One of the first novels I read was “The Naked Sun”  by Isaac Asimov.
In a nutshell it depicts the contrast between an overcrowded Earth whose population lives basically underground in close resemblance of an ant mole, both architecturally and socially, and Solaria – a planet long ago colonized by humans who now live individually, with almost no personal contact between them, except for long Skype-like machine intermediated interactions.
The Earth cannot evolve any further because they have locked themselves in a corner in search for safety inside the herd and Solaria cannot do anything more than survive because the inhabitants do not have even the slightest idea of what close cooperation means.

Nowadays there is a hot debate about video games. One party deplores the fact that the young generation is morally perverted by the high level of violence they are exposed to while others point to the fact that ancient tales are even more violent and that there is no difference between spoken, written, seen on screen (cinema and then TV) and video-played violence.

Yes and no.
The level of violence might be the same but the level of ‘immersion’ is different.
For most of (pre)human history everything happened in the ‘public square’, including punishment. It was customary that everybody attended even the most gruesome executions, children included, as lessons for the future. This had consequences: life was cheap in those times because it could be ended by the whims of the powerfuls of the day but everybody was fully aware of the practicalities (excruciating pain) of losing it and – most important – that there were ways of avoiding it: social cooperation by obeying the rules.
Afterwards, when printing and later radio, cinema and TV were invented, this level of immersion was no longer necessary and executions retreated inside the prison walls. People read about what rules bending meant and discussed about it among themselves. Human direct interaction was not as intense as directly seeing an execution but reading about it managed to preserve a sufficient level of impact while discussing about it preserved a sane level of compassion with both victim and criminal.
The advent of the video games changed all this. The virtual world influences real life two ways: it robs people of ‘the practical touch’ and of time otherwise spent interacting with real people.
A real execution was indeed gruesome but it left a powerful impression. If you read about one, and the writer is any good, you are left with a not so intense experience but sometimes with a more lasting one, precisely because the writer knew his job. If you witness ten deaths in a 15 minutes video game you start to not care anymore, once because of the reset button and secondly because the human brain is set to discard stimuli than come in a steady flow, for instance we stop feeling a certain smell after a while or we stop hearing the constant hum of the engine when enjoying a cruise on a ship.
Even more nefarious is the fact that young people do not interact directly as more as they used to. Playing with other children with minimum or even no adult supervision is the best and fastest way to acquire social skills and to learn empathy. Nowadays shrinking families (one or two children per family drastically reduces the number of playmates) and increased focus on safety means that children no longer play amongst themselves but in an environment closely monitored or eve sometimes suffocated by adult intervention . Video gaming only meant that even this closely monitored interaction with one’s peers almost disappeared and was replaced by interactions with a machine…

I’m afraid that this may be one of the explanations for why nowadays nuances are becoming so hard to find, everything is treated as in ‘black and white’ and empathy has become a dirty word describing the feelings of a ‘sissy’.

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