Putting off adulthood

This article appears in the See for Yourself feature series. View the full series.
(Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash)

Sister Nancy recently traveled to several cities in China. Today's blog relates part of her experiences.

We had a long plane ride ahead, and I was seated next to a teenage boy. We smiled briefly as I found my seat next to him. Once the flight was about to get underway, there were the usual safety announcements and closing of overhead compartments. "Prepare for takeoff." And so we did.

Immediately, the young man opened his cellphone to a game. He was holding the phone upright and moving his thumbs at the bottom of the screen at lightning speed. I was fascinated just watching his thumbs move faster and faster.

From my vantage point, it looked like his game featured evil things or aliens or both dropping from the sky, and the goal was to zap them before they reached the bottom of the screen. The boy was wearing headphones, so the only sound I heard was his frustrated, loudly exclaimed "Oh, man!" The screen showed a detonation of some kind and featured a cloud of annihilation going up from the bottom.

"I take it that's a loss?" I asked.

He said, "Yeah. A loss. I was doing so good for so long. Why, I almost beat my best score ever."

"It sounds like you're pretty good at that game," I responded.

"Good? I wish I was. It's not because I don't work at this game."

He went on to tell me that he's a junior in high school, and he belongs to a video game club. "We're trying to get recognized as a club sport."

I asked, "So does that mean you could earn a varsity letter for being a video game champion?"

He said, "Oh, man, that would be really cool. And just think — playing video games requires no time in the weight room, has no danger of concussions or broken bones, and gives your brain a workout."

"True, but what about the equipment? You were going at your cellphone with some pretty strong thumb-pounding for quite a while. How many phones have you gone through?"

He looked at me with disdain and said, "Now, that's an adult talking. I'd rather be like Peter Pan and never grow up."

He went back to his game for the rest of the flight, and I tried my best to stop thinking about what he'll be like as an adult.

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]