The world is changing at a faster pace all the time. When I was nine years old Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock was first published (1970). I did not read it, but its subject was often the discussion during my teenage years, including High School. It examined the effects of rapid industrial and technological changes upon the individual, the family, and society. It talked about how these industrial and technological changes would be occurring at an exponential (faster and faster) rate. Mr. Toffler was right in that prediction.
My parents grew up in a much different environment than I did in the 60’s and 70’s. They had very little television (actually neither of my parents had any televisions in their homes growing up). They had relatively few toys and spent much of their time playing outside with other kids. They rarely went shopping except to buy the necessities of life and ate almost every meal of the year at home. Eating out was an extreme rarity.
My generation had already changed considerably. We had a TV with several channels available to us and even had a 26” colour TV during my teenage years. My parents’ generation accused us of spending too much time in front of the “idiot box” (we probably did). We had more toys and ate out (mostly cheaper fast food joints) once or twice a month. We still played outside quite a bit of the time though. I spent much of my youth in the bush building forts and playing pick-up games of hockey, baseball, soccer, and basketball.
My children’s generation (who are now grown and at the point of having their own kids) had two or three televisions in the house with cable. They had video games and computers. Between those opportunities, they spent much more time in front of screens than I did as a child. We ate out and ordered in quite a bit. Fridays were pizza night, but that wasn’t the only meal during the week that wasn’t cooked by us. They still spent time playing outside, but not nearly as much as I did, but more than many of their friends. We signed them up in organized sports because we wanted them to be outside and get exercise.
I’m not sure what will happen with the current generation, the ones that are still children today. I know organized sports participation has severely dropped over the last years and I rarely every see kids playing in yards or parks. I do “see” lots of kids on things like Facebook and such sharing wonderful things about their latest video game exploits. Our teenage kids we are raising think nothing at all about purchasing food or drinks while out “shopping” or hanging out at the mall practically every day. I don’t even want to think about how many hours they are spending in front of video screens of some sort or another. Practically every show or movie ever made is available to them at their fingertips and they seem to watch their favourites over and over again.
OK, that was very interesting but since this is a paintball blog, let’s talk about paintball. I still remember very well my first time playing paintball. I remember the thrill of sneaking around and trying to hit an opponent with my paintballs when I finally found them. I remember the thrill of having paintballs whiz by my head. I remember thinking that this was much like the games we played outside as kids, only more realistic and more exciting. I couldn’t wait for the next game and when the day was done left with a big smile on my face wondering when I could do it again.
In the last decade or so, paintball has decreased in popularity (participation)and there are many speculated reason for this decrease, each one having merit. I believe that one of the biggest reasons is the fact that as they years have passed, kids growing up have spent less and less time playing outside and using their imagination. Even when the kids do play paintball, they don’t have the same memories that I had when I first played the game. They didn’t spend hours on end outside building forts and playing tag and Hide and Go Seek. It might be fun and exciting for them, but so is playing the newest video game they just bought and they can play that in the comfort of their home without having to go outside and getting dirty. They are used to entertaining themselves at home in front of their video screens. The world, and people, have changed...and it’s not going to change back.