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I guess I just like liking things


This popped up in my Facebook news feed last week. Immediately you know who posted it, even though you don’t know her name: it was a mom. Moms are all about kids getting out there and fishing and all about kids not wasting their whole lives playing games indoors. Kids are supposed to be out jumping in mud puddles, falling off bikes, getting bitten by ticks, and getting pooped on by birds.

Let me say right off the bat that I like moms just fine. I have one and she’s pretty great! I understand that moms and dads gotta do what they can to make sure their kids are protected and grow up to be as non-jerky as possible. Furthermore, I also understand that if a kid only plays videogames, to the exclusion of everything else, that’s not the best thing.

But this little easily-shareable picture full of nonsense really got my goat. “Because memories aren’t made playing video games,” it says. The subtext is “only cool things like fishing give you memories you’ll cherish the rest of your life, and you’re wasting your life if you’re doing anything but cool things, where ‘cool things’ is defined as ‘things I place value on, regardless of whatever else things some other people might place value on’.” So. Much. Hogwash.

Please pardon the strong language, but I felt it was called for.

When I was younger (so much younger than today), we didn’t have Internet and I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV. Videogames were barely invented, much less in every third home. I mostly read books, to the point where when the person keeping an eye on my brother and I for the summer kicked us out of the house to “get some fresh air,” I’d take my books outside with me. My brother and I would occasionally go to stay at our grandma’s house for a week, and during that week she’d usually take us fishing. There are three things I remember about those trips:

  • I caught a crayfish or two
  • It was way more fun to sail boats made out of 2 x 4s down the creek
  • I didn’t much care for fishing

A friend in high school really liked fishing and constantly wanted me to go with him. I’d occasionally go hang out while he fished, but the constant irritation from swarming bugs and the unpleasant smells that seem to hang around the sorts of fishing places we had access to served to only further my resolve to not “go fishing” any more than I absolutely had to.

Outside is not my thing, I’m saying, and I’m saying that as a person who got pooped on by a Canadian goose once.

Fast forward to several years later (like, 20). Internet is big and I’ve made several friends on an online forum. We chat on the forum and in IMs, and with some, actually on the phone or in texts (once texting started to catch on). I got the chance to meet a few of them now and again, but they’re spread all over the world so meeting up isn’t the easiest thing. But, wait, World of Warcraft is a thing now. We would meet up in WoW and gallivant, slaying beasts and seeing the sights. On New Year’s Eve we met in the major cities to watch the in-game fireworks together. When one show was done, we’d travel to the next city to watch the show for the next timezone. We did that for a few hours until early the next morning.

I realize these examples are anecdotal, not at all scientific, but answering something in the same vein it’s delivered in seems to be the right way to go about it.

I enjoy bowling once in a while, and I’d even go golfing with you. I hope to never get in another canoe as long as I live, though, and I’ve got no interest in hiking, mountain-climbing, or in being eXtreme in any way. That’s who I am. At the same time, I can understand that there are people who like to do those things and I’m okay with that. Go do those things! But when you tell me you’re awesome for doing those things and I’m lame for doing the things I like, I’m going to do three things:

  • Understand you’re being kind of a jerk in that moment
  • Roll my eyes
  • Not care

Those New Year’s Eves I spent in World of Warcraft are some of my favorite memories of all time, and they’re one of a hundred other videogame-related memories I cherish. Here are a few more:

  • Rounding the corner in Tomb Raider and seeing the T-Rex come after me the first time. I audibly yelped.
  • Playing Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 for the first time at a friend’s house
  • Trading hints with friends (pre-Internet, remember?)
  • Learning about the Konami Code on Contra
  • Playing Donkey Kong on Intellivision with my pastor’s mom – I can still hear her Southern drawl asking, “Hey, Mark, let’s play Donkey Kong.”
  • Mapping out on graph paper the desert from King’s Quest V
  • Heading down to the gas station on the corner after school to play Tutankham and Karate Champ
  • Playing Shinobi so much at Shopko that I could finally beat it on one guy

And there are so many more.

So sure, mom, I understand you want your kid to be outside and fish and whatever. That’s your call: you’re the mom. But don’t post hogwash like this. Your kid’s liable to like something you don’t, and it might be something you think is weird or a waste of time. If your basis for what they should like is the stuff you like, and you belittle their desire to LARP, cosplay, or paint D&D figurines, you’re pretty much going to end up pushing them away, not get them to stop liking the things they like.




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