Feed the Idiot Box

10 06 2010

Speaking of morbid obesity, do you 9-to-6’ers ever worry about what it does to your health when you have to sit in a chair staring at a computer screen for 9 hours a day?  It just seems so unnatural, especially on days like this when it’s sunny and beautiful outside.  I can just feel the pancake-butt coming on, and I don’t like it.

Adding to my paranoia, I just read an article in the New York Post yesterday about how pro video gamers– who stare at a screen for 10 hours a day, a mere one hour longer than I do– have the fitness level of 60-year-old chain smokers.  And of course there is this disturbing video of a kid whose mom cancelled his World of Warcraft account:

This kid represents the extreme, but I think there are many teenagers who aren’t too far off from the point where they would simulate sodomy on themselves with a remote control after being cut off from a computer game.  I worry that our society is becoming soft, not just physically, but psychologically.  We are so used to having our entertainment in a box and our air-conditioned cars and rooms that we are losing sight of what’s really good about life.

You know that rush you feel when you go to the beach and spend the entire day in the sun, wearing yourself out in the salt water and getting your bathing suit full of sand and baking your skin, and then coming back into the condo/hotel room/house completely dirty and parched and starving? It’s the best feeling ever, and most of us only get to experience it like once a year on vacation.  Sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing working in an office when I could be a deckhand on a sailboat in St. Lucia, not caring about my career goals or gym membership or Comcast bill.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  What are the benefits of commuting to an office every day, coming home to watch TV or run on a treadmill and then doing it again?

Seriously, can anyone answer that?  I need a pep talk.

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12 responses

10 06 2010
BS

I was addicted to a video game like World of Warcraft like 10 years ago. It was the first one of it’s kind (i.e. complete online world) and it is unimaginably addictive. It consumes your entire life and breaking it was probably comparable to a mild heroin addiction (thankfully, it doesn’t have the relapses that heroin does)

regarding video games, it’s just the beginning. electronic entertainment is in it’s infant stage. As technology progresses and advances beyond mouses and keyboards, games will become completely immersive. I think that eventually it will trump movies as a higher form of art (there are certain games now that are comparable to movies in story, sound, voice acting, graphics, etc). games will be censored from kids not because of the sexual content or violence but b/c they are so addictive.

Even now in south korea, Star craft is a SEMI PROFESSIONAL SPORT WITH 3 TV CHANNELS DEDICATED TO IT. There was a cheating scandal that rocked the nation like steroids did for baseball.

How many years do you think we are away from a machine that’ll simulate a full sexual experience well? It’ll probably be much closer to 5 than 20 years.

introducing the iFuck. be afraid.

10 06 2010
bros

I get sad about this too. I really liked Colbert’s interview with the kooky Mark Frauenfelder who wrote a book about doing things by hand. I hate how far away we urbanites are from ourselves as humans. I try to modify as much as I can to not feel so disembodied, like yoga which has an embodied spiritual element that isnt hokey to me because it emphasizes community, going to the cobbler instead of throwing out shoes right away, making real food almost every night, buying handmade things as much as I can as gifts and staying away from unnecessary technology that only dehumanizes us more.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/political-bookworm/2010/06/frauenfelders_do-it-yourself_h.html

11 06 2010
geof

i love that you used cobbler in a sentence, and it wasn’t about food.

10 06 2010
Milly

I appreciate your thought-stimulating post. A few thoughts:

-Commute by bicycle
-Squeeze in a longer lunch bike/walk, eat lunch at your desk
-Bring your lunch = healthier
-When you take a vacation, take an adventurous one, not a loung-centric one
-Do something hard everyday, or atleast once a week
-Find other people who do the same, running group etc.
-Don’t watch TV everynight
-Get a Dog you have to excercise, not a lil creature.

I don’t know, it’s all about lifestyle. I work at a coffeeshop and people come in before 8am, sweaty from their run, or bike commute. Some other folks come in and make sure they leave enough time to chat and read some paper. Seems nice to me.

A time inventory of where we waste time, so we can find time to do life-enriching things.

I learned evrything I know from taking a month off of the “Real World” to take expeditions in the North Woods. Outward Bound.

I dont know, want to start a club?

10 06 2010
BS

Also, the NYtimes article that you quoted also stated that they have the reaction of fighter pilots.

In their defense, the precision and athletic ability to hit a 100 mile fastball is really impressive, but why is it more impressive than someone that has pinpoint precision and accuracy in a virtual world?

10 06 2010
bros

because its not the real world. it is virtual, and therefore completely useless and enriching to nothing.

10 06 2010
BS

says the girl that spends hours a day on the internet chatting and posting on blogs.

argument doesn’t hold up. movies are pretty ‘virtual’ and i don’t think anyone would argue that they are less enriching and useless comparable to theatre.

you lose

11 06 2010
Adam

with the technological boom we’ve seen already during our lifetime (and the scientific projection that it will continue at exponentially increasing speeds) i think we’re living during the dawn of new age of humanity where the relationship with the actual real world is somehow slowly becoming secondary to the world we experience through technology. maybe not our generation, but certainly not too far off we will have people who live over 50% of their lives virtually.

about three years ago i was sitting in a cubicle in DC looking 80 feet across the sales floor at the nearest window while the early summer sun reflected off the building next door. i still remember the feeling it gave me.. like seeing an ex and realizing you never should have left her.. just an undeniable ache in my heart. some people have cats that live indoors all the time, and others have cats that get to roam the neighborhood. they’re both domestic, but there is something much less natural and much more modernly domestic about that indoors only feline. i’m not ready to become a modern day human. i still find my greatest pleasures when i embrace that organic core deep inside.

i haven’t had a “serious” job since i left DC. if life is a game, it’s undeniable that the city is the greatest stage where the fiercest competition lies. as a person who loves to win, it’s a strange feeling to not even compete. the rural life is like standing on the sidelines and as a young educated person, it can feel a bit… too easy. but then again, it’s 86 degrees here in Virginia Beach today, and i’m going to go for a run on the soft sand and take a dip in the atlantic. and when i’m riding that last wave in to the shore, i’ll know in my heart i’m living my life the way i want. you’ll find your way too LB.

11 06 2010
bros

im talking about specifically their muscles and reflexes being comparable to fighter pilots being completely useless because it isnt like this ability is being translated to the real world where those reflexes are useful. I dont see what that has to do with chatting and posting which is more a communicative gesture than a physical development that is supposed to be ‘impressive.’ I don’t think accuracy to hit a fastball at 100 virtual mph is impressive and I think having the reaction time of fighter pilots because you spend half your life on your ass developing your hand and wrist fast twitch movements is impressive or enriching, and wasnt trying to extend the argument to theater. video games may totally be enriching to one’s life and I have nothing to say about that. only the subsequent physical effects. most of which are actually detrimental.

11 06 2010
geof

DR, i guess you and most of us do it for stability of income, nebulous ideas about starting a family someday, thoughts about retiring comfortably, wanting medical coverage, and thinking desk job is expected by peers and family and society in general. Some of that good old American DIY attitude is in there too. You want to be successful in the career track you have chosen. And if you came in dirty, parched, and starving everyday of the year, would it be as fun as those few days at the beach? On Monday, skip lunch, walk home barefoot, drop some sand in your pants on the way. It will be just as good as good without the body surfing, feeling your toes in the sand, or walking in the shallows as the waves lap your feet. Nope, you’re right, our whole society is backwards.

Good news for lazy ass sitters: Microsoft’s Project Natal is the next step from Wii, which is a step up from simple handcontollers. Natal reads body movement, not controller movement. There will be further developments from all the console companies and prob Mac and PC before long that will require full body participation to play video games, not just small twitches like with Wii nunchuks. I imagine some pretty serious workouts will be necessary to do well in at least some games of the next 2-3 years. I do think a generation of people whose brains were wired to use fairly limiting hand controllers will want to stick to those, but a kid who only knows the very freeing (or just natural if you haven’t used controllers) experience of using your entire body will prefer that, as opposed to a complex ball of buttons and joysticks. Watch a person play a race car game. Many players naturally lean even when that does nothing to control the game.

12 06 2010
cm

Its a balance of working toward the big things you want to do/accomplish in life (if that’s your thing) and doing things that satisfy your senses as a human. Sometimes those things don’t always line up. There was a time in my life when I was doing a really interesting job that had a large (and somewhat positive) impact on some things in the world that were important to me, and to do it, I had to ride my bike everyday to a dungeon and lock myself inside for 10 hours. That was the balance. It might have been a lot more satisfying as a human being to be a fisherman or bake cookies for a living, but I don’t think that would have done it for me on an intellectual or world impact level. You are sacrificing that simplicity of life to be an actor in a larger world.

That said, the longer I spend doing the dungeon jobs, my current one not excluded, the more other, simpler things appeal to me- like being a good son, brother, and someday husband, father, etc matter more than whatever I was trying to do. I have only come to this conclusion recently, but it seems like it’s going to involve more balancing.

On this virtual tangent- “virtual” things that have no impact on the real world have zero appeal to me. Great movies- in, of course. Warcraft- out. Go be a REAL fighter pilot.

And last- LB- get a STANDING DESK for your office- it will change your life.

19 06 2010
Katie

CM – I think I had the exact opposite reaction that you did. I was doing the same dungeon thing and it made me realize how important the sensory experience of being human are and how important being relatively happy at each moment was. I guess prior to that I had the idea that I’d pay my dues and cash them in for happy chips later on. Not for me. So now I do a job that’s still fulfilling and often challenging but I don’t bear the weight the of the world on my shoulders.

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