Archive for video games

How to Fix the Bully Problem

Posted in current events with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

On the morning of 11 August, I turned on the TV to see a story that has sadly become an all too common story: 11-year-old Ty Field was being bullied, so severely and so relentlessly that he felt his only way to escape it was to commit suicide. It’s the same story that happened a few years ago to Megan Meier, who was bullied over MySpace to the point where she hanged herself in her closet.

In fact, a simple Google search of “bully suicide” produces nearly 1.7 million hits. Story after story about teenage kids bullied to the point where they have no other choice but to kill themselves. Stories about kids like Phoebe Prince, who killed herself after being tormented by a clique of high school girls; or Jon Carmichael, who killed himself after being bullied by most of his school; or even Jared High, who killed himself in 1998 because of bullying. A website about Jared links to several other kids and teens who have committed suicide due to bullying.

In the MSNBC interview I saw with Ty’s father, the question was asked, “Why are so many kids committing suicide today? What is different about your generation than this generation?”

The response was, “Part of it is all of these violent video games.” I cursed out loud.

As someone who was bullied in my younger days (and at times am still bullied today), I can assure everyone that it is not violent video games that make people violent. It does not desensitize people to violence, it doesn’t create violent people. Study after study after study has proven that there is no link between violence and video games. It is a foolish assumption that television, movies, video games, and music can completely change a person’s character. Violent people are predisposed to violence.

But Ty’s father continued his answer: “It is also the technology of the age. Bullies are now able to torment their victims 24/7.”

I immediately apologized. It was the wisest thing I’ve heard about bullying yet. Technologies like Facebook and MySpace, which are accessible whenever, along with Internet anonymity, provide a whole new avenue of bullying which has never been seen before. Anyone can be anyone else and can say whatever they want, and they feel like there are no consequences.

Lori Drew, when creating a fake MySpace account, thought she would just mess with Megan Meier to get back at Megan for spreading rumors about her daughter. The result was suicide.

How do we solve the problem of bullying? Short answer: we can’t.

We can’t because as of right now, there is no concrete definition of “bullying.” The definition we have is: “act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally.”

This happens every day, not out of hatred, and not out of abuse, but out of kids being kids. Kids will hate other kids over stupid things, and as a result, they will make fun of and torment other kids. It happens, and it only gets out of control when people don’t intervene.

But who should intervene? The schools are doing all they can, and there is a stigma of being a snitch when reporting instances of bullying.

Like most problems with children, the responsibility lies in the parents. Parents should make sure that they are raising kids in a positive environment, and to notice when their kids are not quite right. Kids don’t just wake up one morning and are violent, just like they just don’t wake up one morning and swear. It comes from somewhere, and many times, it comes from the home.

Ty’s father said, “No one sits at the dinner table and talks anymore.” Shouldn’t we get back to that?

There is No High Score for Christians

Posted in opinion, religion with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

There are many perks to being a Christian: a huge support group, opportunities to personally grow in one’s faith, and a whole genre of music/literature/television/movies, just as in any religion.

Unfortunately, just as with any religion, with all of those positives come quite a few negatives. Christianity has its fair share of extremists and whack-jobs, people who claim to be preaching the love of Christ and practice hatred instead. The biggest offender is probably Fred Phelps, of Westboro Baptist Church fame, though occasionally we will see appearances by Pat Robertson, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and nearly every politician (mostly Republican) lobbying for legislation that oppresses a group of people.

But despite all of that, the thing that most disturbs me is the fact that many Christians feel that, in the quest for eternal life, we must rack up a high score of sorts. Good works + converted souls = Eternity with Christ.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. I’ve not read anywhere in the Bible where it says that God favors those who turn the most people to Christianity. But for some reason, people are all about converting the masses rather than living like Christ.

I see this most often in retreats or conferences I attend. Out of the multitude of speakers with a variety of hit or miss messages, there is always one preacher or presenter that gets up and talks about how the world is on a slippery slope into damnation, and it is up to us Christians to win the world back for God. I’ve heard stories of a battle cry being established, but I personally have not seen nor heard any.

While the idea itself isn’t necessarily bad, the means by which those people achieve ends is frightening. Thinking back throughout history, the conversion of souls to Christianity usually involves a lot of bloodshed, like in the Crusades, or the violent conversions of the Native Americans. And while there is little to no bloodshed in the modern age, scare tactics and violence are often the method of choice for showing people that Christ is a loving deity.

Who hasn’t heard the fire and brimstone preacher shout to his congregation that non-believers will be thrown into a lake of fire for all eternity, forever suffering the stench of seared flesh and the crushing pain of eternal torture? Because it’s certainly not a metaphor or anything. But that’s another entry.

The point is, being a Christian isn’t like playing Halo (or for the older crowd, Super Mario Brothers). After you die, you don’t enter your initials into Heaven and hope like crazy some punk with a few extra tokens is going to beat you. Most rushed conversions don’t really blossom into anything meaningful anyway; like the parable of the seeds, sometimes the seed is choked out by weeds, and sometimes it is eaten by birds.

I’m sure I’ve led my fair share of people to Christ. In fact, I can think of a couple of instances of where by purely loving someone and being there for them, I’ve helped them see that Christianity isn’t a religion of ignorance, but one of acceptance. Thing is, I’m sure there are many more that I’m completely unaware of.

I’m not in it to see my name in flashing lights. I’m in it because there is nothing better. Shouldn’t it be the same way for everyone else?