The creative will rule the world; the rest will watch and be entertained. Today we are on the cusp of a new world where those who can avoid being sucked into the entertainment offered by television, the internet, video and computer games will be the ones who control the destiny of the rest. This is not a world of ill-intent, as much as it is one of entertainment and interconnectedness gone awry. The addicted and addictive will surrender their personal choices and freedoms to those who can avoid these addictions. Look at yourself honestly to find out; which one are you? Only by knowing this can you find the balance that will allow you to maintain your individualism and contribute to a better world.
We have so many choices for how to spend our time, from volunteering and social activism, to lounging on a comfy sofa in front of the television or computer screen playing the latest quest computer games or life simulators. These choices do have meaning. The time we offer the world is in direct contrast to the time we satisfy ourselves in simulations. Those hours we spend with our friends, family and loved ones are hours not spent creating fake worlds, defeating fake armies, or watching fake “Reality” shows on television.
I speak about this topic from immense experience and a significant level of personal regret. As someone who loves to write, draw, play in improv scenes, study history, and discuss international relations, I have many creative outlets available. Yet, for many years I enjoyed an ever increasing amount of time spent in front of the computer playing amazing war simulators, civilization creating games, and watching much of what has been offered on television. During this time I let slip my creative passion in exchange for the false accomplishment associated with these contrived realities. Looking back, I can see almost two decades of wasted time in a life that is of limited duration.
Asking what our world will be like if there are more people like me who have let their creativity and contribution to the world whither in order to satisfy our own desires for immediate success and gratification, I am drawn to ask what our world would be like had historical figures from the past had these same opportunities for amusement. Imagine, if you will, a world where Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had been satisfied by a war simulator? Not bad, huh? Well, also imagine if Caesar had not put the final nail in the coffin of the civil wars of the Roman Republic, leading to the stability and peace of the Augustine Empire? Take a moment to consider if instead of spending his time inventing, Thomas Edison had decided to stay amused with life simulators. What if Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and Mahatmas Ghandi were satiated by The Simple Life instead of fighting for social justice? Think of how poor we would be culturally if William Shakespeare had occupied himself watching Survivor instead of taking the time and energy to write his masterful works. These are merely a few examples of people in history who were able to use their time; some good, some bad. Most people though, have not been these creative or commanding types, I know. Yet, even if we look at the simple medieval farmer and ask, what would have occurred had s/he been seeking entertainment over accomplishment, the chances are our answer would be starvation.
I am not surprised to read reports of young adults dropping dead in internet café’s after spending several days straight playing World of Warcraft without eating, or knowing that there are some people out there now who are making millions of dollars selling fake property in Second Life. These games are addictive, but that’s ok. I am not arguing against the games or the television shows, as much as for creativity. Personally, I’ve spent whole nights, into the next morning, creating empires in Civilization, Rome: Total War, and Age of Empires, yet when my wife wants to do something the next day I am a total waste of mass. I know I’m not the only one who has done this!
So, for everyone out there who loves to game, watches way too much TV, or even, forbid, writes too much on the computer, I suggest we all try something new. Turn them off for a while and volunteer in the real world. Perhaps work on a political campaign for someone you think would be a good leader, in a soup kitchen, at a hospital, for a library, or even just picking up trash in your community. Or, if you have it in you, write, draw, invent, and make people laugh. Live, work, contribute, build, and enrich the real world. No matter how fun this amusement stuff is, if our real world gets so bad as to need that many diversions, eventually there will be no real world left in which to play and watch this pointless stuff.
Tags: Entertainment, Creativity, Time, Resources