Pentagon Publication: Young People Getting Injured At Basic Training Because Of 'Nintendo Generation'
from the okay-boomer dept
If any take has been evergreen over the past few decades, it’s that video games are the source of all the problems with the youth these days. If you want to take that further, you can boil it down to, “that thing kids enjoy but I didn’t grow up with is the reason why everything is terrible.” You see this all over the place. The New York Times thinks the pandemic made all the kids play all the video games all the time creating all the problems. Established politicians say video games are the reason we have gun violence in America. Even cute little fascists like Josh Hawley, who appears to be what would happen if you took an image of Slender Man and gave him human-like features, says that video games contribute to a loss of manliness in America.
So it may not come as a particular surprise that some in the Pentagon think that youth playing video games creates problems for the military as well. But it should be surprising that anyone in the Pentagon would want to blame the “Nintendo generation” for basic training injuries due to — checks notes — weak skeletons.
The article, titled “Why Today’s ‘Gen Z’ is at Risk for Boot Camp Injuries” interviewed Army Maj. Jon-Marc Thibodeau—a clinical coordinator in charge of medical readiness at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
When asked about the youth of today, Maj. Thibodeau was straightforward. “The ‘Nintendo Generation’ soldier skeleton is not toughened by activity prior to arrival, so some of them break more easily,” he said.
This wild assertion is backed up by anecdotes from a therapist at an army hospital who talks about some of the injuries she sees occurring in basic training. Notably, no fully formed studies run by the Pentagon are cited. Also notable is that many of the injuries are soft-tissue injuries, which have nothing to do with the strength of someone’s skeleton. It’s also notable that this take coming from the military isn’t especially novel: JFK lamented the softness of Americans in 1960, as the Vice article notes.
This all has pure “get off my lawn” vibes. First, the “Nintendo generation” isn’t attending basic training these days, because that was my generation and I’m 40 years old. I’ll also suggest that this may not be the message you want to deliver to a youth group that you’re actively courting to join the military. And, finally, I noticed a complete lack of acknowledgement as to how much of active “fighting” these days utilizes technology and methods of control of that technology that damned sure looks like something closer to playing a video game compared with scaling a manufactured wall. Drones, anyone?
And it’s not as though everyone in the DoD agrees with Thibodeau’s hot take.
Not everyone in the military thinks the younger generation is soft. Retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, former head of Special Operations Command, once said that anyone calling Millennials soft had never “seen them in a firefight in Afghanistan.”
Despite Maj. Thibodeau’s problems with the Nintendo Generation, the Pentagon has been actively courting them over the past few years by dropping millions of dollars on schemes to make Navy sailors and Army soldiers into esports stars on Twitch. The Nintendo Generation didn’t care for it much.
Nor will youth that will make up the future fighting forces care for the Pentagon’s messaging here, I don’t think. This stuff is real easy to say, but unless the Pentagon wants to back it up with real data, this is simply the armed forces shooting itself in the foot. I learned not to do stuff like that… by playing video games.