by Barbara Lovas, ThD
This article below, "The Dangers of Online Escapism" by Mark Earley is sad. A real child died of malnutrition while her parents played virtual video games all day long.
Before you say to yourself,"Well, I would never! What kind of parents could do such a thing?" Let's look at this issue from a deeper perspective.
First of all, we can all thank God that none of us have accidentally starved our children to death because we were playing video games all day long ... BUT, before we fold our hands and tell ourselves, "all is well," let's look at this from another perspective: God's perspective. How many times have we neglected to feed the spirit of the people we love the most because we were sucked into a virtual computer world??? How many days have our children, family or friends gone to bed spiritually starved due to our neglect?
God desires to use YOU to show His love. You, as a Christian, are God's hands, His voice ... His feet. In fact, you might be the only chance your family has to ever SEE Jesus. If you could understand the true depths of your calling, you wouldn't take it so lightly.
Have you often been sucked into playing virtual games online? Or perhaps spent too much time "surfin' the net?" Ask yourself this question: Who has tricked you into believing that your life was so mundane that you now feel there is nothing better for you to do than to sit in front of a computer screen all day? Is it that you feel that insignificant? Is it that you have become just too lazy? Or is it that you don't want to face reality? No matter what the reason, God has something He wants you to know: you are special, a 'one of a kind' creation. There is no one exactly like you AND there is no one else who can do specifically what only you have been called to do. Did you know that the people in your life are not there by accident? They have all been purposely placed there by God. It is His providence that has set your course. That means, that the spouse you married or will marry (in-laws included), your children, your co-workers, your boss, the woman you pass at the grocery store and even the bill collector that may call your house on occasion are all there for a purpose and NOT by accident.
The clock is ticking! Don't overlook the opportunity you have been given to impact someones life forever. If you are a parent, don't miss: one hug, one sloppy chocolate kiss, one "I love you," because you just so happen to be too busy milking a virtual cow or planting a virtual garden or cleaning your virtual dishes! It is time to get off the computer and get out there and do the real things!!! Go clean your own REAL dishes, do your own real laundry, plant a real garden with your own real family ... get real dirt under your real fingernails! Don't let ONE MOMENT pass you by without purposing to appreciating the value of it.
My oldest child will be 30 years old this year. I home schooled my children. We planted gardens, read stories together, went bug hunting and all that fun stuff. I did purpose to do whatever I could do to enhance their lives. But, as I look at my babies, who are now adults (taller than me, and with their own families' and lives), I can't help but to remember when they were so small and fragile... when I could hold their little bodies with the strength of only one of my arms. 'IF', I could just go back in time and rock that precious crying baby of mine ONE MORE TIME, kiss my sticky faced child ONE MORE TIME, give another BIG hug to my unsure adolescent ... "IF"I could ... I am sure, time would stand still for me. How I wish I could have had the hindsight I have now to know HOW PRECIOUS those times were ... And ohhhhhhhh how I wish I had recorded more of my memories, just jotted them down, 'cuz memories fade, just as time goes by way too fast.
Live in the moment, and hold to the hope that God has given you for your future. Instill in your family and those you come in contact with day-to-day the hope you have been given. Live in the REAL WORLD, because eternity is right around the corner. A real eternity! You will never be able to take back the time you have wasted, but you can start again now. Get out of Farmville, and plant REAL seeds. The ones that REALLY count!!!
God help us to organize our time wisely. Help us to put away the things that get us off-track, and help us to start focusing on real life. Help us not to take ONE MOMENT for granted. My prayer for us all is that we seize the day!!! Carpe diem, Barbara
The Dangers of Online Escapism
by Mark Earley
The irony could not possibly be crueler. A South Korean couple let their 3-month-old baby starve to death at home while they spent all their time at Internet cafes-raising a virtual child.
The British Telegraph reports, "Leaving their real daughter at their home in a suburb of Seoul to fend for herself, the pair, who were unemployed, spent hours role-playing in [a] virtual reality game, which allows users to choose a career and friends, granting them offspring as a reward for passing a certain level."
Kim Yoo-chul and Choi Mi-Sun would go home once a day to give their real baby powdered milk, and then go back to lavish care and attention on their online child. The virtual daughter was named Anima; the real daughter was never given a name.
Finally, they came home one day after a 12-hour session to find their baby dead. They were arrested after an autopsy showed that the unnamed little girl had died of prolonged malnutrition.
Tragically, on the other hand, the virtual girl is probably doing just fine.
Like me, you're probably feeling a little sick to your stomach and outraged, and wondering what on earth could possess parents to do such a crazy thing. It's tempting to write them off as just plain crazy, or some kind of extreme example of Internet addiction or other mental illness. But the disturbing fact is that every one of us who has ever indulged in any kind of prolonged escape from reality carries the seeds of this kind of addiction inside us.
William Saletan puts it this way in the online magazine, Slate: "Look in the mirror. Every time you answer your cell phone in traffic, squander your work day on YouTube, text a colleague during dinner, or turn on the TV to escape your kids, you're leaving this world. You're neglecting the people around you, sometimes at the risk of killing them."
Saletan explains that gaming websites aren't just games, they're worlds-and those worlds "are becoming ever more compelling." When real life gets to be too much to take, we can now log on to a world where everything goes smoothly and circumstances are easy to control. So we become more and more susceptible to being lured out of the real world into the artificial ones.
And this latest story isn't the only example of the tragic results of that kind of escapism. Saletan notes, "At least two Korean men have died of exhaustion after round-the-clock video-game marathons. Another man, nagged by his real-world mother, allegedly resolved the dilemma by killing her. The dead baby is just another casualty of this war between the worlds."
Virtual community is no substitute for real community-the kind of community we're called on to help create in our families, churches, and neighborhoods.
These examples just show how dangerous it can be when we forget that responsibility. If it's true that we're facing a war of the worlds, Christians must take a stand for real life and real community. Reality may be messy and uncontrollable, but it's a priceless gift given to us by our Creator-and so much more fulfilling than any fake world, or fake family, ever could be.