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Student 24's picture

I didn't find Henig's article to be overly revolutionary in terms of how I personally view the act of play, but it definitely diverted my attention to something which, upon some thought, is more disturbing than all the frightening and awful things we realise that kids do and say to each other when they play. Bullying, name-calling, fighting, lying... it is certainly really terrifying to see that children have it in them to truly be so mean...

And yet, there is not the same let-down, horror, or shock when adults behave in the same, or worse, manner. What brought this to my attention was the ease and calmness with which the lab tests and brain surgeries and experiments on rats were described. I took a moment to step back and look at the situation.

Adults collecting and breeding rodents. Controlling the environment in which they are raised. Slicing open their brains, poking around inside their little craniums – and why? Because “science demands that if there are important long-term benefits to play, they must be demonstrated.”

“That is why studies of play-deprived rats are so fascinating.”

I'm not even an animal rights activist or anything. I don't like animals, and as far as I'm concerned, I don't really care what happens to them. But looking at this whole situation objectively, I can't help but feel disgusted. If we saw a six-year-old boy playing with dead animals, cutting them open because he was curious to see what was inside, we'd immediately be horrified, admonish him, and try to keep him from continuing such perverted and sick activities. Yet there are adults whom we pay and respect to do exactly this. Is it different for an adult to enjoy the gore and messiness of scientific pursuit than for a child to act on his natural curiosities?

My problem isn't using animal testing as a means of searching for answers in science and medicine. My problem is using it in this context. Play. Children's play. Even adolescent and adult play, yes. But we are taking a thing such as leisure and fun and treating it in some morbid, science-fiction-y way to see if we are naturally programmed to desire play?


“Imaginative play, even when it involves mucking around in the phantasmagoria, optimist, a creative thinker, a person who has a sense of power and control.”

I think we should approach play and leisure with our own minds and brains, rather than with those of dead, lab-bred rodents – with which I, as a human being person, feel I have nothing in common – because the human race is not a science experiment. We need to stop freaking out about recess in schools or the change in playing patterns across generations and just remember we all have free-will and we should trust ourselves to manage free time in a way we feel is best for us. It doesn't need to be a world-wide debate.

Just... relax. Know that you're responsible for yourself. Make your own decisions. And when it comes to children and younger, future generations, let's not attack them and judge them for their behaviour. They haven't been here as long as we have and haven't had enough time to figure things out yet. And if we haven't figured things even out at our age, then let's not panic and jump right to cutting open animals to see if their juicy, dissected and scattered brains hold any universally-applicable and fundamentally-relieving truths about humanity. Good Heavens.