Or, call me crazy (wait, I have bipolar so stigma may already label me that) BUT I look around at the world today, the world where my friend’s children, nieces and nephews, are living in, and I see a completely different world than I grew up in. Some of it is good, but some of it is truly scary and sad and I wonder where, when, how it came to be this way. School shootings, bombings, bullying to the point of suicide, teenage pregnancy being “cool,” social media taking over actual in person socialization, airplanes with wi-fi, electric cars….. I could go on and on, and some of these things are not bad. Some are advances with good intentions, but sometimes good intentions can end up going awry.
Where is this going?
Well, I remember a time when there was no internet. *gasp* Yes, I’m THAT old. We had to pick up the phone, not a cellphone, but one that was plugged into a special jack on the wall and was called a ‘land line’ in order to talk to someone that was not inside your house. At school, to communicate with our friends, we had to write things down on little sheets of paper, fold them up, and pass them back and forth when the teacher wasn’t looking or cleverly disguising them inside notebooks or text books. When we got into trouble, we were punished by our parents by taking away phone privileges, or tv/video games, and not allowing us to go to other friends houses. We had to come home straight from school and do our homework and sit in boredom so we would learn our lesson. If you were teased or picked on, you could expect that if you told your parents, they would be on the phone with parents of the person who was teasing you and then they would get in trouble (or you would get teased more because you ratted someone out) and things would not escalate to the point of every single person of, or around, your age in the entire city, state, or country knowing about it and tormenting you (or vice versa). We were taught to respect our elders, we were taught manners, we were taught right from wrong and were given consequences if we didn’t abide by or follow what we were taught.
I don’t ever remember hearing about, or witnessing, other students bringing weapons to school (unless you count the pointy end of the compass we needed for geometry or art class). There was an occasional pocket knife, but guns? Nope. I only heard about guns on the nightly news. There were no mass shootings by other students. We were not afraid to go to the movie theatre or shopping mall because we thought it could be a place of victimization, other than maybe a pick pocketing or a kid stealing a piece of candy from the candy store. We could go anywhere and not be afraid that people from all the other towns might recognize us from some sort of prank that had been uploaded onto You Tube and then bullied or mocked because of it, and we also knew better than to do something so mean or hurtful to someone that they could end up emotionally scarred from it. We were taught to treat others as we want to be treated.
Social media has done great things as far as marketing and advertising, research, support groups, anonymity and privacy when it comes to personal issues, and keeping friends and family in contact worldwide at a much cheaper cost than the old fashioned “long distance phone call” charge on your phone bill. But, along with those positive advances, it has also brought about more bullying because now you can connect with far more people and can hide behind a computer screen instead of doing it in person, and has brought on the sensationalism of things like mass shootings, bombings, etc. Instead of viewing it as a bad thing, people now crave the attention and doing these acts of violence brings them far more attention than just getting good grades, getting a good job, supporting yourself or a family, and accomplishing positive goals. Now, you become a media sensation and are recognized for bad things. I saw a video on You Tube the other day where two gas station clerks were beat up, and harassed by some customers while they tried to defend themselves and then the customers used the clerks own bats to continue the beatings. That was disturbing enough, but the part that really made me ill, the girl who took the video just stood by and watched this happen, and even encouraged the customers to continue beating the store clerks while she laughed away. When did beating another person up to the point of hospitalization become “funny” and something that millions of people would view and then comment how funny the video was, or encouraging the beating more.
When did we lose the values that were once taught to us, “treat others as you want to be treated,” and “respect your elders?” When did it become “cool” to be 16 and pregnant? Yes, 16 year olds have always been getting pregnant, but for a long time, it was frowned upon because you would have a lot of difficulty supporting and raising the child. Many could not continue their education and it was a severe hardship. Now, there are TV shows about these girls and they are making money off of it and others look at it like its a new trend. Heck, I’ve even heard stories about young girls getting pregnant because they want their boyfriend to stay with them. They are using pregnancy as manipulation. When did sensationalizing teen pregnancy become a way of promoting it, instead of discouraging it. While the intention may have been to show the hardships and a way of trying to get teens to stop doing it, it somehow became the new trend.
No, I do not have children myself, but sometimes, I am afraid to have children because I am afraid of the world that they will grow up in. Things have changed a lot since I grew up. While I can do my best to try and teach my child the same morals and values that I grew up with, that won’t stop the world around us from continuing on as it is. I can teach my child not to bully someone, but that won’t stop the others from bullying my child. I can teach them that it is wrong to go around shooting people, but that doesn’t mean they won’t end up a school where some other child does. I can teach my child that if they are not feeling well or something doesn’t seem right, they can talk to me about it, I can teach them that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, but if talked about, we can get them the help and support needed to help them live the best life they can, but that doesn’t mean that other children will have the same thing at home.
Regardless of the day and age we are or were brought up in, we can’t control those around us or control exactly how the world advances, but what we can do is stay true to our own morals and values, teach our own family those same morals and values, and try to surround ourselves with as many people who have the same morals and values we do in hopes that we can continue on the same. Yes, that could just be a dream world that I might be living in, but I still sit and wonder, WHEN did this all happen? And if this only took a few years to happen, what else could happen in the next few?? How can we make positive changes????