Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pandora's Xbox

. .
When Bill Gates was in the eighth grade, his school started a computer club. He found himself instantly addicted and his little obsession, as you might have heard, turned out pretty okay for him.

So what's my problem? Why am I actively discouraging my child from having the same experience? I've never been there, but I'm relatively sure Mrs. Gates isn't living in a 1207 square foot 1950s ranch with Formica countertops. Even if she's dead, I bet her ashes are in swankier digs than our house. I should be duct taping my kid in front of the computer every time he tries to go out and piss away another afternoon with the neighborhood ne'er-do-wells. Tire swing my ass, kid. How exactly is that going to translate into a cush job?

But I don't. Instead, I keep a steady stream of daylight between my boy and video games. I just don't quite trust them to keep their sneaky little hands to themselves. I was a kid once, too, don't forget. I remember how innocently it all starts. A little Pong after school with your buddies. Next thing you know, you're moving up to Tetris . . . just at parties, of course. Then it's Donkey Kong and Frogger and before you know it, you're messing around with email right in your own house and your parents still don't suspect a thing. You've got it under control, nothing to worry about. But you drop your guard for a minute and some friend turns you on to Facebook. Next thing you know, BAM, you're on Twitter. And that's all she wrote, people. You're hooked and there's no getting out. I want a better life for my kid, is that too much to ask?

The other day, I caught a few of his friends experimenting. I don't really want to be the one to narc them out, but I'm really pretty worried about them.

Mostly, what worries me is exactly how hard these kids are going to kick my kid's ass in the job market fifteen years from now. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-Hour Rule: how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve total expertise in any field. The Beatles, Bill Gates, even Mozart didn't really start knocking folks' socks off until they'd clocked 10,000 hours. These boys started computers while they were still in diapers. By the time they're in middle school, they'll be inventing Microchip Mascara or something, so people just have to blink their thoughts to each other.

And my boy?

Well, nobody rocks the Winnie the Pooh slippers like he does. I'm seeing a catwalk in his future. And an endless supply of school yard ass whoopings.

sigh . . .
. .


Amy B. said...

Maybe it's not numerous hours devoted to some nerdy pastime that matter. Maybe it's general nerdiness that's important. If so, he's good. When he's older, if anyone ever doubts his nerd cred, just show them this picture.

P.S. If hours of slavish devotion shape who we become, then my younger child will be a grade-A first class booger eater when he grows up. What's so great about that?

Jomama said...

VERY funny! the thing is, when Bill Gates discovered computing, there weren't pre-programmed eye candy like there is now. He had to WRITE the CODE to make it do anything, right? This stuff out there for addition is already processed. Not sure how much creativity there is in blowing things up and chasing things around a virtual track.

Of cours my spouse and kids assure me there is. We dragged the kids out to master bike-riding this weekend in between the hours of screentime. That's the part we are all 4 proudest of.

V said...

Read Boy's Adrift and you won't be so worried about your sweet boy! You'll become militant about his outdoor time.

Judy said...

Like the blog, but seriously doubt that the kid on the tire swing is our boy. (Perhaps my eyes are failing more than I thought.)

Susan said...

The kid on the tire swing is not only not our boy, it's not A boy. Our boy is the one pushing the swing. But don't worry about your eyes; your computer monitor stinks.


JimmyDThing said...

Sure, your kid might not be as "smart," if that's what you want to call it, as the boys who've been computer genius's since they've had control of their motor skills.

BUT... what you're child will have, is communication, social skills, and, because of other activities: many ways to look at the same problems.

Believe it or not, much more important in climbing that ladder and having a more successful life/job combo.