Identity

Talk to anyone under the age of twenty-five, and you're bound to get something like this:

"I was, like, walking down the street…"

Um, were you like walking down the street or were you actually walking down the street? Why do young people incessantly talk in this fashion? (actually I'm guilty at times as well…) Has life, like, evolved into one great big simile? Is it just a simulation?

I walk to class today and I see a shirt that reads "I am Brad Pitt." Only two steps later, I run into a hat that blares "I AM Canadian," the slogan of Molson Breweries. We all are something, but there seems to be less clarity as to what that something is with each passing day, even as we desperately try to identify ourselves to each other.

This growing disconnect with reality was brilliantly captured by Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman in the 1999 movie Being John Malkovich, a tale about a couple of average people who find a portal that takes them into the mind of the famous actor, and are able to take over the controls for — you guessed it — 15 minutes.

But wait, isn't that what virtual sport is about? What is it that kids really want to do when they see Vince Carter or Randy Moss on television? They want to be able to fly, to experience the adrenaline of the game-winning play, to catch a glimpse of life at the pinnacle. And modern media technologies are making that dream more of a reality every day, which results in people that are less grounded in reality, and therefore less able to cope with reality's demands.

Want to, like, see a scary version of how this whole thing turns out? I've got another movie for you: the 1995 action mystery Strange Days.

Fortunately, the Internet offers us a different lesson: it turns out that people want to communicate with like-minded others, rather than someone they have nothing in common with. This could be the one thing that saves amateur sport and recreation.

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