I recently read that as we mature our brains become more able to separate what is real from what is fantasy. The information I found also said that it takes a community or an environment to help train our brains to recognize the difference.
When I was a tween, I remembered watching a Conan the Barbarian movie, you know the one where the bad guy’s head gets cut off and rolls down the stairs, and it gave me nightmares for weeks.
credit via entertainmenteveryday
So of course, my parents wouldn’t let me watch any more movies like that for quite some time. But they and my brother also did something else, they explained to me that everything I’d seen on that television was made-up, pretend, it wasn’t real.
Then came the Highlander series and by that time, I had no problem watching movies with people getting their heads cut off. There wasn’t any blood, and I knew by then this was all made up for entertainment purposes. I not only watched all the Highlander movies, but sat and watched the series on TV with my brother. It was cool.
credit via weapons-universe.com
Back then, what we saw on television was fictional. What was real came in the form of news and talk shows. Even then, most of the sitcoms we watched were created to promote family values. Anyone remember the Cosby’s? How about Family Ties or Home Improvement or Third Rock from the Sun? (I know I just further aged myself here.)
Where have all those shows gone?
Now, what we see on television is more reality than fantasy. We see television shows about cake contest and climbing the corporate ladder, but we also see crime scenes, cops and violence, and many sit coms filled with vulgarity and dysfunctional families.
Then a few days ago, I came across the horrific story of the two students that stabbed a fellow student and blamed it on a fictional character named Slender Man. I’m not sure what distressed me more, this violent act, or not knowing this character existed and my kids did.
The questions that arose from this was: Can you blame a fictional character for your actions? Whose fault is it – the media or the parents?
To which I’ve had some time to think on this. You may agree or disagree, but this my personal thoughts on this subject.
All of the above is to blame. Not one of these factors is individually responsible for the actions our youth take when influenced by what they have been exposed to at home, at school, or in our communities (internet communities included).
No matter what your role is to the youth in our community, we are all responsible to help those youth learn to differentiate reality vs fantasy and wrong vs right. A parent’s role in mentoring their child is much greater.
Parents, you are the defender of your child, the one with the sword and the shield, and the one with the wisdom to guide them on their journey from birth to adulthood. When the quest becomes difficult, you can enlist the help of family, friends, and other experienced elders in your community.
Youth, you are the ones on the journey. Living in a world all of your own is a great escape. Your quest today is much more difficult than those who have come before you. Oh, the tangled vines that have woven behind us that you must face.
What do you find most scary about our real world?