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  • Writer's pictureAnnon

When a computer becomes a new best friend

Asher discovers Fortnite on the computer.

Asher and Levi were twins who both had learning difficulties. As a result, they struggled to keep up with their classes. Levi was a gifted soccer player. He didn’t mind coming last in every math test because he had a growing collection of soccer trophies to show off to the other students. Asher didn’t share his brother’s passion at all. He spent most of his free time hanging around with his best friend Shaya. Shaya was loud and liked to take charge. Somehow, Shaya would always manage to think of things for them to do together. 

It was when Shaya moved out of Jerusalem with his family that things started to go wrong for Asher. He felt lost without Shaya and too shy to try and talk to anyone else. Even his brother Levi was never at home. Asher felt like there was nothing fun in his life anymore. He would spend all day in school where he felt the teachers might as well be speaking Chinese for all he understood, and then the afternoons would stretch out before him with no one around. After two months of gloom, Asher discovered Fortnite, the online video game.

Could a mentor help Asher?

At first, Asher would only play for a couple of hours a day. But very quickly, he started spending all afternoon and all night on the computer and would even be late for school because he’d start playing instead of having breakfast. Asher’s parents would try to limit it, to encourage him to take breaks and spend time outside with Levi. Asher was becoming increasingly angry and would snap at his parents, “Why are you trying to take away the only thing I’m good at? Finally I’ve found something that actually makes me happy, why can’t you just be happy for me? Why are you trying to force me to be more like golden boy Levi? I am just fine as I am!”

Asher’s parents did not know what to do. He was obviously not just fine as he was. He looked pale with dark circles under his eyes from all the late nights. It seemed like he was withdrawing from the world, that life for Asher didn’t exist beyond his screen. Finally, they approached Kav L’Noar in search of a mentor. They thought that perhaps if we could find Asher another Shaya, he would be able to wean Asher away from Fortnite.

Helping Asher find his own voice

But Malachi, Asher’s new Kav L’Noar mentor, had no intention of being another Shaya. Asher had been hiding behind others for too long, whether that other figure was Levi, Shaya or his computer. Malachi wanted Asher to find his own voice and start developing his own identity. Malachi started by modeling what he wanted to see. He discussed his own hopes, dreams and fears. They talked about everything from their most embarrassing moments to their favorite hair gel. As Malachi opened up, Asher felt obliged to reciprocate. At first it was awkward and he didn’t know what to say. But over time, it became more natural. Asher started to initiate, to share his own likes and dislikes, his own memories and his own secret wishes. He still played Fortnite, but not as obsessively.

Malachi encouraged Asher to get together with his classmates at lunchtimes and breaks because he was sure that they would have things in common. Asher did start spending time with some other boys, although in the end he agreed to apply to a new school which would provide a more supportive environment for his special educational needs. After a year and a half, Asher said goodbye to Malachi, confident that a new circle of friends would make sure that he stayed fully connected to the real world.

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