May is upon us. Spring is finally here, after a long, hard winter no doubt caused by “global warming.” Oh, excuse me; that should be “global climate change,” because record-breaking snowy winters and the term “warming” are inconveniently incongruous. My apologies; I get distracted easily after the jacket goes back in the closet and I can drive around with the windows down.
Another sign of spring, the first robin of the doom-and-gloom summer media season (including insipid “tips to beat the heat” and exhortations not to leave our pets and old people to die unattended in overheated vehicles and dwellings), is reports of the terrible job market college graduates face.
Stories about the terrible job market are always fashionable and, truth be told, I remember my own college professors telling me how much easier it was for them to get jobs when they left school. I would, they told me, face a much tougher time of it, and almost two decades ago, I certainly did. I used to marvel at the stories my parents told of having multiple job offers to consider at graduation. When my own job search during senior year resulted in wallpapering my dorm room with rejection letters, I returned, depressed and annoyed, back home.
I spent the months I lived at home working as much as possible and planning to leave as quickly as I was able. It never occurred to me to stay; my parents had conditioned me to understand, from an early age, that a young man went to school, learned to do something that would pay him well, got a job and began his own life. To find myself back home after four years of relative freedom was galling. Much worse, however, was the sense of failure. Temporary though it might have been, I felt I had failed at life.
Seventeen years later, more and more graduates are moving back home – and staying. There are entire websites devoted to the topic of adult children living at home. According to the most eponymous of these, “nearly 25 million adult children are living with their parents in the U.S. alone. A recent Canadian census showed that, of kids aged 20 to 29, 44 percent live with their parents. …” Another Canadian study indicates, at least according to the website, that “couples who had kids back under their roof suffered through 10 percent more arguments than couples living in an empty nest.”
Bad as that sounds, it might be worse. Focus on the Family claimed, back in 2004, that the number was more like a staggering 80 million:
The latest census figures indicate that more than 80 million so-called “empty nesters” now find themselves with at least one grown child living at home. Some pundits refer to these adult children as the “boomerang” generation. Whatever you label them, they’re returning home in record numbers. Some come back hoping to save money for school. Others return so they can take time to search for the perfect job. Still others may have personal problems; they need a refuge.
The term applied to grown children returning to the nest is “boomerang kids.” These “kids” aren’t children at all; they are men and women who, while there are exceptions born of mitigating circumstances, generally refuse to grow up. And what do they do once they’re back home, with no job, no responsibilities and nothing to do? They collect government assistance in record numbers, play video games and neglect everything else around them.
Video games played by adults are a particularly troubling warning sign that a grown man is instead an overgrown child. In the worst cases, the need to escape reality by playing games is described as an “addiction.” Leslie Bohl Jones, reporting for WOAI, recounts increasing levels of this “video game addiction” in grown-ups. One wife described how her husband used to play video games for 20 hours straight, ignoring her and neglecting his job. He was fired; she filed for divorce. Jones cites several disturbing stories involving parents who neglected their families to play such games:
Janet’s story is all too familiar to Ryan Van Cleave, author of the video game addiction book “Unplugged.” He says more and more adults are becoming consumed by the games, and the consequences can be grave.
“They’re killing careers, they’re killing families, they’re killing relationships, they’re killing health,” explained Ryan. “And, literally, now we’re having people killing others and themselves over video games.”
How bad can it get? Police removed six children from the home of a mother in Pennsylvania after finding them living in filth and animal waste. The kids’ stepfather says the mom was too addicted to games to care for the children. A Denver mother admitted she was playing an online Facebook game when her 1-year-old son drowned in the bathtub.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports, “72 percent of United States citizens, ages 6 to 44, play video games for an estimated 18 hours a week, and 4 percent of U.S. gamers are ‘extreme gamers,’ who play an estimated 50 hours per week. Eight-point-five percent of American gamers, ages 8 to 18, are considered to be clinically addicted.”
These two topics – video game addiction and the growing phenomenon of “boomerang” grown-ups supported by their aging parents – are more than distantly or peripherally related. What no one wants to admit is that both are signs of a collapsing society, a society in which men and women are no longer MEN and WOMEN, but puling infants bloated with overdeveloped senses of entitlement. The refusal to grow up and take responsibility for one’s life is the cause; becoming “addicted” to being idle and useless, playing games and wasting time, is simply one of the more pronounced symptoms.
There is no such thing as “video game addiction.” There are only fools and weaklings who refuse to exist within reality and take charge of their day-to-day lives. Regardless of the crutch or excuse, grown-ups who behave and live like irresponsible dependent children do themselves and all society a disservice.
Grow up, damn you.