The amazingly long amount of time that has passed since my last blog post and this one has been such a blur. It really hasn't felt as long as it's been. I feel like there have been a million things going on and that there's so much that has happened.... But then I also feel like nothing really is going on at all. Except feeding my pet. And cleaning up banana peels and rotting apples from my house. And buying furniture. But then I realize that it hasn't really been me doing all of those things but my alter-ego in my latest time-stealing activity: Petville. Yes, I said it. Petville. On Facebook. Chunks of time taken out of my day. A hole in which I fall into just trying to get to the next level, completely losing all track of time and sense of reality as I make my way through others' houses cleaning up after them and collecting coins and lost toys to put up for adoption.
I've come to the stark realization that it has become quite a problem for me. And the fact that I have thought crazy things such as "I can't put this glassware on the bottom shelf of my pantry because the kids will get it" is quite disturbing. Because I'm talking about my pantry shelf in Petville. There are no children there. Only a fabulously dressed purple animal who runs around in her black mules or jungle boots, cleaning other people's houses and pets, all for coins that she can use to buy stuff with. Her latest goal is to get enough Petville Cash to buy the Unicorn Balcony from the new Premiere Showroom. Is this my latest goal? At this point I'm not even sure! There often seems to be a very fine line between what goes on in Petville and my own reality. And yes, this bothers me. But to a far greater extent than just that I'm a bit of a wacko.
All joking aside, if I often have a slight distortion of reality when it comes to Petville and my own, I have to wonder how difficult it is for children who get lost in video games for hours upon hours. Virtual worlds colliding with their own inexperienced and impressionable minds, creating a catalyst that will not only blur or skew their view of reality, but might possibly completely obliterate it altogether.My friend and I were talking about this very thing the other night. My mom had sent me an email with the names of several video games which go beyond the blowing-up-killing-running-over-with-cars horror, straight to the source for such play: SATAN. Yes, people, that's right. The amazing world of video gaming has raised the excitement bar for gamers, lowering their morals all the way to hell, pulling them in with each flick of the controller. Satan worshiping, selling your soul, killing unbaptized babies; that's just where it starts. Having not had the misfortune to ever play any of these games, I'm not exactly sure how far it goes. But if you think about it, the surface is already too far. The gipper is it's been going on for years. But what's it all for? To desensitize our kids so that nothing bothers them? Is that what we're really aiming for nowadays?
Who makes this crap and who is packaging it up and tying it with a pretty red bow, hand-feeding it to the media as something of a great idea for our children? Better yet, who is keeping these SOB's in business by buying this crap for their kids and allowing them to play it? Even Playstation's famed Guitar Hero is in on it! "Guitar Hero(Playstation) – Players use guitars decorated with pentagrams. God is repeatedly mocked by the devil and in the end, the devil is the hero of the game. Women dressed as Catholic school girls are degraded. (Rated “T” for teen)" That is a quote taken from this article, where you can read a whole list of other disgusting games being marketed toward our children as 'fun', 'exciting' and 'the next big thing'... blah blah blah.
I am just appalled. And saddened. And scared. People think that our children are not phased by this stuff; that they know the difference between right and wrong and that playing "harmless" video games won't skew their perceptions of reality in any way at all. What? Anyone with half a brain can look at the day to day life of their child and see that everything they experience, everything they witness, everything that has any sort of sensory affect does play a vital role in how they act, what they think and who they are. It doesn't take a psychologist to recognize the nature of a human being. Especially a child. Children are like sponges; they soak up everything that goes on around them, especially if it immediately affects them in even the smallest ways. I imagine it takes a very grounded child to not be sucked into all the hype of video games and the excitement they provide as one chills out with friends and forgets their hard day at school.
But where are these grounded children? I haven't seen any lately. Everywhere I look, kids are sitting around with iPod's in their ears and their eyes are glued to a hand-held video game or laptop. And I have to ask myself, what happened to good old fashioned hop scotch? Okay, maybe not hopscotch. But seriously, people [kids], where are your parents? Do they know you've been out selling your soul to the devil and killing infants in the street? Do they even suspect that you could be the one who blew up the building downtown?
This survey by Harris Interactive from 2007 shows that the average child 8-12 plays a staggering 13 hours of video games per week. Thirteen! I'm sorry, did I already ask you where your parents are? Facebook alone has Petville, Farmville and any other -ville you can think of! And in reality, the buck doesn't really stop at video/computer games. The harsh reality is that all types of media, from television to video games to the Internet, have lowered the standards for the range of content they portray; and that my friends is what we are losing the battle to. This article also from two years ago shows the statistics that should feed the concern of any momma. I know they concern this one! It also shows numbers which, in my opinion, are way too high for us to ignore. That was two whole years ago, and with the explosion of new video games and even the shows on television with their questionable content in the past year alone, I'm sure the numbers have largely increased since.
My thoughts drift back to my pet in Petville. This afternoon when I got on Facebook to check my messages and see what's going on (appeasing the nosiness I can't help but feel as soon as I sign on which makes me sit and read every last one of the recent updates in the Live Feed), I wandered over to Petville to check on my pet. I got a message saying my pet, lovingly named Dibbles, had wandered off and was caught by the Petville Pound, and I had to pay a fee of 1186 coins and make sure I fed and bathed her. "Of course I will," I shout at the computer screen. Anything for you, Dibbles!
Anything for you!
Thank God that before I could continue on the routine of visiting my Petville neighbors and cleaning their houses, I had to go feed the baby. (I do have a real baby who needs feeding, I swear!) I am aware of this humongous flaw in my personality, which tends to lean on the addictive side these days. Am I to pass this on to my children? Is it a learned behavior? Is it something I can teach them now to avoid later? For now, I'm just trying not to visit Petville so much and not let it take up so much of my time - precious time in which I could be doing so many other productive things that have value in this reality. Maybe I'll get back on in a day or so to feed Dibbles and clean her house. Until then, if you have a pet on Petville, maybe you can be my neighbor! Then again, maybe not.