The latest trend is parents hiring professional coaches for their kids to help them win at the 100-player free-for-all video game Fortnite. Contracting sites like Sensei and Bidvine will outfit kids with professional tips to anywhere from $20 per hour to $50 and higher.
I heard someone on a podcast defending this practice, explaining that Fortnite is the current social sphere of youth culture, so if you can't play well, your standing, popularity, and respect from peers is diminished.
Obviously I think this is insane.
Every generation has a Fortnite.
Every generation has a social sphere in which they must compete and survive.
When I was a kid, social status in my town was determined by things like your ability to play basketball and baseball. Your talent on a musical instrument. The car that you drove. Your skill in the arcade. Your ability to punch another human being. Your ability to make people laugh. Your bravery in social situations.
Teenagers who played basketball well, drove a Camaro, quoted Saturday Night Live skits with perfect comedic timing, and played the guitar were on the top of the food chain.
But no parent was hiring anyone a private baseball coach. No one was receiving lessons on how to complete level 12 of Pacman or finish Dragon's Lair. We weren't getting tips on how to deliver a punch line or land a punch.
Most of us were buying our own cars. With our own money. Learning to play musical instruments at school. Figuring out where to hit someone best through trial and error.
Hard work. Practice. Hours worked. Time spent.
Hiring professionals so that your child can play an online video game better and therefore be perceived by others as a more tactical, accurate, and lethal pretend soldier is dumb. It's coddling on a new and previously unimagined plane. It's an attempt to bubble-wrap a childhood in an arms race of guaranteed happiness and success.
It's silly and stupid. Ridiculous.
Can you just imagine:
"Sorry guys, I got to run. My Fortnite coach is meeting me online in an hour. I'm learning how to shoot better so you guys will think I'm cooler and I can be more popular."