The following appeared in the November edition of Chicago Parent.
A letter came home from my sons’ school last year suggesting that the devil himself was behind the video game phenomenon Fortnite. It was described as a dangerous epidemic. Crack cocaine for the middle school set!
My kids have engaged in many fads over the years: Angry Birds, Pokemon, Bakugan, Fidget Spinners, Bottle Flipping, and Dabbing to name a few. Some of these were all-consuming obsessions. They typically resulted in the standard school abolitionist letter warning that continued engagement could only result in a life of poverty and petty crime.
Not that I am a fan of video games. My boys were very late entrants into the whole video game arena, and even then, choices were carefully monitored. No blood. No prostitutes. No brain matter.
I initially put the kibosh on Fortnite because guns were involved. But after a while, I realized there was also communication! The boys implemented teamwork and strategy to win.
For the last several years, I’ve noticed a depressing shift in behavior. Once rambunctious boys whom I had to shush in the car were now zombie-like pre-teens staring blankly at their phones.
I rejoiced at the return of banter. Of joking. Of kids being kids.
Then there was the dancing. Never before in recorded history have so many boys suddenly mastered an arsenal of choregraphed and somewhat ridiculous dance steps. There was The Floss, The Shoot, Best Mates, and The Default Dance. Sure, I might have preferred an injection of the occasional Tango or Waltz, but beggars can’t be choosers.
People criticized the atmosphere and implied violence.
I then reminded them that Pac-Man was a cannibal. And the ghosts were clearly members of the occult.
As is true with most red hot fads, Fortnite interest is waning, another casualty of fickle kids. But unlike the whole bottle-flipping craze which left me twitchy, I am a little sad to see this one go.
For once, my boys actually danced like nobody was watching.
In between building panic walls.