Dear Straight Talk: This generation is not just born and bred on the Internet, but on an insatiable diet of violence in movies, video games and rap. The other thing uniquely part of their world are mass shootings. If these shootings were terrorist attacks, everyone would be rallying against the terrorists, but instead, everyone watches in horrorstruck fascination, with no rallies against the makers of the violence. Is media violence too addicting and does this generation enjoy it too much for that? Are mass shootings the price of a culture steeped in gore? — Curious Reader, Fairfield, Calif.
Editor's Note: Boys classically got their warrior experience through hunting, farming, scouting, providing, protecting, animal husbandry, sports, handling business deals, even driving and fixing cars. And I did say boys. Pre-adolescent boys, as soon as they were able, accompanied their fathers in the fields, to market, on hunting trips, and had many solo adventures. By the time they were adolescents, ready to launch into manhood, they had the preparatory skills and experience for a rite of passage. Most of these preparatory experiences are no longer available. The average child has spent 5000-6000 hours in front of a screen by age six (with about 16 "violent" events per half hour). Many prefer not going outside. Half have no live-in father figure. Sports in public schools are for a select few. Scouting is hardly mainstream. Even the driver’s license is being delayed — or kids aren’t driving at all. For many boys, their boy-to-manhood journey has been co-opted by addiction to violent video games, action films, and rap music.
The media industry tapped into their journey (for enormous profits) and everyone drank the Kool-Aid. They own your sons.
I maintain that if boys, as growing boys, are NOT given or allowed these games, movies and rap music (the first genre of music with violence as a theme), by their parents or parent, more adaptive and satisfying modern-day boy-to-manhood pathways will emerge. Instead, our children's brains are literally being broken down in ways previously thought impossible. Parent’s brains were/are, too, to a lesser degree. We know now, that each generation passes it's environmental and lifestyle sins to its children. I predict an explosion of neurological problems and disorders over the next generation or two. You can't put something this massively maladaptive in and not get something massively maladaptive out.
Just like with food, where we need to return to an ideal human diet, so does our mental intake need to return to ideal. We would never pen animals in front of this kind of stimulation and expect them to remain healthy over a few generations. Any 4-H'er could tell you that. This is the last thing the media industry wants you to hear. Please see our column The Male Crisis for more insight on this important topic. —Lauren
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