When did we start sleep walking through life?

polarRemember our late nights, staying up all night and imagining a world of impossibility.  Telling jokes until coke came out of our noses, making movies with our ten pound VHS camcorder and wishing we could be Marty McFly for just one day.  Looking back, I think I would have gone back to the past.

We found refuge in the great outdoors.  Whether we biked, ran, played wiffle ball, swam all day in the neighbors pool or hung out eating cheap candy at the convenience store, we found adventure in those hum drum suburbs.  If it was that time of the month, we could even catch a glimpse of a few breasts when the Quick Check threw out the unsold Playboy magazines.  It was a different time; a better time.

As the winter hit, the first baseball cards of the season were ready us.  We biked to the store, even if it was snowing to see who could get the best players.  Then we would trade them away or loose them in a game of hide and seek.

It never ended there.  We would stay up until all hours of the night laughing about our day.  On weekends, we would sneak some Mad Dog or a 40 and hang out in the woods.  Our fantasies were each others sisters or the older cheerleaders; our dreams were playing professional ball; our futures were just leaving our hometown.  Our art was spray paint and a rock.

No curfew; no locked doors at night; no crime except for a domestic dispute that usually resulted in a few loose cans or close on the front lawn.

vhs1Something happened along the way.  We go scared and started sleep walking through life.

I remember when I was younger and I won a race, or scored the winning basket or got an award, I celebrated those moments and cherished them.  I still have a few medals to show.  I didn’t have anywhere to brag about them in cyber space.  The only cyber space we knew was V, Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rodgers.  There was no need for gratification or jealousy of others.  Maybe that is why there seemed to be less depression, gun use or suicide.  What do I know?  I’m just a writer reflecting on a period of time when moments mattered.

As a junior in high school, I was fortunate to be friends with the star senior on the team in cross country.  We were both considered loners in a way, stretching far away from the team and doing our own spiritual prep before matches.  It worked.  When we had away meets, we were the kings.  By kings, I mean we had the seats in the back of the bus and controlled the boom box (For the kids out there, that is a device that played tapes and radio).  After every win, which there were a lot, we played We are the Champions by Queen and for three and a half minutes, there was no better feeling in the world.  It was our anthem and a reminder of teamwork, dedication and the incredible feeling of victory.

boom1My first three years, we went 31 – 2.  It was something we took pride in.  It didn’t hurt that our coach would play the opening of Chariots of Fire and The Final Countdown by Europe rang loud before each meet, but it was knowing that our focus and our competitive edge made us better than we could ever imagine.  I don’t see much of that today in our youth.

Maybe I can’t see their faces behind their smart phones or tablets.

I haven’t seen Star Wars yet, but I recently was asked why this one is so much more successful than the previous three.  There are many answers, but one that stands out is the formula.  Disney has taken us back to what made the original releases so iconic.  Star Wars was never just a  sci-fi movie; it was a relationship movie series about good vs evil, love and brotherhood with a sci-fi back drop.  That is why I will never pass an opportunity to watch A New Hope, no matter how campy the acting.

This is the core reason we never wanted our days to end.  We developed relationships that stretched the limits of imagination and allowed us to go beyond reality without compromising our ability to get their on our own.

battleSmart phones, apps, tablets and gaming devices have taken away our ability to use all our senses and abilities and most importantly, our imagination.

 

 

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The John Hughes World of Teen Love and Relationships is Dead

john1I recently watched the latest Jason Reitman film, Men, Women and Children;  a poignant and often challenging film about the use of digital communication to form and manage human interaction in our modern society.  In a critical moment, late in the film, one of the main teen characters was reaching out for help via text and due to external interference the message never came through and as a result he almost overdosed.

It was a moment in the film when the need for human contact could have dramatically changed the course of life and death.  It was a message to the viewers cautioning us about the path we are choosing to take.  Our two-dimensional messages are trying to fill the void of our emotions that run far deeper than our digital communication devices.  We are shielded by text, status updates, selfies masking our blank stares and all the while brainwashed into a sense of numbness and an appeal for help silenced by the screaming apathy of society.

It is interesting that “zombies” have become such a popular part of our culture.  With their blank stares, bodies dead inside and emotions buried forever that maybe perhaps we are seeing ourselves.

We categorize a generation based on the time frame they were born into, their ideology and their views on life.  We know the Millennials are more apathetic, less reliant on religion, less connected to the emotions of intimacy and retracting from heavy human connection.  Yet, we put out more and more products to help continue this path of distance and emotional destruction.  Have we come to accept a world of gaming and virtual friends, status updates to express feelings, texts to have those critical conversations and snap chat to show intimacy?

The Ashley Madison database can tell you that millions are looking into cyberspace to find a short term fix for their inability to deal with reality.  Porn has made us numb to the traditional values of love and intimacy and Facebook has given us the green light to stop writing letters and expressing thoughts that are prepared, calculated and meaningful.

breakfastJohn Hughes taught us that behind the stereotypes, behind the teen angst; there is something much more important in life, family, love and relationships.  His films helped us appreciate the effort, find love beyond appearance and accept the soul of a person.

Would the Breakfast Club have walked away that afternoon with a new sense of value and understanding about each others lives?  No.  They would have texted all day and had very little communication with each other.  After all, a princess, jock, geek, dirt bag, and crazy girl would never think to get to know each other.

Would Ferris Bueller and Cameron have enjoyed the best day of their lives together.  Nope.  The GPS tracker in their phones would have made it easy to track their location.

Would Steve Martin and John Candy characters in Planes, Train and Automobiles have become friends?  Nope.  One of them would have downloaded a plane app, changed flights and gotten home a lot more quickly.

Would Samantha and Jake ended up together in Sixteen Candles?  Nope.  Jake would have spread a nasty rumor via text that would have gotten all around school and Samantha would have been blacklisted for the rest of her high school days.

Could Weird Science have happened?….Actually maybe that can happen someday or has it already…

momentsThough not John Hughes, the iconic scene in Say Anything where Lloyd Dobler proclaims his unconditional love for Diane Court would never have had the same impact with an IPhone and ITunes.  That would have just looked silly.

Bottom line, we are going in the wrong direction and as a whole we are suffering.  Please keep buying Call of Duty and watch the gun fatalities increase, continue text arguments so we don’t have to confront them, cheat on our significant others through Tinder, lose ourselves in instant gratification and most importantly distance ourselves from humanity.

It is hard to see the world we live in.  Bring back the days of John Hughes.

 

Social Media Fuels Bullying

October, 2015 was National Bullying Prevention Month.  During this month, students were urged to Stand up, make friends outside their circles, become more aware of others differences and create a surrounding culture that stamps out bullying and promotes unification.

Bullying takes on many faces and attacks many populations

Bullying can be seen in:

  • Athletes against nerds
  • Cheerleaders against Emo
  • Strong against weak
  • Straight against gay
  • Whites against black

And the list goes on.  Kids Against Bullying is an organization that was created by PACER Center to bring information and awareness to this issue.  Their mission to bring togetherness, acceptance and kindness is one with an important message we should all follow.

At the grade school level, students fight to find identity.  This struggle leads to difficult life choices and paths.  It is in this pressure driven culture that schools have created where bullying has become one of many pronounced effects.

As we grow, mature and evaluate our lives, the natural progression is toward awareness, acceptance and a new level of compassion.  Unfortunately, as adults, the bullying issue is as impacting as it is with the younger generation.  We just don’t seem to be acknowledging it.

steve1Last evening, Steve Harvey made a mistake crowning the wrong Miss Universe contestant.  I did not see the event, but the pulsating social media buzz came to my attention early this morning.  Like so many of us, Steve Harvey made a mistake.

Like:

  • A grammatical or erroneous message on the internet
  • In the heat of passion, calling your lover the wrong name
  • Releasing a product with a defect
  • Playing the wrong first song at a wedding
  • Sending a package to the wrong person

In Mr. Harvey’s case, it was witnessed by millions around the world.  He was ridiculed and defended over the course of the next few hours.  Was there harm?  Yes, emotional, but one he apologized for over and over.

If you look closely at the wave of comments made on social media, not just last evening but everyday, you will see something very eye-opening:  Bullying is all around, even in adults.

Donald Trump supporters and Trump himself are some of the most visible supporters of bullying with bumper stickers that say “Hillary Clinton for Prison” and comments demeaning other candidates and former political figures.

Anti-Obama supporters make blanket accusations and insults on a daily basis.  Many are based on personal frustration; not fact.  Ask Rush Limbaugh, he leads the brigade.

bully1Are most of these comments made at public figures, yes, because that is the life path they chose, but once you peel the layers, you will see it is going on at all levels.

Awareness is nice and necessary, but it isn’t changing human behavior.  We still have a tremendous amount of work and it will take many more generations to get it right.  It is moments like this, I am glad I was raised right.