Friday Nostalgia--Not

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?



Great post, Tania...the truth is that, regardless of technology, of all of the ways we can be "anonymous," hide from ourselves and others, whateverthefuck, it is always a CHOICE...a choice WE make. Technology is neutral and assumes the values and ethics of its user. WE, not technology, are responsible for the spiritual, moral, ethical deficit that exists.

At ALL times, we have a choice. We either move toward making a positive choice, making a DIFFERENCE or we do not. It's that simple. Technology is simply away to expedite this process.

Alena said...

I took Thor trick or treating in the neighborhood his mom and step-dad just moved into and it was the same scenario that you're writing about.

Kids everywhere– stealing each others' candy, laughing at costumes, talking about "Ms. so-n-so" from school.

The parents were walking in a crowd from house to house, talking about report cards and god knows what else. And they weren't giving each other the shifty eye or staying on the other side of the street.

It was just adorable. And I felt uncomfortable. I couldn't understand why for a long time, but I think I just realized: I haven't seen something like this in over five years.

(And the lack of tall buildings kind of
weirded me out. ;) )

minus five said...

this will be more of an essay instead of a comment, but here goes...

back in '94 or '95 when the internet first became accessible, i became addicted to email because i thought it was cool that i could have conversations with my friend in japan just as easily as i could my friend who was in a dorm across campus. i used to print out all of the emails i got and save them. like they were handwritten letters or cards.

and then came aol and instant messenger. real-time conversations with complete strangers or friends, but usually strangers. i don't know how many hours i spent pretending i was different people of different ages with different interests.

things were a little bit impersonal in the beginning of the internet age, and i think that freaked some people out the more they thought about it. i also think most people are kind of smart, so we figured out ways to make adjustments. with interactive websites and myspace and now blogging. all of those things have naturally evolved from what was once, just email.

it always surprises me when i first meet someone who has been reading my blog. most of the time they start laughing before they even say "hello." i don't know what that means. but i can tell in their eyes and their mannerisms that they think they already know me so well. and because i don't lie or pull any punches on my blog, they do probably know me as well as most people. even my own closest friends seem to know me even better when they read what i write. it cuts through a lot of the bullshit and small talk you have to go through when you first meet people.

and another thing, "Well, first of all, I'm all for masturbation. If you haven't tried it, you should."


now answer your damn phone because i haven't even talked to you once today.

Anonymous said...

Amazing post. Very provocative. And in regards to "social media" and what it does or does not do... I started blogging because a cool dude with whom I was making-out heavily with once, on his couch, a guy I liked, and maybe would've even fucked eventually, pulled-me up short by saying, "You've got too many layers to get through." He wasn't refering to my clothes either, since the few I had on were mostly off of me by that point.

He meant the loads of emotional boundries I'd placed on myself, and my life, through the sheer struggle, over the years, of survival in this world I suppose.

I went home somewhat puzzled, but curious, and started a blog the next day. And began the long process of defining and dealing with some of those darn "layers."

And now, I may still be as screwed-up as always, but I have a precise, clear, written record of what has been going through my heart, my head, my life and my world, on a daily basis. And so does anyone else, including my child one day, who gives a damn enough to wade through the thing. It's all there. Fully, uhhhh, dis-closed!

A genuine sense of self and of what my own unique experiences really are all about, my possibilities, ridiculous or otherwise, have emerged since I started blogging.

I can say that in the year and a half since I've started blogging, I've also started my own company, made a zillion new connections, some professional; made some new wonderful friends, some new enemies, some new frenemies.

It's added to the richness and vastness of life in every way, not diminished.

Anonymous said...

One other thing... I'm reading three wonderful new books. Not because I just ran across them in the book store or library, but because I'd had communications, through my blog or theirs, with the authors themselves.

The writers asked me to read their book, solicited my opinions and are eager to hear what I have to say about their work.

(And yes, as a writer of anything, I understand that it really is so very much plain hard "work.")

It really makes the grand cultural world/salon I've imagined living in all my life kinda sorta possible. Not quite how I envisioned it originally as a teenager, as I'm not lounging on a velvet chaise in Paris smoking Gitanes and smiling beatifically at my numerous admirers, of course. I'm typically unshowered and and alone and rather unpresentable. But I am in some amazing places and spaces I never imagined before. Fascinating when you stop to think about it all, as you just made us do, Tania.

ktothefe said...

I'm pretty new to blogging and used to poke fun at the very concept, as it seemed a bit like something a computer technician at Best Buy would talk about on his 10 minute smoke break.

Though I've only been blogging for about five weeks now, I have already received some great comments and support from other bloggers--whom I hope to meet. Getting a comment on my blog is like finding a pack of pop-tarts that I forgot I had.

Though it's interesting that I find myself writing knowing that other people may read it. So my writing becomes a bit more structured, and not as random or organic as the thoughts originally were. Is this considered good "blogging" or simply another way for me to define a public persona?

Kathy said...

I won't even try to compete with the eloquence/depth of previous posts, so thought I'd share what is now my all-time favorite Halloween headline -- "Chubby Teen Girls Rob Several Trick-Or-Treaters". This actually made the local news on Wednesday -- "Police found that a 14-year-old boy had been robbed of his Halloween candy. During a search for the girls, deputies found three more victims. The teens were described as heavy-set girls about 16 or 17 years old".

Tania Rochelle said...


adrynd said...

That pic is funny because I really do envy that woman.

Tania Rochelle said...

Adrynd--Yes, me too!

And it might interest y'all to know that the photo was taken by my 17-yr-old Georgia, who has a killer eye, and an appreciation for such spirit.

Young people! What's the world coming to?!

Biggy said...

yeah, but she wouldn't let me drink a beer at that parade, so don't give her too much spirit credit.

GA said...

You were driving me, kristen, garey, AND lola home... enough said.

aud said...

ok...so maybe I have some blinders on here in midtown. Its sad never seeing any kids around the neighborhood. I was fortunate enough to hand out candy to little ones at claires. It made me happy. i was only being nostalgic..on a tuesday :)

glad I could help you out with your post.

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