THE PALEOCRAT TRIBUNE

Little more than a gaggle of hacks and geeks.

The Day the Playground Died

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I’m so sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sure, it is a overused cliche, but when the shoe fits, wear it. 

The cough and sleepless nights make it hard to think, but my fingers on the keyboard typically do that for me. I could be caught up in another of my daydreams and yet my fingers would continue pounding out yet another mediocre blog aimed at the peanut gallery.

These daydreams have become rather problematic though. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve never been given some diagnosis for it. Daydreamitis? Understimulatia? At any rate, it feels that I am always neck deep in these wild-eyed imaginations… most of which occur at the most inopportune time.

Who is to blame? I mean, the blame has to stop somewhere, and I certainly can’t take the fall.

Why not blame the media for this set of affairs? They are the perfect scapegoat, really. Enough baggage to make the blame stick, but enough innocence to make it a worthy sacrifice. I readily admit that blaming the media is a cheap (and common) way out of taking personal responsibility where personal responsibility is due. But for the sake of this particular entry the media shall do just fine.

Start with television. My youth was spent in TV Land. Or was it TV Wonderland? Cartoons were just the beginning, or at least the beginning of the day. My day gradually turned into a blur of channel-flipping, confident that there was always something worth watching. Of course, by “worth watching” I mean what I considered to be the best thing on at that particular moment in time. It could have been 90210, You Can’t Do That on Television, or even Xena the Princess Warrior! All that mattered was that it was on the TV and that I was watching.

Then the Nintendo hit the shelves. That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back. Nintendo, Gameboy, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, GameCube, Playstation II… on and on it went, system after system, hour after hour down the drain. All the while my brain was working at a pace just above death and just below comatose.

Gaming was really the beginning of an extraordinarily fast decline. The ramifications of its advent into human history was visible for any eye willing or able to see. The neighborhood basketball courts, baseball fields, and parks became ghost towns as kids traded worn out shoes for calloused thumbs and that wretched feeling one gets from having stared at a television screen far too long. GI Joe figures collected dust, Erector sets and Lego blocks were stored away… but at least we had Super Mario, the Double Dragon twins, Soda Popinski and Zelda. 

Everything sounded like a good trade-off at the time. Life was easy and entertaining. Better yet, we didn’t have to entertain ourselves. No more demand for energy, creativity, and a relatively stable sleeping routine. No of that awkward silence that accompanied reading. No more lead-stained palms from shading your most recent piece of comic artwork. Everything was so easy… too easy.

Fast forward to the present. Here I sit in front of yet another machine with flashing lights and cool background music. My fingertips are still calloused, though I can only but imagine that my thumb appreciates the space bar over against the four-way Nintendo directional pad. And my sleep schedule is still erratic. Caffeine, eye drops, and high gravity lager may not keep me on track, but they’ve managed to keep me in the same zip code.

I can only wonder what life would be like without 24-hour television and video game systems. What would our playgrounds, basketball courts, and baseball fields look like? What would I look like? 

Everything happens for a reason, or so I trust. The question, then, is what reason all of this has had in the grand scheme of human existence. Maybe somehow, somehow, all things lost or lessened will be returned and strengthened? We may be seeing it right before our very eyes, at least in part. Maybe… hopefully.

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