By Jacque Gorelick of Write Where I Am
Julia Winslow didn’t realize she was, in fact, ruining her son’s life by not allowing him to play the popular, first-person shooter game, Fortnite.
“When he told me he couldn’t survive without Fortnite, I thought he was being dramatic. I had no idea that by not playing a video game, his life would truly become unlivable.”
Her son, 11-year-old Eli Winslow, has endured insurmountable pain and suffering as a result of his mother’s cruel decision to ban first-person shooter games until he’s older.
Being the only documented sixth grader on Earth without Fortnite has not only been a hardship for the Winslow boy, but it’s also made relating to peers nearly impossible. Friends say they try, but they can’t connect with Eli anymore.
“Um, we used to have a lot in common, but now we’re just so different,” claims former best friend, Todd “Loot Chest” Lincoln.
To his mother’s dismay, friends corroborate Eli’s claims that “no one talks to me anymore,” and, “I am socially discluded!” (Because of his current emotional state, Mrs. Winslow doesn’t have the heart to tell Eli it’s “excluded.”)
“We can’t really talk to him anymore; it’s like he speaks a totally different language,” adds another FFBFO (Friend From Before Fortnite Ostracization), lifting his arms into a dab and making odd, hip-shifting movements to punctuate his thought.
“Like when we tell him we’re saving V-bucks for some new skins, he has no idea what we’re saying,” adds another FFBFO. “He doesn’t even know about llamas! We talked about finding one the other day and Eli went on and on about a petting zoo he visited with his little brother. That dude is living in an alternate reality!”
“If I can’t squad up with him, I don’t see how we can be friends,” said another peer, bopping around as though music were playing, swaying his arms rhythmically to a nonexistent beat.
Even his teachers have caught Fortnite Fever. “He was a gregarious and engaged member of the class, but lately he’s aloof and quiet,” notes Agnes Miller, Eli’s homeroom teacher. “The other day I led Orange Justice as a movement break. Everyone joined in – except Eli – who just stared blankly as if he’d never heard of emotes. Is that possible? It’s not possible, right?”
Lunchtime is challenging for Eli. While he eats alone, several FFBFOs sit nearby, laughing and talking about their plans to “loot up and get a Victory Royale” after school.
“It’s obvious she doesn’t care about me,” Eli observes of his mother, picking at the shrimp cocktail with lemon wedges Mrs. Winslow threw together for his lunch. “She only cares about stupid Common Sense Media and gun violence,” he adds, biting into an organic, locally-grown nectarine.
After school, Mrs. Winslow reflects on her son’s solitary lunches as he plays basketball in the driveway with some neighborhood boys. “They seem to still like him, but he insists as long as he’s not allowed Fortnite, he has NO friends. Of course, it’s all my fault, so I feel just terrible.”
The middle-aged suburban mother’s eyes well with tears as she realizes the gravity of branding her son a social outcast for the remainder of elementary school – and inevitably a large portion of junior high. “Somehow I endured being the only 12-year-old in the mid-80s not to own a pair of Guess Jeans, and his father managed to walk to school uphill in a snowstorm every day. I figured Eli could make it through 6th grade without Fortnite. I realize now, he’s right. It’s just not the same.”
Asked to comment on Eli’s bleak quality of life without Fortnite, his father replied, “Isn’t that some sort of Atari game? When I was a boy I didn’t even have Atari. I saved my quarters and walked two miles, through fields of poison oak, to play Donkey Kong at the local Pizza Hut.”
Other parents in the community eagerly weighed in on Eli’s unfortunate circumstances. “This was completely avoidable. It’s not like his mother didn’t know the consequences,” cautioned a friend of Mrs. Winslow’s who asked to remain anonymous.
“Our Dylan was adamant his life would be ruined if we didn’t let him join in,” adds a neighbor down the street, whose son, Dylan, has not been spotted outdoors in weeks. “All the children have been very clear about the socially devastating consequences of not being allowed to play Fortnite.”
As a surprise to the community, Mrs. Winslow’s nomination for “Worst Mother of The Year” hasn’t weakened her stance on the game.
“I’ve never won anything, so it would be kind of an honor. Though if you ask me, it’s Mrs. Killjoy’s year – I heard she passes out toothbrushes on Halloween.”
After his compelling, “Everyone else is doing it!” argument failed, Eli has grown desperate. As a last resort, he attempts to persuade his mother with logic.
“I’ve tried explaining to my mom that Fortnite is totally not addicting. The main reason I need to play is because it’s literally the only thing anyone talks about anymore and I don’t want to be discluded.”
About the Author
Jacque lives in California with her two boys (lively), two dogs (rescues), one cat (indifferent), and her husband (patient). When she’s not chasing children and crossing off to-do lists, she can be found consuming large amounts of caffeine, or hiding from her kids, writing. Her work has appeared in Popsugar, Scary Mommy, HuffPost and more. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and www.writewhereiam.com. She’s currently working on a memoir.