed. Michael will suffice. Everyone will know who that is.

And yet, there was a friend of mine...with headphones snugly on his ears, as he played a video game on his computer...that he had been playing for the last 4-5 hours.

I snagged his attention and insisted he watch the event. He complied, then promptly went back to his video game, missing another historic moment; Jamaica's Usain Bolt becoming the first human being to run under 9.70 seconds in the 100m dash in track and field. What's more, he did it while practically jogging the last 20 meters. It is truly scary to imagine what his time would have been had he not eased up in the race.

Are you kiddin' me? These were two of many moments of this Olympics that have brought goosebumps, but my friend was tinkering away on a STINKIN' VIDEO GAME!!

This insanity only served to increase my disgust for video games. Yeah, allright, a little is ok. 20 minutes a day, tops...and that's pushing it. But past that, what possible good can video games bring? While you are puttin' away on World of Warcraft, you are missing out on soooo much drama, so much good stuff, so much...well...life!

There are a lot of things out there that diminish your soul's capacity to take part in and enjoy other, more substantial things. For example, pornography diminishes the soul's capacity to love one's spouse. Watching too much TV can diminish the mind's stamina when it comes to reading. When you haven't eaten for a week, a juicy steak can throw your digestive system into a tailspin.

I have to wonder if video games, played even in small amounts, are in that category. I think last night gave me my answer.

"But Rich, maybe he just isn't into sports."
Bullfeathers. You don't even have to be a sports fan to see my point. Even if you've never watched a sporting event in your life, what transpired last night is still mind-bogglingly impressive, not to mention the fact that those events will be remembered for centuries to come. Plus, its not like we're talking pro football or baseball. Its THE OLYMPICS, the ONLY time where you will see so many different nations and peoples come together peaceably and celebrate our humanity. So much blood, sweat, and tears go into even one Olympic berth that someone with zero interest in sports should be able to appreciate it.

"But video games are fun and help people relax."
So...there are sooo many other things out there that are more fun and relax you more...like watching history being made with a few good friends. What's more, many (though not all) of these other things actually enrich you...they strengthen your social skills, your relationship with God, your mind, and your body. What do video games enrich, your thumbs?

Put down the Xbox controller. Get out of your mom's basement and take part in the drama of life. Pick up a book. Talk to someone. Get out. Go on a run. Go dancing. Get a date. Pray. ANYTHING but the Wii.

*...Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
C.S Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"

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