Dr. Helen

Are men opting out of life for video games or are video games their life?

I wondered about this question as I read an article (thanks Terry) entitled “Why men are opting out of life and escaping into digital media”:

University of Notre Dame anthropologist Michael Jindra first noticed it in the late 1990s that more and more, his students, particularly the young men, seemed less invested in their studies.

“It’s hard to describe. It just seemed like their heads were someplace else,” Jindra said. “More than in the past.”

Jindra talked to some of his struggling students and found various reasons for their academic performance, but one thing stood out: all-night video game marathons.

A theory took root that Jindra’s been studying ever since — a cultural shift is under way, a kind of escapism where a growing number of young people, especially men, are becoming more invested in recreational pursuits to “escape” their traditional social behaviors, like being fathers or career-driven providers….

The report outlined economic reasons for the decline, like fewer jobs. But in a telling detail, the report found that unemployed men spent almost twice as much time on leisure activities and more than twice as much time watching television. It’s no coincidence, Jindra thinks, that this trend has intensified with the rampant growth and prevalence of digital media and entertainment.

There is little for young men these days that is positive in the larger culture. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal once so astutely pointed out: “But there’s a reason they’re attracted to that particular pursuit. Video games are a simulacrum of masculine virtue: challenge, mastery, control.”

In a culture where these virtues are frowned upon, it’s no wonder men are more drawn to video games than to a classroom, career, or relationship where, to perform well, one must appear docile or subservient to women and the state. People these days hate strong-willed men, hence the hatred of Trump. There are few who can take the heat of hatred, so video games and other pursuits can be a substitute life, at least for a while.

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