Finished a very one-sided conversation with my almost 19 year old son just now. Classic interaction with a member of the so called "Entitled Generation". Not making enough money 'cause he's working at a Mom & Pop hardware store for minimum wage. Spends all his free time when not in college classes stuck somewhere in the internet, living virtually. It struck me as I was talking about the need to actually start living and deciding about what he was going to do (including finding another job, registering for next semeter's classes, etc) that the internet has become this generation's drug-of-choice. They've decided to "tune out" of life by living in a fantasy land of someone else's making.
Growing up in the 60's and 70's at the tail end of the Boomer Generation, illicit drugs and alcohol were our ways of tuning out. Big decisions which were quite anxiety provoking could be avoided by smoking some weed, drinking, popping some pills or a combination of some or all of the above. While scientists have delineated the hazards of these activities, we're just now starting to come to grips with the societal implications of this massive escape into virtuality. Colleges are teaching classes to their students on how to talk to each other. Few people walk or run without music blaring in their ears - ignoring everyone they pass. Communities suffer because there's no one left who is paying attention to them.
When asked what the real issue was, my son posited that he needed "willpower". He is addicted (dependent really) on the virtual world. It allows him to escape to a land that he can control and that he can regenerate when he makes a poor decision. Real life is certainly harsher than that - but it doesn't have to be. We can recreate a world that is engaging and supportive. We can overcome this new "drug" problem. It's going to take all of us and our collective willpower to break free from this habit. Do we have any willpower left - or is it too late? Time will tell, won't it.
Peace for the journey,