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The Importance of Keeping Artist and Audience Separate

February 10th, 2014 | Posted by Philip J Reed in film | television | video games | writing

Flappy Bird

Some of you might have heard about Flappy Bird, a very simple iOS game that saw an unexpected spike in popularity over the course of the past week or so. If you’re not interested in that game, don’t worry; I’m not going to talk about it, beyond using it to provide some context.

What I am going to talk about is the importance of maintaining the distance between artist and audience, and that’s something that Flappy Bird unwittingly illustrated quite well.

The simple game wasn’t exactly a critical success, but it found a large and appreciative audience all at once. To play you’d tap the screen. That was really it, but the cumbersome nature of the titular bird meant that it was downright miraculous if you made it any further than a few seconds into the game before failing. One tap equals one flap, but the physics complicated things; avoiding obstacles meant maintaining steady flight, which was quite hard to do when your bird was front-loaded and tended toward a natural face-plant.

That was the game, but that’s not why I’m talking about it. Why I’m talking about it is the fact that its developer, Dong Nguyen, has removed it as of yesterday from the App Store. His reasoning was both vague and clear; the game turned his life into a nightmare. Or, rather, those who played the game turned his life into a nightmare.

The kinds of messages Nguyen was receiving through Twitter and other media were absolutely out of line, but they were nothing compared to what happened after he announced the unavailability of his game: his life was threatened, the lives of his family and loved ones were threatened, and many in addition to that threatened to kill themselves. Whatever you might think of Nguyen’s decision to remove it from the App Store, the subsequent behavior of those who ostensibly enjoyed his game retroactively justifies his move. Why should he worry about disappointing people who would threaten homicide upon a man they’d never met?

Presumably Nguyen had fun designing the game. Presumably he also made the decision to monetize it. (It was available as a free download, but ads were shown in game.) What happened was that the fun was over, and the threats to his life and those he cared about were not worth the money. His audience, in a very direct way, killed what they loved.

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and the Flappy Bird debacle is just the most recent instance. While there has always been some amount of interplay between artist and audience, for the most part this flowed in entirely one direction: downhill. The artist composes upon the mountaintop, the audience waits below.

Of course there wasn’t a perfect break between them. Artists still have (and have always had) families and friends. Agents, managers, publishers. There is always somebody around who will have a chance to provide their opinions and guidance to those doing the creating. But they made up a very small portion of the audience. They were necessary exceptions.

Now with Twitter, Facebook, email, forums, Reddit and the like, artists engage with fans much more directly. Rather than a handful of close friends, artists field feedback — and demands, and threats — from hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of members of their audience constantly. It gets overwhelming, I’m positive, and when issues do arise, things are compounded by the fact that the audience member providing feedback has the option of remaining anonymous. The artist has no such luxury.

While that’s a topic worthy of discussion — it really is, though that discussion should probably be started by somebody other than myself — what really baffles me is why such a large number of people choose to employ this unprecedented level of communication for destructive purposes.

Why the threats? Why the insults? Why the demands? When artists came down from the mountaintop with their paintings, their sculptures, their novels, their poems, their double-albums in illustrated gatefolds, that’s all the audience got. They could enjoy it and appraise it at their own pace in their own way, and only in very rare exceptions would they have a one-on-one audience with the artist during which they could register their opinions.

That was a good thing, because their opinions didn’t matter. Artists unappreciated in their time have gone on to become legends, precisely because they did not take advice. They worked the way they must work; that is to say, they remained true to themselves, and to their vision. They weren’t wrong to shut out the world…they were absolutely right, because it’s very often the world that has some catching up to do.

Now very few artists could achieve any kind of following at all without some kind of public presence, and a public presence today carries with it availability. Artists shouldn’t be personal entertainers, and yet we insist that they are. We don’t want to wait, we don’t want to be teased, and we don’t want to be disappointed. We hold artists personally accountable, and when we disagree with something, we tear them to shreds. It’s still the world that has the catching up to do, but we’re quick to destroy, and by the time we do catch up, that entire universe of artistic potential has been crushed or derailed.

Even when we do like something we tend toward destruction. Quentin Tarantino recently shelved The Hateful Eight, which was to have been his next movie project, because somebody saw it fit to leak the script. Not because they hated it…but because they could. We seek, and we destroy. We take a level of direct openness and transparency with our favorite artists that fans generations ago would have killed for, and we use it to kill anyway.

I do think there’s a debate to be had upon the merits of engaging with an audience. Certainly in some cases it seems to have worked out well…the DMX / George Zimmerman fight cancellation being a recent example of public outcry seeming to have turned a despicable publicity stunt into a rare moment of humble apology. There’s also The Venture Bros., whose pair of writers not only monitor online discussion but have openly spoken about ditching plotlines and resolutions that fans saw coming. While this level of organic response frustrates me, the fact is that the show is great, and for all we know it never would have achieved the highs that it has had the writers stuck to their original (apparently easily guessable) plans. Then, of course, there’s Ezra Pound, whose edits could well be the only reason we know T.S. Eliot today.

But, overall, I find it hard to believe that it’s constructive, or conducive to creating great art. Fans don’t know what they want; fans are fickle and reactionary on the whole. For everyone who quietly appreciates, fifty loudly rage.

Why? There’s certainly an awful lot of art that I don’t enjoy, and a lot of artists I make a point of avoiding, but I wouldn’t see the benefit in attacking them, in obstructing their plans, or of vocally detracting. The world is large. The world is varied. If an artist makes a choice you don’t agree with, the odds are good that there’s another artist making the opposite choice that you do agree with. There’s enough out there. It is no artist’s responsibility to appease his or her audience, regardless of what the modern culture of constant interconnectivity seems to suggest; it’s the audience’s job to follow the artists that they enjoy.

In the past, if an artist read negative reviews of his or her work and got upset, the onus was at least partially upon the artists. After all, you don’t need to read those. You can, but you realize you’re making a choice to do so.

Now it’s different. An artist wakes up to more messages from strangers than he or she does to messages from friends. That’s a scary imbalance, and it’s something I wouldn’t know how to address. Online, accessible socialization is increasingly mandatory for up-and-comers. Without it, how could you amass a fanbase today? But with it, won’t it get pretty tiresome trying to do the art you love when thousands of people you’ve never met are insisting you’re doing it wrong?

We lost Flappy Bird. To many people, that will mean nothing, and that’s okay. But that’s only one example; there’s no telling how much else we’ve lost, are losing, and will continue to lose by insistently stifling creativity. The Hateful Eight. Fez II. Whatever phantom episodes of The Venture Bros. never made it to production. All those unmade seasons of Chappelle’s Show. All those concerts Ryan Adams walked out of rather than deal with hecklers. That inconceivably long initial draft of The Waste Land.

Art is the one thing that makes this world tolerable. Well, that and love. Some would argue — and I’d be one — that they’re very similar concepts, and they’re both easy to destroy in the same way.

Let them be. If you don’t like it, move along to something you do like. Killing it gets you nowhere, and it just leaves the quiet, contemplative fans that much poorer for the loss.

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14 Responses

  • E[X] says:

    While there has always been some amount of interplay between artist and audience, for the most part this flowed in entirely one direction: downhill.

    I’d like to challenge this assertion. I’m no historian but I seem to recall that most artists in pre-industrial times depended on the patronage of some rich guy to live which meant that they had a direct audience that could not only complain but also actually follow up on death threats quite easily (both directly and indirectly).
    Leonardo was working for the local dictator’s family, Mozart complained about his employers and Chopin gave piano lessons to avoid having to deal with an audience.
    I think the idea of an author/audience separation developed from technological advancements in media: movable type printing, the gramophone, the radio, tv, etc made the audience of some (but only some) artists a big faceless grey mass that could be easily ignored.
    Even then small time performance artists are still booed off stage regularly.
    And even then Hideaki Anno and Kevin Smith got butthurt over fans reactions 10 years before twitter, facebook and everyone’s grandma was on the internet. And Stephen King wrote Misery in 1985, I’m sure his critics on Usenet were scathing.

    Also Fez 2 was a quarrel with journalists and Tarantino’s script was leaked by an actor, I don’t follow.

    • E[X] says:

      PS we will talk about this more when you are chained in my basement.

    • Philip J Reed says:

      “they had a direct audience that could not only complain but also actually follow up on death threats quite easily (both directly and indirectly).”

      Oh sure. By no means did I intend to suggest that artists never had a live audience to deal with. But there’s a difference between a benefactor (or a group of people that pay to attend a concert) and a mass of unsolicited, direct feedback from people you’ve never encountered.

      “Hideaki Anno and Kevin Smith got butthurt over fans reactions 10 years before twitter, facebook and everyone’s grandma was on the internet.”

      Certainly. But, again, it’s the volume that’s increased. Prior to Twitter, Facebook and other forms of direct correspondence, the artists had the option of seeking out or not seeking out the criticism. Obviously some did, and I stand by my assertion that the onus is at least partially on them for doing so.

      “Fez 2 was a quarrel with journalists and Tarantino’s script was leaked by an actor, I don’t follow.”

      Fez II was more than just the initial quarrel (otherwise it would have been cancelled immediately, while it wasn’t cancelled until the internet at large got involved in the conversation), but certainly you see the difference between a journalist years ago who might publish a think-piece in a magazine and one that tags and directly responds in real time to the comments of the artist. Not trying to say Fish wasn’t out of line (for the record I’m not on his side with that one) but it absolutely was a kerfuffle unique to the medium.

      Tarantino’s script was indeed leaked by an actor (at least, very likely so), but it speaks to the same issue: destruction for the sake of destruction. Seeing a chance to leverage the medium for the sake of some small action that results in the much larger loss of a piece of art that can stand over time.

      • E[X] says:

        But there’s a difference between a benefactor (or a group of people that pay to attend a concert) and a mass of unsolicited, direct feedback from people you’ve never encountered.

        What’s better between an audience of 10 that if displeased will kick you out of your house and an audience of 300 millions of which 0.1% will send death threats that get followed through so rarely that it doesn’t even figure in crime statistics?

        Certainly. But, again, it’s the volume that’s increased.

        The volume of the audience also increased enormously, if Mozart could have performed to the entire world at once he would have still had an audience less than a half of the audience of Angry Birds. I can’t find how many copies Flappy Birds sold but it’s not far fetched to imagine that it would be a number comparable to the size of europe entire population in 1750.

        Prior to Twitter, Facebook and other forms of direct correspondence, the artists had the option of seeking out or not seeking out the criticism. Obviously some did, and I stand by my assertion that the onus is at least partially on them for doing so.

        This is just your novelist’s privilege talking, performance artists never had this choice. Check your privilege. :)

        • Philip J Reed says:

          “What’s better between an audience of 10 that if displeased will kick you out of your house and an audience of 300 millions of which 0.1% will send death threats that get followed through so rarely that it doesn’t even figure in crime statistics?”

          The audience of 10 (or less) doesn’t get to hide behind a mask of anonymity, and is instead openly accountable for their words and actions, which leads to them choosing those words and actions more carefully. Also the death (or other) threat doesn’t have to be carried out in order to be significant for the purposes of this conversation. If it causes the artist to pull back, the art is lost, and it’s immaterial whether or not the threat was hollow.

          “The volume of the audience also increased enormously”

          Sure it did, but each artist is still only one person. The ratio has grown significantly. A popular artist years ago might have had a couple hundred fans to contend with, and it would take a significant amount of effort on their part to engage with him or her. Now it’s still one artist, but millions can reach that artist with a minimum of effort. The increase in volume is more than numerical.

          “This is just your novelist’s privilege talking, performance artists never had this choice. ”

          Are you suggesting that filmmakers, actors, and musicians don’t have a choice about whether or not to read their reviews? Unless you’re referring to live performances (and therefore not filmmakers or film actors), but I do think live audience feedback is on a different plane from anonymous harassment. I’m not saying heckling is constructive or anything (I say the opposite above), but at the very least it has the potential to self-correct. I’ve been in the audience with hecklers before, and people do their best to quiet them down. They can also be removed by management. And, of course, the artist has every right to simply walk off the stage, putting an end to the communication. It’s still not constructive, but I’d argue it’s a lot less destructive on the whole.

          • Sarah Portland says:

            But the performance artist DOES have a choice, as illustrated in 1964 by Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece”, in which she sits on a stage, and invites the audience members to cut her clothing and keep the pieces for themselves.
            “Traditionally, the artist’s ego is in the artist’s work. In other words, the artist must give the artist’s ego to the audience. I had always wanted to produce work without ego in it. I was thinking of this motif more and more, and the result of this was Cut Piece.

            Instead of giving the audience what the artist chooses to give, the artist gives what the audience chooses to take. That is to say, you cut and take whatever part you want; that was my feeling about its purpose. I went onto the stage wearing the best suit I had. To think that it would be OK to use the cheapest clothes because it was going to be cut anyway would be wrong; it’s against my intentions.

            I was poor at the time, and it was hard. This event I repeated in several different places, and my wardrobe got smaller and smaller. However, when I sat on stage in front of the audience, I felt that this was my genuine contribution. This is how I really felt.

            The audience was quiet and still, and I felt that everyone was holding their breath. While I was doing it, I was staring into space. I felt kind of like I was praying. I also felt that I was willingly sacrificing myself. ” (Citation: http://imaginepeace.com/archives/2680 )

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYJ3dPwa2tI

          • E[X] says:

            The audience of 10 (or less) doesn’t get to hide behind a mask of anonymity, and is instead openly accountable for their words and actions

            The Medici weren’t accountable to anyone but themselves. Besides, what are you going to do, sue everyone that tells you to jump off a cliff?

            Also the death (or other) threat doesn’t have to be carried out in order to be significant for the purposes of this conversation. If it causes the artist to pull back, the art is lost

            That’s the same as saying that the risk of a Gozilla attack doesn’t have to actually be real to affect you.
            It’s your fault if you let unlikely events condition you.


            “The volume of the audience also increased enormously”

            Sure it did, but each artist is still only one person. The ratio has grown significantly

            Yeah, that was my point. It’s the fact that the audience grew so large and distant thanks to technology that made it possible for some authors to ignore it. Technology gaveth, technology taketh away, maybe?

            Unless you’re referring to live performances

            I was.

            but I do think live audience feedback is on a different plane from anonymous harassment

            Phisically closer and harder to ignore.

            If you are already famous you can ignore twitter just like you could ignore everything else, Vince Gilligan has said he doesn’t read reviews until he’s done, if you listen to it and make it condition you it’s your problem 10 years ago like today. If you are not famous then you probably have to engage with an audience but that was always true.

            • Philip J Reed says:

              “The Medici weren’t accountable to anyone but themselves. Besides, what are you going to do, sue everyone that tells you to jump off a cliff?”

              Nobody’s holding the Medici up as shining examples of how to handle artists. Certainly there are examples of artists being mistreated, tormented, and killed throughout history. By and large, however, a one-on-one (or ten on one) face to face audience with somebody is going to result in a level of necessary self-regulation that simply isn’t there when anonymity is an option. And to address your second point: no, you stop making (or releasing) art, which is what’s being discussed here.

              “That’s the same as saying that the risk of a Gozilla attack doesn’t have to actually be real to affect you. It’s your fault if you let unlikely events condition you.”

              …no. Sorry, that absolutely is not the same thing. Genuine fear that a fictional lizard is going to crush your town is probably a sign of some kind of mental illness or psychological issue. Choosing to pull yourself out of the spotlight because you wake up to threats that target your loved ones is something very different entirely. And it’s nobody’s own fault if a wave of undeserved abuse upsets them; that’s a preposterous claim, and more than a bit insulting to anybody who has actually had to suffer such a thing, especially after pouring their heart, soul, time and sweat into a project they love. Are there examples of those that can handle it? Yes, absolutely…Conan has a whole recurring feature about that. Is it the artist’s fault if they can’t handle it? No. It is not.

              “It’s the fact that the audience grew so large and distant thanks to technology that made it possible for some authors to ignore it.”

              There have always been artists that could ignore it, and always been those that can’t. The increase in volume is significant, however, because as mentioned above, in the past an artist might have had to “ignore” a few dozen or hundred people at best. Now they may have to “ignore” several thousand, and that may well be beyond their threshold. In fact we’re seeing in many cases that it is.

              “Phisically closer and harder to ignore.”

              Temporary and easier to walk away from. If a heckler ruins a concert, yes, that’s bad. If you’re receiving constant harassment at all hours of the night, I don’t think that’s “easier to ignore.” But that’s beside the point, and I’m certainly not arguing that it’s better…I am arguing that it’s a bit different.

              “If you are already famous you can ignore twitter just like you could ignore everything else, Vince Gilligan has said he doesn’t read reviews until he’s done, if you listen to it and make it condition you it’s your problem 10 years ago like today. If you are not famous then you probably have to engage with an audience but that was always true.”

              Right. If you’re already famous and you read the reviews, the onus is at least partially on you, as I’ve said. If you’re not you do have to engage with audiences, and while that was always true it’s true in a different way today. Once again, engaging with smaller audiences that do not have direct contact with you (at least not easily, and almost never anonymously) is different from engaging today, where anybody can find you and harass you without fear of reprisal.

              The issue here, I think, is that this is being discussed as though it’s a hypothetical. The artist can do this, it’s always been that way, etc. But the problem is the attitude of negativity and abuse that’s resulting in actual works of tangible art being lost to history. It’s not a question of ifs and buts. It’s happening.

  • Sarah Portland says:

    Why? For power, of course.
    I’m not certain how it’s done elsewhere, but in art school, one must face the nightmare known as “group critique”. Depending on how many classes one is taking, and how often those classes meet, a single artist could go up against a group critique two or three times a week. It runs in this fashion: the class is given an assignment to complete, usually within that week, which is absolutely not enough time to make anything worthy of mention. The students arrive in class with their projects, and one by one, are asked to put the assignment up on the wall facing the class, who are usually sitting in a line. The artist is then asked to stand against the wall, explain their work, and receive criticism. I cannot stress the similarity to a firing squad enough here. The idea is that the teacher and other students will provide constructive criticism to help the student become a better artist. But believing that line would mean putting on some rose-colored glasses. In fact, I have never encountered a group critique where I left feeling confident in my skills as an artist. The best group critique I had began with the teacher asking when I was going to complete the piece (it was done), and ended when I had fully explained my concept, and she said “Well… I can’t fault your logic.” A student is asked to create work that contains a bit of their soul (and said students are chastised when the teacher and students feel that it does not), and is asked to stand next to it, representative, while others throw out harsh, unapologetic insults. I received “I hate this, but I don’t know why” at least once, and variants on that theme for years. My work was unilaterally hated by my peers. Sometimes, when I was sitting in tears in my studio later, friends from my classes would come by and reassure me that my work was good, but then would rip me to shreds when it was time for group critique. For the longest time, I asked myself why the teacher did nothing to stop the barrage of nasty, unhelpful comments, to not only myself, but to others as well. I finally determined that this was not an exercise in constructive criticism, but a way to weed out the weaker artists in the group, the ones who couldn’t handle the pressure, and to toughen the ones who could handle it. The students did it out of a sense of power. There are already too many artists to support the market. One less person to compete with post-graduation.
    People destroy others because they can. It gives them a sense of empowerment in a world where they feel they have very little control over most things. And in many cases, they can do so anonymously, without fear of being called out or chastised themselves.
    The wider world of art is changing as a whole. Many writers cut their teeth by writing and posting fanfic, purposefully looking for reviews, and hoping that they get at least a few well thought out comments about their craft among the dreck of people who will simply write “this sucked. you shud never rite again.” One of my painting mentors is working as part of the old system, where he creates work and turns it over to his gallerist, who then prices the work and sells it for him. He may have to attend the opening night of the show, and talk to potential patrons, but for the most part, he can choose whether or not to read reviews of his work afterward. Another of my mentors, a younger guy, encouraged us to take our craft to social media, posting work-in-progress photos to Facebook, and tweeting followers with the dates for a new show. I’m acquainted with one artist who shows almost entirely online alone.
    I think what I’m getting at is, the world is changing. The introverted artist is having to learn better social skills in order to adapt to having work available to a wider audience, including those who would troll them. For some, it is working very well. I have a friend who is active on Facebook, constantly updating with photos of her work, but is mousy in person, sometimes tripping over her own tongue in order to fully vocalize what she is thinking.
    For others, it is a struggle. I’ve read numerous articles lately about online threats occurring because the reader did not agree with the writer. This is a problem that needs to stop. It is one thing to post “I respectfully disagree”, and follow with a well-reasoned argument, and quite another to type out “Bitch, I know where you live, and I will come to your house and cut you!” It’s troubling. Local law enforcement are sometimes called, but they brush it off. They have no resources to follow up on it, and are not especially interested, as they typically decide that it isn’t anything to worry about.
    The difference is knowing when to take it at face value, and when to sigh, say “whatever, dude”, and block their ass.

  • RaikoLives says:

    Anonimity. Being told throughout our early lives that we are “special little snowflakes who are the most important” and, as Sarah said above, the feeling of power it gives to tear someone else down.

    The human nature that underlies this behaviour probably hasn’t changed over the course of human history, but the opportunity to do so has. Stephanie Meyer, of Twilight fame, had the same experience as Quentin Tarantino, having a draft of her book leaked online and she chose, then, to not continue. Tarantino may well have been more spiteful in cancelling his, or that may be just the image of himself he creates, but Meyer said she lost all passion for the project, which I do not blame her for either.

    It’s pretty much the same principals as the mindless rage that gets spewed via voice chat on Call of Duty and the like. A lack of respect for boundaries, for other people, and really a lack of respect for yourself to let your actions be so vile.

  • Enigmatic Nobody says:

    I’m not sure that there should be huge separation between the audience and the artist, at least not in terms of criticism. Perhaps the audience should be separated from the actual creation of the art (though this runs into a grey area when the art is being commissioned or otherwise invested or is being sold), but I would argue that all criticism done in a respectful manner even if the criticism is simply “I don’t really like it” is valid. It may not always be helpful; saying, “I don’t like it” may not help the artist improve but at the same time everyone has a right to their opinion and reaction to a piece of work should not be stifled. We certainly do not want our society to become a bunch of fools too afraid to voice an opinion that we allow the emperor to walk around nude while we praise him for the opulent clothes. I think part of the onus of being an artist is sifting through the reviews and determine which opinions should be listened to, which should be ignored, and when to stick with your guns and have enough confidence in your work to persevere through the criticism.

    I mean, though it’s romantic to think otherwise, at some point every artist had to have internalized some criticism and react accordingly; otherwise, an artist would be creating the same exact way as he or she did in kindergarten, which obviously isn’t the case. I also will be hard pressed to believe that one hundred years from now Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 will be considered a classic movie ahead of its time and that criticism of it during its conception and production (i.e. “Please, please don’t make the movie”) couldn’t have helped the film.

    Having said that, I think much of the problem with artists today especially those who take their works online is that the Internet has become essentially the electronic equivalent of Anne Wilkes, the character from the novel and the movie Misery. On the one hand, she had some good points and her criticism did help Paul Sheldon become a better writer. On the other hand, she also broke his legs, drugged him, and tried to kill him. It is kind of hard to ignore that part. Death threats over something as trivial as pulling a free application off the app store is completely unjustified. Short of actually being guilty of a truly heinous crime (maybe), nothing could justify that.

    I do think that the Internet at large should stop taking ownership of other people’s intellectual property. Share your opinion but don’t get angry if the artist doesn’t change his or her work because of you. You may be right, he or she may be wrong, but ultimately it is their work to do as he or she sees fit. The Internet at large seems to feel otherwise, though. “This work if ours,” the community says, “So we know what is best.” I think that sense of ownership is why you see people releasing other people’s scripts. Yes, the work may ultimately be presented to an audience, but it is not the audience’s, it is the artist’s. I mean, that’s part of the reason why copyright laws exist, right? Yet, I think, for whatever reason, a lot of fandoms feel otherwise which is what justifies this kind of behavior in their minds.

  • Great piece Phil!

    Another great example is Mass Effect 3. How in the world can the consumers demand that an artist rework the entire ending to such an expansive trilogy of video games? It’s astounding.

    But, it’s very much like you made out – there are very real underlining societal problems at play here. I think they are the very same problems that lead to mass homicides with our youth and the likes thereof. Am I saying that everyone that makes these threats are capable of doing something like that? Not even in the least, but to understand that we live in a society that parent’s continue to happily buy video games like Gran Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Ghost for thier young children as “toys”, only the naive can argue that there isn’t a problem.

    The question is – what is the problem? It certainly isn’t the video games, because those very same video games are clearly rated that they aren’t for children. Awhile back, there were viral videos of the latest Call of Duty online where young children were cursing others in mass. The media took it and ran to point the finger at the games. Yet, why aren’t they pointing the finger at the parents that are letting them play these games?

    The issue that I see today is the lack of dicipline and parenting. Now, I don’t recommend anyone sheltering their children from the outside world, but it isn’t that hard to keep a check on what your kids are doing with the “screens” in the homes today. But wait – what if the parents are doing the very same thing and these kids are, and only doing what they’ve learned from their parents? What if these kids see thier Mom’s nose stuck in her iPhone for 5-7 hours a day on Facebook and Instagram? What if entire families don’t even know how to have a conversation at a public dinner table any longer, because they can’t break away from the battery powered addiction that they have in their pocket?

    Technology is an awesome thing. But we live in a “do what you want” society that has evolved technology in ways that we didn’t even dream of. The problem isn’t the technology, the problem is how to “choose” to use the technology that we possess. The vast majority of the people that possess a smarthphone allow it to rule their lives. The frightening part is that the majority of them don’t even realize it.

    Do you answer your phone every single time it rings? Do you answer you phone when it rings when you’re talking to a physical person face to face? Do you pull out your phone when it gives a notification alert when you’re having a conversation with another person? Do you talk on your phone when a clerk is helping you to check out your items in a retail store?

    If the answer is “yes”, then you might want to think about whom is really in control – you or the smartphone. I had to do this for myself and I choose to be the master of my own technology thereafter. By doing so, even on this past Valentine’s Day, I sat and talking with my wife while enjoying a few Blue Moons and a steak at the bar in Outback Steakhouse, I watching couples barely even looking at each other because of those tiny little “screens” that are the masters of thier lives.

    Of course, this isn’t directed at you Phil, but here’s the question that I pose to everyone: if the “screens” are raising our adults today – who is raising our children?



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