Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Deprogramming the Boy

I'm not one to admit defeat easily, especially when it comes to being a father. But something happened yesterday that might just be a sign of the futility of fighting the shift in paradigms.

I was playing a video game, as I am sometimes wont to do, and my twelve-year-old son was watching. I was complaining that Xbox wanted me to "log in" to "Xbox Live" in order to play. We installed this because my son wants to play games online with his friends.

It's what they do, you know? I want to straddle the line between making my kids independent thinkers and making them complete outcasts, socially. So, he has some decent friends and they want to play Minecraft together, online. No biggie.

But, "Why," I asked out loud, "do I need to log on to play a game if I am not playing it online!"

"So, just log in," my son said, munching on a Nutella-dipped pretzel stick. "What's the big deal?"

"The 'big deal' is," I said, "that I don't want people to know that I am playing a video game right now. I don't want people in my business. And I don't want to get 'party' requests from your sixth grade friends while I play because they think I am you."

(Turns out, I think, that I could play offline. I guess. I don't know. But I was already 33% into the game before I...kind of...realized this. But that's not the point.)

"So they know you are playing... They think it is me anyway. Just ignore them," he said. "Who cares?"

"I care."


"Because I do. And so should you."

"You're weird."

"I know. And if I play my cards right, you will be, too."

"I already am."

"I know."

"Wait -- what were we talking about?"

"The fact that I don't want people to watch my every move online."

"Oh. Right. Yeah -- I just don't see the big deal."

"Go to your room."


"No. I guess."

I went on to make a case for personal privacy; the horrors of living in an Orwellian world; the need for occasional isolation from people and for not being "connected" all of the time.

He shrugged. "Still don't see what the big deal is."

Of course he doesn't. "Connection" is what the world calls "normal" now. Maybe I should just give up on this.

Wait -- you know what? Nah. Changed my mind. No way. (You didn't really think I was going to cave in, do you?)

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