Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Cynical Millennials

"Happiness has gone up for this group, despite employment percentages having fallen, and the percentage living with parents going up. And that's different than for any other group." 
"People have switched so much time, more time than we would have predicted, to computers and video games, and our model attributes that to technological progress."
Erik Hurst, economist, University of Chicago

"Honestly, I realized it was a bad thing when my mom would say things like, 'When are you going to go apply for these jobs? When are you going to go back to school'?" 
"And then in the back of my mind I kept hearing fun facts about these games."
Jacob Barry, 21-year-old, Grosse Point, Michigan
Video games

Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Video games

Video games -- according to Erik Hurst, macroeconomist at University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton, citing research reflecting a reality of today's world for young men -- have hooked those between the ages of 21 and 30. The pressure to find meaningful employment has so afflicted these tender psyches that they look for comfort in gaming. While they make themselves unable to support themselves financially by opting out of the search for employment, they feel comfortable, happier having shed the trauma of the job search.

Like children fixated on having fun immersing themselves in self-entertainment with the aid of new technology leaping ahead endlessly and advertising all of its irresistible advances in gaming play, they have bound themselves inextricably to 'having fun', in the process surrendering personal initiative and responsibility, rejecting the anguish that can accompany job interviews and follow-up queries only to be informed that they didn't make the grade, and the job they hankered after will not be theirs. Why submit oneself to that kind of stress? It isn't fun.

The research undertaken by Professor Krueger makes note of the fact that older unemployed men demonstrate "low levels of emotional well-being throughout their days and ... derive relatively little meaning from their daily activities". That is not the experience of younger men who decide not to undergo the same tortuous, demoralizing route of job-hunting, low expectations, and unending disappointments in a search that never seems to end, for many. Their ultimate game is avoidance.

Harvard and Gallup polls undertaken in 2015, along with research undertaken at University of Georgia and San Diego State University, discovered that Americans, between 1972 and 2012, veered toward becoming less trusting of society as they lost confidence in large institutions in the process; the news media, business, religious organizations, the medical establishment, Congress and the presidency all seem to have for one reason or another, disappointed the expectation of a youthful demographic of American men; millennials in particular.

Statistics indicate that up to 2015, 22 percent of men 21 to 30 years of age who achieved less than a bachelor's degree in their academic life, self-reported no work in the previous year, up from 9.5 percent in 2000. Of men between the ages of 25 and 54, only 88 percent were currently working or in the process of finding employment, numbers that represent the third-lowest among 34 developed countries, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. And this is occurring with the U.S. in general registering a fairly low unemployment rate in comparison to many other countries.
As for young men lacking any college degrees, 75 percent of their time once used working, has now been displaced by computer time, and that is reduced to playing video games, the study points out, based on the time-use surveys of the U.S. Census Bureau. Young men without employment and lacking any college time were spending 3.4 hours weekly playing video games between 2004 to 2007. Between 2011 and 2014 that time doubled to 8.6 on average weekly, which doesn't in fact seem all that excessive for a leisure time activity. Though for 25 percent of unemployed young men three to six hours a day is spent gaming.

The concern is that video games do not in and of themselves promote any gain of a positive nature. They may, in fact, lead to other activities even more problematical than merely wasting time gaming. There is also the proliferation of pornography, prevalent and increasingly appearing in video games. Which has led the American College of Pediatricians to warn that online pornography has the potential of promoting callousness toward women, to incite men to consider rape and infidelity normal. And to guide men astray, shunning marriage and children.

What's more, people's inborn sense of conscience, the recognition between right and wrong, can become corrupted with the kind of unending exposure to violence and pornography through the medium of these games in which young men increasingly immerse themselves. Morality suffers, when through the auspices of video games people feel free to indulge in the  'harmless' exercise of power, committing vicious murders in a virtual landscape; actions for which there are no evident real-life consequences, but which can shape thought and impressionability.

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