Thursday, December 28, 2017

excessive gaming disorder...

Excessive gaming disorder has recently been named by the World Health Organization as a mental health condition. It is a disease that many children and adults have been suffering from for years and it was thought to be normal and OK or even desirable that children and adult sequester themselves relentlessly and for extended periods from real life.

I am reminded of an article in Time Magazine in which one of their editors told about buying his daughter (2 years old) her first laptop computer. He said that "as an avid gamer" he was anxious to get his daughter in on the play.

But then as a second thought, he decided to consult a child development expert. He nicknamed her "Susie Joykiller." She told him of the stupidity of his plan and of the well documented detrimental effects of early exposure to digital technologies. When the writer mentioned the wonderful hand-eye coordination he expected his daughter to receive, the child development expert mentioned scissors.

While Susie's warnings made the author somewhat concerned about his plan, (and in the text he was honest about it) the article as laid out by editors featured a cute picture of his daughter with her laptop, and a guide to games that parents can buy for very young children, thus giving the impression that it was a wonderful thing to buy such things for your child.

So it is with technology and tobacco. The warnings signs are buried so as not to interfere with sales.

In the meantime, and despite millions of years or our species making beautiful and useful things, there are no mental health concerns about making. Useful beauty is the bedrock of civilization. In fact, playing music, involvement in athletics, making things in the wood shop, gardening, cooking, and all the normal things children did before the invention of all the digital stuff, are all good for your mental health.

This brings me to René Descartes and his first big mistake. In his first meditation he said:
"So it seems reasonable to conclude that physics, astronomy, medicine, and all other sciences dealing with things that have complex structures are doubtful; while arithmetic, geometry and other studies of the simplest and most general things – whether they really exist in nature or not – contain something certain and indubitable. For whether I am awake or asleep, two plus three makes five, and a square has only four sides. It seems impossible to suspect that such obvious truths might be false."
Sorry, René, the complexity of something (like the real world, for example) may mean that you do not understand it, or that you may be incapable of understanding it, but it does not mean it is not real. Human beings have a tendency to over-complicate things, and achieving simplicity is a worthy goal. But the denial of the reality of that which you do not understand is a frightful and self-deceptive launch of your meditations.

My meditation for today... "If Descartes had a woodshop would we still be in the same mess we are in today?"

I'm working to close the books and start with a new year, so I'm spending too much time at my desk. On my brief redemptive forays into my shop I've been working on boxes. To exercise my mind and limbs in doing something tangible and tactile in a warm shop on a winter day is like a vacation to a sunny beach, even though I've done it a thousand times before. The photo shows before and after of the initial sanding and routing operations.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully thoughtful writing!

    Also wondering what the world might look like if Descarte had stated -
    I Feel therefore I am
    Or Love therefore...
    Make, Play, Learn...
    Is it possible to do any of these things except in community?

    Having been a designer/maker of digital games (a lifetime ago it seems!) now a teacher/maker with the hands I can see both sides. As usual it comes down to appropriate technology - too many sledgehammers cracking nuts - and right timing... Too often (but by no means always) under the guise of 'ease' or 'simplicity' which then moves inevitably toward a blanket conformity, our digital whizzbangery replaces intuitive human care, imagination & connection.

    Grateful for your voice Doug, very best wishes for the season.