A new book called“The Demise of Guys: Why Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About It” is shedding new light into the problems facing emerging adult males. The book details research that is singling out young men who have become hooked on two mediums: video games and online porn. The link is that they both focus on various forms of arousal. Similar to gambling and drug addictions, researchers are saying it is very possible to become emotionally addicted to video games and porn due to the arousal effect of each. Brain imaging technology shows that both video games and porn lead to a constant state of stimulation which becomes problematic when the individual does not know how to operate without this stimulation, or is continuously seeking it.
While the book details the psychological and physical effects of these vices, they don’t offer much solutions other than getting individuals to stop using them. That is poor advice considering that no one tends to change one’s will by mere determination. If Scottish pastor Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) is to be believed then the only way one changes is by the expulsive power of a new affection. Something else has to become more lovely and important then the destructive things that currently inhabit the heart.
In this instance, porn tends to give a sense of intimacy while actually not being intimate at all with anyone. In fact, if anything, it tends to objectivity the individual viewed leading those who watch porn to see someone as physical primarily and therefore an object to be used and not a person to be communicated with.
If porn gives a false sense of intimacy, then video games give a false sense of accomplishment. What better way to feel a sense of reward then to beat all the levels, and unlock all the secret passages and boards of the latest game that others of your generation are playing as well? Games like “Call of Duty” release new versions yearly (in November for this one) so that individuals can spend hundreds of hours to master the game, only to start over again 365 days later.
So while stimulation and addiction seems to be the physical problem, porn and video games ultimately lead men to become less risk takers in particular because it is easy to accomplish and be intimate from the comfort of your own couch. When given the option between getting a job, working at school, or starting a family—why would men take that risk when there is more to gain and less to lose seemingly from the comfort of your own house?
So how do we change this? Is it merely telling men and women to stop? Will that really work? Probably not. What really needs to happen is that these individuals need to have people close enough and who care enough to reveal the emptiness of these devices. That can only happen if there is a larger framework of purpose and truth that is depicted for them to enter into. Once you tell a narrative on this scale though you enter into the world of assumptions and faith. What is good? What is right? What should we do with our lives? What is the purpose of everything? At the end of the day males aren’t failing because of porn and video games—they are failing because they don’t have a significance to be apart of outside of themselves.