Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The family’s role in the Internet age

A few weeks ago, while surfing within iTunes, I stumbled upon a podcast that was religious in nature. I downloaded the whole thing so that I can listen to it while driving. It was one of those days when music wasn?t enough to survive a rather hectic week.

So, instead of listening to the endless angst of the late Kurt Cobain, or the depressing notes of Rachmaninoff, I opted to hear a podcast. It being religious was just coincidental. However, it proved to be a treasure find in reference to a topic that is hotly debated in the cyber world.

Anyway, when the Q&A portion of the podcast was announced, the radio program was deluged with callers. There were some good questions that made me ponder, which is not a good thing when you are driving. The rest though were questions that I presume were theological and philosophical in nature.

However, the nature of the questions was way beyond my feeble comprehension. It was a stark reminder that the more you learn things, the more you are aware of your stupidity.

The realization pummeled my ego that I decided to change to radio mode and just listen to any narcissistic song. Fortunately, I also decided to pass a gas station which allowed me to listen for a few seconds more. At that moment, an interesting caller was put on air.

The caller was an 11-year-old from a midwestern city in the United States. Note that the topics on the show were already heavy and both guests and callers were put into task which could have made either parties nauseated. At least, I was.

Nevertheless, this kid — a boy — asked a question that dumbfounded everybody in the show. His question was simple, yet can be considered profound. He asked whether or not it is sinful to play a specific computer game that was then playing. I missed the title of the game but he described it as a game that has magic and demons in it and from the sound of it, it was RPG. Apparently, his dad asked him to stop. But his older brother who is, coincidentally studying for the religious life, said it was okay.

When the boy hurled the question, there was silence in the radio booth. The awkwardness is not lost to the listeners of the podcast considering it was a child who was sincerely asking a question.

Instead, it heightened the fact that those whom the question was addressed to are educated in advance humanities, philosophy, and even theology.

But there they were, silenced by an 11 year old. Thankfully, one of the guests had the right wit to tell the kid, honestly, that he personally does not know the game. He also told the kid that it might be best to listen to his father because he would normally know what?s best for him. Besides, it was only a game and can be revisited any time in the future when he is an adult.

Some will say that it was a safe answer ? a reply designed to dodge and not to answer the question. However, there was wisdom in that advice that all parties in that conversation, the kid, the guest, and the listeners, should heed.

The wisdom I am referring to can be applied in the recent debacles that was highlighted by the Lady Gaga concert and a fake press release attributed to a stance against the game Diablo III (which is awesome, so get your non-pirated copies. No, I wasn?t paid to say that).

Allow me to blurt out my own introspections. I am not a Lady Gaga fan. I don?t think I will become a Lady Gaga fan. I think of her as a Madonna copycat. But, I find some of her songs nice. Pop is always nice, but I won?t pay $300 to watch her live.

In contrast, I would pay $600 to watch U2 live. Heck, I would sell our refrigerator and TV just to see them live. However, I?m also a big fan of Freddie Mercury.

For sure, Lady Gaga can be provocative and quite disconcerting to people?s sensibilities. After all, she did most the things they are accusing her of. I, for one, find it disrespectful that one?s beliefs will be subject of ridicule by somebody else. In the street I grew up, an insult to somebody?s best shirt can mean a bloodied nose.

Nevertheless, I can’t find myself condemning her, not only because it is uncharitable to condemn, but because of my own musical tastes. I bang my head when I hear the riffs of Bohemian Rhapsody. I sing along to the chorus of Hotel California. I do an air guitar every time I would hear Highway to Hell and Enter Sandman. Heck, I can do a wicked Jerry Lee Lewis impression. But I wouldn?t be caught dead doing a Lady Gaga impression.

Look at the game Diablo III, or any game for that matter, with the same lens I used above. I am a gamer to some extent, even at this period in my life. However, when I was younger, I played Diablo many times. I was caught by my former boss playing Diablo II inside the office. I had the played the God of War series twice in a row. But didn’t touch the Grand Theft Auto.

So where am I getting at? I refer to the wisdom I was referring to earlier. It?s not what the guest told the kid. The wisdom I found is the presumed important role of the family or any guardian for that matter in terms of how we see things and absorb.

Society as a whole can only do as much in terms of guarding what it holds dear but it still the family that dictates the tempo of influence, both external and internal, and our actions. The dreaded acts of psychopaths are products of nurture.

In this Internet age, our fundamental wiring within the smallest unit of our society will define our capability of defending ourselves against the devils of our respective belief systems.


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