Maybe our relationship with video games isn’t so simple

Every time a seemingly random act of violence occurs, our brains rely on social and cultural clues to bring some sense of reason to what is potentially unreasonable. Our brains, however, have another natural response to contradicting stimuli or irrational behavior; and that’s called “cognitive dissonance.”

Screen Shot 2019-08-06 at 3.44.48 PMCognitive dissonance occurs when one is aware that something is observably true (such as the unhealthy and psychologically violent online behavior associated with video game addicts) but refuse to connect the dots to other observations (such as one of these mentally unstable fatherless autistic boys going out and hurting people) due to a perceived political stance (such as the fear of being ideologically aligned with people you don’t like).

Because a lot of out-of-it politicians and boomer parents have been making connections between violent media obsessions and actual violence for decades, many people have determined that it can’t possibly be true. But, as it turns out, it is.

First, we should outline the reasons people experience cognitive dissonance when addressing this topic. People are obsessed with simple causation.
“Does marijuana use cause heroin use? No? Well, then the two can’t possibly be related.”
“If you watch Professional Wrestling, do you have a 100% chance of putting your friend through a card table? No? Well, then there must be no connection.”

When we consider studies and data in terms of black and white causation and correlation, we have a habit of ignoring the underlying data that is often not addressed by the study in question.

And that’s where we are with video game addiction…and the dark web culture that dwells in it.

America has the highest level of video game sales. So saying that other countries play video games and don’t have many mass shootings is irrelevant. Other countries have higher rates of suicide than the United States. Does that mean that suicide isn’t an issue, or that alienation mixed with video game addiction don’t increase suicidal thoughts?

Well, as it turns out, all of the studies that you see your friends referencing on social media regarding video games being a contributing factor to aggressive behavior are demonstrably and horrifyingly incomplete.

Researchers have essentially determined that normal video game use (violent or non-violent) lights up very important parts of the brain. It can help normal young people and middle aged folks engage in team work, play, feel small senses of accomplishment, and increase social activity. That’s what all of the studies you’ll hear about will explain.

Unfortunately, you’re not hearing the studies that relate to video game overuse and addiction on the unhealthy brain. Those studies are tougher to conduct. It’s not exactly like you’re going to have volunteers raising their hands saying “I’m an introverted sociopath, research me!” Nor would you necessarily want to test long-term video game use on the chronically suicidal.

Video games, because they engage the user on a participatory level, connect psychological experiences in complex ways. And the science has shown this for decades. You could have a violent reaction toward feelings of failure, a psychological connection to your online persona, or even make unhealthy real-world substitutions for digital fantasies.

If video games didn’t have psychological impact that was well-researched and considered, we wouldn’t have things like micropayments and delayed gratification in mobile games. Scientists know how gaming impacts human minds. And they know how it impacts diseased minds. Most importantly, they know that most minds aren’t diseased, so as long as we don’t talk about it, no behavioral change needs to be discussed.

The problem with wanting to have real conversations about sociopolitical or cultural data and how it impacts the human condition is that most people you observe discussing “science” are people who are woefully out of date and arrogant when it comes to actual research…

…and we tend to have an issue admitting that behavior we often engage in may actually be destructive for certain people. They will accuse you of wanting to censor their hobby, or buying into some artificial social construct that one can not engage in A without resulting in B.

The fact remains that all addictive behavior is similar with similar treatments and similar psychological profiles. However, not all addictions have dark corners of the web to which they can retreat, hole-up, and cultivate that behavior discussing kill counts and violent fantasies.

fullsizeoutput_260Of course video games aren’t solely to blame for violent behavior. Neither are movies, music or any other form of art. But to ignore the psychological impact that an unhealthy relationship with any aspect of media can have in certain individuals, and the proliferation of manipulated data to dissuade others from honestly discussing the matter, absolutely ensures that the problem will fester and grow irreparably.



The Harry Potter Festival just got more cringe

Last weekend, thousands of Harry Potter fans descended on Chestnut Hill, PA for the 7th annual Harry Potter Festival on Germantown Avenue. For seven years, this flamboyantly jejune exhibition has granted both disappointed children and brazen developmentally halted adults the ability to frolic in unfettered glee in what would otherwise be an unmitigated playground of derision, a sisyphean task in the hands of dedicated and motivated bullies, to be sure.

Who wouldn’t want to grab some beers with this dope crew?

What would otherwise be a rather enjoyable romp for the kiddies has turned into a free-range exposé of adult auto-eroticism, prancing without a care through a world of childlike wonder. But not this time.

Perhaps even more unabashedly cringe than the Potter Fans themselves are the perpetual storm-clouds known as the fundamentalist Christian right. These sign and megaphone-wielding butt-marauders seem bent on wasting everyone’s time, despite the fact that by the sheer nature of the event, the clientele have no limitation on the amount of time they’re willing to have wasted.

Of course, not to be outdone on the self-humiliation front by the sycophantic bastard children of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Harry Potter Fans stepped in to cast the only Patronum spell they knew: oblivious virtue signaling.

One of the attendees immediately took to Facebook after the harrowing affair to detail (at length) her stoic heroism in the face of “bigotry.” I’ll let Hillary (ugh) speak for herself (assuming gender).

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 2.18.55 PM

Full text and link to original post here:

Dear Chestnut Hill Neighbors,

As many of you who came out to enjoy the first magical night 
of the Harry Potter Festival likely already know ... 
we had some incredibly awful and deeply hateful visitors in the 
form of a group of 10 or 11 of the most racist, bigoted, 
misogynistic, women-hating, gay-hating, everyone-but-them-hating, 
and certainly Harry Potter-hating sign-waving and 
megaphone-screaming protestors I could ever have imagined 
showing up in our town,

who chose to gather on the corner of Highland and Germantown Ave. 
for the sake of taunting passers-by for about four hours last night.

The things they were shouting to children and the mothers of 
children walking past them were so beyond horrible, so profoundly 
UN-Christ-like ... that I will certainly not repeat them here.

After trying a few other peaceful methods (my mighty Bose speaker 
playing serene music, etc.) of drowning them out and trying to 
protect the little kids, I got the idea into my head that we could 
surround them with "hate has no home here" signs (to make a wall 
between them and the passing children) and I knew EXACTLY where 
to get them and quick:



(I'm sorry.)

But within half an hour, I was able to gather up 20 to 30 signs 
just from running up and down only five or six of our beautiful 
neighborhood streets. (East Meade, West Meade, parts of Shawnee, 
and Gravers Lane.)

In some cases, I was able to ask for your permission, and 
thankfully, you graciously gave it.

But in most cases, there were no lights on in your house 
(it was 5:30) and I became a thief (for a good cause) to steal 
your sign.

I want you to know that I know that I had no actual right to take 
anything from your property and that I am truly sorry for that.

I am also sorry that not all of the signs came back to me 
after it was all over (even though I tried for that) ... 
and so I can't return each one to every yard from which it came.

What I CAN do to make amends for this is to order 50 new HHNHH 
yard signs from the creator (I know her) and bring most of them 
back to each of your yards as soon as I can get them from her 
(perhaps Sunday?) ... as well as provide free ones to anyone who 
lives in Chestnut Hill from my shop for the next few weeks. 
(It's Isabella Sparrow ... between Starbucks and the Cheese Shop.)

What I can also do 
is say THANK YOU.

Because you are the kind of person who would have put such a dear 
and loving sign in your front yard all those many months ago 
... and because we are the kind of neighborhood that just has so 
MANY of these signs within such a very small distance from that 
temporarily-awful intersection ...

the people I gave your signs to to hold up were able to 
completely surround those angry and hate-filled people, who 
were yelling truly horrible things to five year old children 
on our beautiful village streets.

Your signs (and many loving voices who chanted "love lives here")



OUT ...

and eventually

they could barely even be seen or heard ...


they left.

I don't know if they will try to come back tomorrow ...

but I do know that Chestnut Hill will not allow them to spew 
whatever it is that has turned them into such agonized souls 
with so much hideous vitriol to unleash.


I am grateful beyond words to live here.


And I will do all that I can to get you your signs back.


Text your address to (deleted) if you have a missing sign 
that I haven't replaced ... or if you'd like me to bring one to 
your house so that you can join the many houses here who have 
unequivocally said:

"Hate has no home here."

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Imagine having so many reliably publicly-smug condescending neighbors that you can build a WALL out of their yard-signs.

The comments on this post are pure cancer, which is predictable. But, juvenile or not, their plan paid off and the “un-Christlike” champions of the Lord were dispelled from the land of Make Believe. I’d say that knowing the kind of behavior Jesus was capable of when he was pissed off, these people should be glad the protesters were “un-Christlike.”

“Christ Runs Afoul of some Harry Potter Dorks” (c. 2017)

In the end, it’s good that the neighborhood took it upon themselves to drive out an element that was purposefully harassing and frightening young children (alleged by reports). Kids don’t deserve to go through the same real-world bananas nonsense as their adult (but intellectually comparable) counterparts. I’m all for shitting on this parade, but leave the kids out of it.

So, in this scenario–even though I viscerally hate the methodology–I’m glad that the protesters were shut down so that the little wizards could enjoy their fairy tale in peace. And then, I see videos like this…

…and all I can think is: we need a better caliber of bully.