“I’ve played that game 900 hours.”
I was stunned when a young man behind the counter of an electronics store said this. Another clerk had gone to check on a product for me, so I was staring at what I thought was a book as I waited. The excited fellow told me it was a great new video game. He seemed oblivious to what he admitted. The time he had spent in fantasyland was the equivalent of almost six months of working a full-time job!
Is it any wonder people act like they do? Our age of instant and constant entertainment has them living in a world of make-believe. They fill their minds with so much fiction that they have trouble functioning in the real world.
Actual people don’t respond like characters in an electronic game. Girls in real life don’t always smile and do whatever a boy wants. But young men grow up expecting young ladies to respond like an online video. When a young woman in real life demands respect and communication, they get frustrated because they are used to seeing females as objects or servants.
I attended a political event which honored a soldier who had served heroically in the Middle East. He had shown great courage, but I was disappointed in his demeanor. He laughed about killing the enemy and said it was “fun.” He was very crude in his language even though there were little children in front of him. I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between the way that he carried himself and the dignified way the World War II veterans in the crowd handled themselves. I don’t know if he had grown up with a lot of video games, but his immature attitude about life and death sounded like it was just a game to him.
There are consequences to our behavior in real life. You can yell at a screen and call fictional characters names, but this doesn’t work with actual people. You can pretend that you are in control, but the real world is not that easy to manage. In the digital universe you can live like a king or an adventurer, but meanwhile here on earth somebody has to work and pay the bills. If you lose a game you can log out and play again later, but if you make a bad call in life you’ll have to live with it. The cold hard facts are always there.
What we put into our minds affects the way we think and how we think determines how we act. Solomon said, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). An occasional retreat into our imagination is human, but we must be careful not to stay there too long.