Let’s Not Equate Porn and Gaming

Thanks to a Rick Warren tweet, I ran across this article that’s racing across the internet.  Called “The Demise of Guys: How video games and porn are ruining a generation,” it begins:

Is the overuse of video games and pervasiveness of online porn causing the demise of guys?

Increasingly, researchers say yes, as young men become hooked on arousal, sacrificing their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of getting a tech-based buzz.

Every compulsive gambler, alcoholic or drug addict will tell you that they want increasingly more of a game or drink or drug in order to get the same quality of buzz.

Video game and porn addictions are different. They are “arousal addictions,” where the attraction is in the novelty, the variety or the surprise factor of the content. Sameness is soon habituated; newness heightens excitement. In traditional drug arousal, conversely, addicts want more of the same cocaine or heroin or favorite food.

The consequences could be dramatic: The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.

As a gamer (In fact, one of my proudest media moments is this profile by an online gaming magazine), I cringed.  Look, I know that many, many men and boys spend too much time gaming.  There are also many, many men and boys who spend too much time watching television, playing golf,  or obsessing over sports (and sometimes all of the above) — you name the diversion, and you’ll find people who indulge in excess.  But it’s a category error to equate games and porn.  To do so exaggerates the danger of games and minimizes the evil of porn.  So if I stay up too late Saturday night playing Diablo 3 (and I probable will!), is that remotely comparable to downloading porn?  Simply put, overuse of video games is destructive.  Any use of porn is sinful. What’s next?  An article proclaiming that women are ruined by adultery and Pinterest?

We must, however, do a better job working out the relationship between balance and absolutes.  How many people, having proven themselves incapable of achieving proper balance now argue for absolutes?  No television!  No games!  No carbs!  Conversely, we have so much trouble with the true absolutes — particularly sexual absolutes — that I’ve seen Christians more forgiving and tolerant of unscriptural divorces than they are of bad TV or even inefficient automobiles or non-organic food purchases.

Yes, it’s absolutely true that we guys have problems.  And it’s absolutely true that by many measures we’re approaching a moral and cultural crisis in young men.  But porn is pure poison while a good game is more like a bowl of ice cream: delightful in moderation but destructive in excess.