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Life is not a video game

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“Congratulations! You have now moved to level 48!” The message flashes on 10-year-old Akash’s screen. Level 48 in just two days! That, in his mind, is a super achievement, and he immediately shares it with his friends. Congratulatory messages pour in with fancy praises. He begins to feel good about himself until his report card from school arrives. Just pass in some papers and failed in others.

Parents tell him sternly that until his grades improve, he cannot play that “silly game”.

Akash wants to shout, but he knows better. He walks out of the room. Alone, his mind wanders. Playing video games is so much fun. I do so well in it. My parents do not recognise my ability. They only see my marks. Worse, I have to study now and not do the thing that gives me happiness.

His parents have reacted as most parents do. As adults, we know of the reality that we see day in and day out. Children see the reality at their level, what goes on in their daily lives at home and school. If playing video games and surpassing several levels in a short time gives instant recognition in the virtual world and their friend circles, why wouldn’t they want to continue?

Appreciation feels good. Criticism, even if constructive, hurts. Success in video games guarantees instant joy.

Children do not know the hardships in the adult world, where every effort takes time to take fruit. Nothing comes easy.

Bad example

But is it fair to say that only children want instant gratification? We have instant coffee. As the very name suggests, we want coffee immediately and are not willing to wait for a few extra minutes for a slowly brewed cup. We do not want to spend a lot of time browsing books with our children. We want instant ways to find books for them. We do not give them the time to choose, but we find ways and means to instantly find books for them. Companies catering to children’s education promise instant results. “Your child will be the next brilliant...,” they say.

I ask what is the hurry? Why not progress step by step, wait for the results? What is the need to become an expert in a field while still a child? Why do that and lose the joys of childhood?

Children want instant joy. We want instant results. They see us desiring instant results. They get it in video games. Yet, an achievement that is considered huge in their friend’s circle is belittled by the adults whom they look up to. How different are we from them when it comes to instant gratification?

Shouldn’t we know better and set an example? Talk to them about the little steps that we take almost every day to reach a goal far away in the future? Be honest about our feelings when we face setbacks and show how we stand up to take a hopeful step forward? Do children even see that side of us?

The Bhagavad Gita tells us that our duty is to do what we can and leave the results to the divine. Why do we forget that we need to put in the effort for magic to happen. It simply cannot happen in an instant click. It takes time for magic to happen. It takes practice. It takes time.

lakshmi.mitter@yahoo.com

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 3:06:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/life-is-not-a-video-game/article32990010.ece

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