The following letter came across the transom from a listener to Barnhardt Podcast #092:
Early in the last show you were discussing the average age of your listeners skewing towards the older end of the spectrum, and that you’d like to hear from any young listeners/readers that you have, especially regarding their media habits.
I’ve been a fan of your content since about the age of 18, when i was still making the journey from baptized paganry to true-blue Catholicism. You were an important part of that conversion and I’d like to thank you. Now I am a 20 year-old married man with one baby girl on the way, thanks be to God.
Regarding media usage, I’ve certainly cut down in the past years, following your recommendation to ditch social media and TV, and whittling away at my video game time as well. Frankly, I never liked social media in the first place, as I’ve always been quite the nerd and never had many friends, so I suppose that makes me a bit of an outlier. However, video games have been my long-standing media struggle since I was a kid. Specifically, fantasy role-playing games where you take the role of a knight or wizard or what have you, have always provided a sense of security and escapism to me. When I was a youngling it was about ignoring a world where I wasn’t well-liked, but now that I’m an adult it seems like an escape from the horrors of the modern world itself. It’s a constant struggle to make good use of my time, but with the help of the Rosary and the Sacraments it’s something I’ve slowly been overcoming. I’m not sure how common this particular video game pathology is, but those are my two-cents on the media question anyway. Thank you for having Masses offered for everyone and fighting the good fight, and I hope we can meet in heavenly glory some day.
A Young Fan
What an outstanding and encouraging letter. Bravo to “Young Fan” for realizing that his video game habit is problematic. Let me offer a bit of tough love in order to give “Young Fan” something to chew on:
Young Fan, you are a husband and father now. You are a man, not a child, and certainly not that modern monstrosity, the “man-child”. Escapism, game-playing, and certainly the deplorable wasting of time is no longer acceptable. Speaking as a woman, even though I have never been married, let me assure you with complete certainty that for your wife, and eventually your children, the sight of you sitting, zombie-like, staring blankly into a gaming screen will be the OPPOSITE OF ADMIRABLE. Frankly, for a young father, a young Christian man to flee from reality and his responsibilities as a man, of which ENGAGING AND INTERACTING WITH YOUR FAMILY AT OR NEAR THE TOP OF THE LIST, is pathetic, and the epitome of effeminacy. I think you know this already.
If your video games are on a gaming console, THROW THE ENTIRE CONSOLE AWAY. I’m not joking. Put the damn thing in the trash where it belongs.
If your games are on your PC or laptop, delete them and throw away any physical software media.
When I quit television in February ARSH 2009, I went cold turkey. It is the best way to do it. Just end it. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
This decision will make a massive, massive difference not only in your marriage, but also in the lives of your children. Think of the HOURS and HOURS and HOURS that you will spend being present to your family as the head of the household, and the head of your marriage – conversations and adventures that you will have with your wife and kids that WILL NOT HAPPEN if you continue to “game”, and in doing things that help you to advance in sanctity, such as reading, outdoor activities, keeping physically fit, developing hobbies and skills, developing in-person friendships with other men and families, and, of course, prayer.
You can do it. Be assured of our prayers for you, your wife, your baby daughter in the oven, and all of your children yet-to-come. Be ADMIRABLE: admirable to your wife, and admirable to your children.
Don’t fantasize about being a great man: ACTUALLY BE A GREAT MAN.
I’ll conclude with St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Quando autem factus sum vir, evacuavi quae erant parvuli.
But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.