Growing Up Isn’t Necessarily Growing Out

In the last couple of years, I’ve noticed some of my favorite hobbies have fallen by the wayside (with a brief blip of reignited comic book collecting). My fascination with sports, and fantasy baseball in particular, my obsession with video games, and my voracious appetite for science-fiction and fantasy literature, seem to have cooled in their ardor. I am 37-years-old, and one might contend that I’m growing “out” of such things.

Rather, I think I’m growing up in the ways that matter and in the ways that people maybe should consider striving to do no matter what age they find themselves living until. For instance, my lack of interest in sports doesn’t diminish what I still love about the games. I can easily watch the Knicks or the Yankees play if they happen to be on when it’s convenient for me. But, I also keep gaining a larger understanding for the business and culture that surrounds sports in America that prevents me from embracing it without critique or unconditional affection. Rape culture, homophobia or some other conservative agendas that surround the hoopla that is America’s celebration of athletics makes it difficult to be absorbed into the purity of the game itself. I understand that great social change can happen from the field of sport, but with the kind of money and power that comes from the modern sports entertainment industry, there’s a sense of entrenchment for the culture that reaches all the way down to the activities of children now. I have a hard time getting behind that.

Video games also have similar issues, though the combat may be more fierce since the hold of machismo and controlled violence is more virtual than real. Since games as a creative endeavor continues to become more democratic through the changing technologies, even with the same kind of financial stakes that afflict sports, I foresee more positive changes, and made rapidly, in the near future. That being said, the toxic culture of gamer entitlement, particularly online, can be a huge turnoff, and of course, there are always other things competing for my time and money in the meantime.

The amount of time I read, however, is almost entirely about time. I remember the golden years of burning through two or three novels a week as a teenager and a college student. That rate kept shrinking and shrinking as other responsibilities set in and other needs took hold. However, I try and keep up with the doings of favorite authors or just follow general news, such as by listening to the Sword & Laser podcast. If there’s anything that really turns me off about this world its the stories of the too-slow attrition of the entitled, old guard of the genre who still feel the need to make pronouncements excluding marginalized people, a grand hypocrisy considering the marginalization of the genre itself from “serious” literature (and not unlike the problems faced by sports and video games).

Three elements that made up a bulk of my interests as a young man are essentially not the same in my view as they once were. This is natural, but not in the way someone outside of these sub-cultures might think. This isn’t just about the continuing growth of being a responsible adult and putting aside the “childish” things of youth. After all, I still love the core of these pastimes, and I largely don’t give a damn that some of my peers and contemporaries can still deride or look askance at what I like to do with my leisure time. The problem isn’t that I’m growing old, but that the industries surrounding my hobbies are still growing up themselves. I just feel like they need to pick up the pace a little to catch up.

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