I'm hearing so much doom and gloom from the PC students lately--so much 'what's the world coming to'--that I'm afraid they have some accelerated aging disease. They're like a bunch of grannies, sitting around, talking about the good old days--the simpler times of VCRs and the Spice Girls. Every generation does this, of course, but the spokesmodels are getting younger and younger. At this rate, we'll be hearing sixth-graders wax nostalgic for the ipod mini.
I went to Audrey's blog this morning, and it was the last straw. So this post is for the students--written to them. As for the rest, if the shoe fits...
*You say kids can't be kids anymore. The world is too dangerous, and they can't play outside... They watch too much TV, play too many video games...
The children where I live ride their bikes in the street. They fight in the yard. They build forts and steal each others' Hotwheels. They trick-or-treat in our neighborhood, where we happen to know almost all of our neighbors. In fact, every year we have a neighborhood Halloween party in a central cul-de-sac. Everyone brings food, and everybody eats it without sniffing it first.
Furthermore, because I jog in many of the surrounding 'hoods, I see the hand-made signs that indicate the same types of community in other neighborhoods, where they have bar-b-q's, pool parties, and potluck dinners. Every year, at the end of May, I see banners at the entrances of these subdivisions, congratulating their graduating seniors--listing them all by name. This never fails to make me cry.
If you want a family, choose where you live with that in mind. You might have to make some sacrifices. I too would love to live in Midtown.
*You worry about the Internet, complain about its evils. You imagine a future where no one actually speaks to one another, where we all hide our true selves behind our monitors.
There are dangers that come with new technology, because our ethics are always a few steps behind it. But as our culture evolves--science, technology, the ways we communicate--so do our ethics. Today's passionate stem cell research debate is yesterday's discourse over in vitro fertilization. I'm frustrated by the conservative's attitudes about it, but I also realize that it's necessary that certain progress not be easy--that it be thought for and fought for.
*Some call blogging masturbation and social sites like My Space orgies.
Well, I'm all for masturbation. If you haven't tried it, you should. (Blogging would be a circle jerk, by the way). My own experience has been that it actually connects people. MF and Debbie Millman met through blogging. Debbie and Harpy. MF and Angie. My mom and MF. One day I'll meet Debbie Millman in person, and I'll feel I already know her. No doubt, we can present a false self in this arena. But we can do that face-to-face too, can't we? Be real.
At its best, blogging is another system of checks and balances, where consumers can get the truth about products and services, and citizens can rat out the sleazy politicians. It's a continual investigation into everything that matters. As for the My Spaces and Facebooks, they're mere reflections of reality. Think of them as you would any kind of gathering. Some are wild, drug-and-sex-laden drunkfests. Some are coffee houses. Others are knitting circles or book clubs. Choose which ones you want to go to.
Remember, 'everywhere you go--there you are.' The Internet doesn't turn people bad; it's just another place to exercise who you are. Cheaters don't become cheaters by meeting in chat rooms; pedophiles don't become pedophiles by going to My Space. That's who they are already.
*But what about the people who stay 'plugged in' instead of actually living their lives?
Well, I can't imagine too many people stay online more than I do. All fun and blogging aside, I also manage the PC website, which keeps me even more in the virtual realm. Still, I teach my classes, raise my kids, watch Grey's Anatomy and Cops, learn guitar, ride my bike, jog five days a week, read actual books, buy groceries, go to softball games and marching band performances, do laundry, scream at the dogs, feed the turtle/parakeet/fish, and talk to MF 20 times a day...
Finally--and I realize I've merely touched and not delved here--as the world gets smaller though technology, the Internet and television show us a lot of pain. We don't have the luxury of ignorance anymore. It keeps us more honest. It should compel us to at least some small action. (Voting maybe.) That's not a bad thing. But I see joy and youthful exuberance everywhere. I see imaginative people letting their hair down, accessing their inner child, acknowledging the wonder of this beautiful, flawed world.
Mind yourselves. Ask questions. Do what's right. Do what's fun. Take your small comfort from the past but revel in progress. Be a part of it.
Don't be so afraid.
Hey, wear your fucking costume to school, Audrey. Who's stopping you?