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If you weren't an exemplary child who grew up to be an exemplary teenager and then an exemplary adult, then I'm willing to bet the ones who raised you probably had some comment or request that seemed like it was constantly repeated to you. Clean your room! Do your homework! Quit watching TV! Or even simply to be quiet. You probably hated hearing this over and over again, but you didn't do much to change it, or your efforts went mostly unappreciated.

Growing up, I was constantly criticized (and not constructively) for the amount of time I spent on the computer, or playing video games, or watching TV. The criticism tapered off somewhat seven years ago when I got a job and eventually almost stopped watching TV, and died down more when work started killing my desire to game. The computer issue still is a bit of a sore point, though.

For the most part, the criticism was due to the usual stigma of spending so much time with those activities that one would become lazy and unproductive, and in some ways that was true. I also think there was concern that I would rather do those things than go out to play, which was only half true: I would have loved to go out and play, but friends who didn't pick on me for fun were in complete absence, and I didn't have anything resembling a sense of humor about it then. However, it was never really explained that way to me. It was always "You're wasting your life" and threats to take everything away that were never really made good on, probably because on some level my parents knew doing that probably would have ended up destroying me.

... digression tends to lead to more topics for another time. Heh.

Anyhow, if it wasn't made obvious, the amount of flak I got (and still occasionally do) for my tendencies towards being on the computer still grates at me. The difference now is that I'm seeing things from a different perspective. One that leads me to conclude that my parents are either really old-fashioned, or unintentionally huge hypocrites. Because while my parents complain about how much time I spend on the computer, my dad spends the majority of his time sitting in a chair and watching television, and my mom spends the majority of her time talking on the phone and watching television.

I'm not begrudging them this or saying they shouldn't spend their time this way. This is their house, they pay the bills, and they've worked hard to make it as such. As far as I'm concerned, this gives them plenty of leeway in deciding how they want to spend their time. Yet, at the same time, I can't help but feel like their choices erodes their position of morality to the point that the only reason they would "lecture" me along that particular line is because it is their house and they are my parents. It certainly isn't for my own good or with my best interests at heart, unless they think watching TV all day while occasionally doing something else is better than what I'm doing.

Admittedly, when I was younger I used the computer mostly for play and to satisfy a need for social interaction that "real life" wasn't fulfilling. Nowadays in addition to all that, I use it to look up and read things that interest me. Reading so many things on the internet, whether it be from forum-based games or a site full of information about something I played or watched once, is pretty much solely responsible for making me such a voracious reader today. I think this has played a major part in mellowing me out as I got older and saw more of the world, so to speak. In fact, there are times when I'm at the computer ... actually reading a book, while something is playing in the background, I'm talking to a friend, or I'm working on something. I work long hours and (at least lately) enjoy an active social life, so it's not like I'm being a total hermit. All of this is known to them. Yet still I hear about how I spend too much time on the computer.

They're my parents and they can say and do as such, but I can't help but feel, at least a little, that people who spend most of their waking hours (especially in the case of my dad, who is retired) sitting in one place, watching TV, and/or talking on the phone are trying to take issue with me spending most of my waking hours at the computer.

Is it wrong that I think that, even though they're my parents and I live in their house, they need a little more ground to stand on before they can take umbrage?

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jkmoreno

May 2012

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