Recently, former Secretary of Education William Bennett posted an op-ed on CNN calling on men to “man up,” get off the video games and get married.
Rather than write a long rebuttal no one would read–I wrote the “Grumpy Old Man” script. As an addendum to the comic here are a few of my thoughts…
Media has always been a convenient cultural boogieman.
It makes sense–it’s generationally, socially, and racially segregated. Thus, talking heads can easily criticize it without threatening to alienate their core constituents, who, more than likely, are also wary of or hostile to new media. Further, complex social truths don’t lend themselves to easy analysis, particularly on a national or global scale. It’s far easier to place the blame for the social trends one finds distasteful on a media you don’t care for.
This is precisely what Secretary Bennett did.
Poor employment opportunities, demographic changes in higher education , cracks in the glass ceiling, objectification of women, and falling church attendance are apparently due to a lack of “manliness” and the hobby of the unmanly–video games.
I have no doubt that thousands of sociologist, economists, deans, social scientists and theologians have written volumes on each of these complex issues. Though I’m admittedly ignorant of the research on any one, and certainly all, of these issues I would be stunned if any reputable researcher found a causal link between gaming and any of these social truths.
Deep down, my objection with Bennett’s op-ed is the patently silly assumption that, “turning off the video games” would have some real impact on any of the social problems he identified.