Saturday, 19 June 2010

Virtual playing

It is common for people as they get older to remember with fondness how everything was much better when they were young, especially the respect that young people showed to the elders. It's nonsense of course. I am more impressed with the friends of my children than the yobbos I went to school with (including me) and I am confident in the future knowing that they are going to be running the place.

Having said that though, there certainly are differences I notice from my childhood and it seems to be something shared with people my age. I grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s. I used to go everywhere on my bike which was a magnificent Raleigh Chopper. It was one of the originals that had the aeroplane throttle style gear stick on the cross bar. Later versions had it removed apparently because of health and safety issues. I guess it was because if you were involved in a very bizarre collision that defied the laws of physics, you might hurt your goolies.

Here is a picture of a group of children who have been out on their Choppers that I found here. Clearly they are taking their baseball bats to visit a rival gang or something:

I used to take my bike on the train and see friends on the other side of town and We would then ride all over the place. I would also get myself to sports practice, swimming lessons and so on. Bike riding memories go back quite far to when I had a small tricycle. That I used to ride around the block and sometimes beyond.

That for me is the key difference with now. I don't know exactly when it happened or how but I never ever see children playing in the street and only very seldom getting themselves to school or friends houses in the neighbourhood.

There is a rational fear that children might be abducted but the chances have been shown to be infinitesimally small. Regrettably, in almost all cases, the culprits of that sort of foul behaviour are people our children already know.

There is no doubt more motorised traffic around than there used to be and I think that is the reason we don't see children playing or riding around our neighbourhoods. People aren't stupid. Why would they expose their children to that sort of danger? I know I don't. But the result is a generation of children who play only in their backyard or if they do go to a local playground, it is usually in the backseat of their parents' car.

Even worse, instead of children being able to play outside, we see those revolting Nintendo Wii's displaying a cartoon world on a flatscreen tv. Rather than running outside in the fresh air, children waddle around on top of a plastic sensor.

Having said that, I do enjoy the boxing game. I am ideologically opposed to pretending to jog through Wii world but I have no problem with virtual punches to the face.

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