Oh, hey. I’m not a teenager anymore. That’s kinda neat.
Yesterday my brother and I had a brief conversation about U.S. involvement in Syria and the re-involvement in Iraq. The conversation was spurred by my reading a news headline from NY Times about the air strikes in Iraq on Friday. We talked about the pros and cons of troops on the ground versus drone strikes.
Now, it’s the next day and he is sitting in the living room playing a first person shooter game. When I walked into the living room my brother was looking at the larger battleground on a map; I suppose to figure out his best plan of attack. The image was showing explosions that seemed to be going on in real time.
My brother is seventeen. I only bring up his age because of its importance in the matter of influences. He’ll be graduating high school next year, and as of late he’s been talking of going into the air force. He’s has always had a fondness for machines in flight, and like most of our generation he’s grown up with a desensitization to violence, however, that’s precisely what piqued my interest. My brother is going to be of voting age next year. He’s also going to have to register for the draft. These two things come as a pair for boys when they turn 18 in the U.S. He has grown up surrounded by violence: on the media, in video games, and at school. Violence that doesn’t scare him. Violence that he is so used to that he spends his free time viewing exposing himself to it. As a female I’m lucky. There isn’t a larger societal pressure on me to take pleasure in violence, in fact, I am supposed to cover my eyes, and squeal at the slightest violent gesture on screen, but not my brother. He is expected to be tough, and in our capitol tough means to enjoy meaningless violence.
Now, I fully support my brother’s decision to follow whatever path he so chooses when he graduates. I don’t buy into the cookie cutter ideal of high school, college, job, but my disconcertion is rooted in the alternative cookie cutter idea of high school, military, dead or lifelong PTSD. I don’t want him to make his decision because he has a false disconnected perception instilled by capitalistic intentions that violence is fun. People dying no matter where or how or by whose firearm is never fun, and it’s certainly not without consequences on any scale.