I have the absolute joy to have been gifted two beautiful sons. My oldest lad, Alessandro, is 19 and studying medicine in the UK. Luca, 16, is in Year 11 at school.
This is a little story about Luca.
Luca loves reading and English is pretty close to being his favourite subject at school. He likes writing and over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading his creations.
Back when he was 12, he wrote a text…it was a prose poem…that took my breath away. “I love the way you love the night” was whipped up in less than 30 minutes but it remains a reference I go back to again and again when I want to be uplifted in the face of all the silly things happening in the world.
This year, he produced “A moment in time” and while the writing is terrific, its graphic, blood-filled description of war and battle left me saddened, even moderately disturbed. I wondered where it had come from.
At the time when Luca wrote, “I love the way you love the night” he was proud to have been recognised as the kid with the least screen-time out of his whole year group. Now, aged 16, I suspect he’s still at the lower end of the spectrum but in the intervening years, he has been exposed to violent video games and YouTube movies and my guess is that the graphic descriptions in “A moment in time” have at least in part, come from there.
I thought about this in light of my “Broken Boys” Cooee! podcast and blog and I’ve created another short Cooee! podcast here where I read both stories and ponder what it means. I don’t have the answer but I do think young minds are affected by violent video games and movies and this is a worry. OK, I’m not the first to say that and perhaps I’m reading too much into the contrasting stories, but the “then” and “now” difference goes beyond just a developing maturity. Luca could have chosen to write a love story under the “A moment in time” theme, for example.
As I say in the podcast, I’m not worried about Luca. He’s a great kid and that he could write so poignantly and beautifully with such graphic insight into despair and the human condition, at his age, is really impressive. He has a gift for writing that I’m urging him to work on and develop.
I asked Luca for permission to share his stories in this Cooee! podcast and I think it’s incredibly courageous of the young lad to grant it. I’m proud of him. There’s one point I want to make here that contradicts one of my musings in the podcast. I mention the article about the NASA research suggesting that our education system dumbs down kids’ imaginative genius (I highlighted this article in my Broken Boys Cooee! podcast). Upon reflection, I don’t think that’s what’s happened here. If anything, Luca’s imagination has taken flight with “A moment in time” and he’s powerfully used it to describe a scene he’s, thankfully, never experienced in real life.
In the broader context of the broken boys discussion and men’s toxic behaviour, I don’t think we can pin all the blame unequivocally on screen time and exposure to terrible violence but I think it plays a role. The contrast between “I love the way you love the night” written at 12 and “A moment in time” written at 16 did disturb me but perhaps that’s just because I’m a worrying father? That’s as much analysis as I want to do to be honest but I do invite you to listen to the podcast and I hope it prompts some thinking and reflection for you.