In the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there was an episode entitled “Hollow Pursuits”. Basically, this episode is about a new crew member to the Enterprise who is a bit shy, named Barclay. He’s what we would consider a bit socially awkward. He isn’t able to talk to be people without getting nervous. He’s very intelligent, but he isn’t able to convey his thoughts and ideas. He’s always late to work, and people aren’t really sure how to deal with him. They would just rather get along with their work without him.
As the show progresses, it comes to the head engineer, LaForge’s attention that Barclay is always late, so he decides to find out what the problem is. Come to find out, Barclay has been spending all of his time on the holodeck, creating simulations with the crew members in order to feel comfortable around them. He hides in this fantasy world rather than facing reality.
This hit somewhat of a nerve for me, because I see this happening almost everyday, just not in the form of a holodeck. More and more young adults are choosing to hide away from reality in the virtual world through video games. I graduated in 2008 and many of the students of my graduating class suffered from this problem. They would spend hours upon hours just playing video games instead of doing homework or going to class. In fact, my fiance’s roommate in college had a record of playing DDO for 20 hours straight. How can people function like this?
It’s not just college students that suffer from this addiction, or ailment, or whatever you want to call it. I have seen adults who would rather sit on their computers, living life in the virtual world, rather than socializing with real people, or even getting a job and making a living.
It just amazes me that this subject was touched upon in the 1980s, even though I don’t believe it was that big of a problem at that point in time (of course, I could be wrong, considering the fact that I did not grow up in the 80s). I can understand the temptation of being able to live another life, a life that seems exciting and exotic, rather than living in reality, but this can turn into an epidemic quite quickly. It’s a dangerous thing… and I do believe we need to be made aware of it, especially when it starts to harm us economically, socially, and academically.