I’ve been a dad for a whopping 3 years now. It’s strange to become a parent when most of your friends aren’t. You see yourself changing in a way that doesn’t totally relate to the way your non-parent friends are changing (by the way there is no judgement here, I think not producing is just as important as producing). One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I really do care more than I used to. My pre-parental angst of not giving a chips-and-salsa has transformed into looking into my kids’ eyes and seeing down the tunnel to their future.
The struggle to swim through the thick, gooey, media filled day to something real. My head is full of other people’s thoughts and ideas of stuff that makes no difference in my day. My contribution to this world is consistently tainted by advertising via social media and campaigns loosely hidden by an aesthetic of “good design” and commercialized “art.” The music blasting through the window of the car next to mine is a hyper sexualized drug ad packaged in a designer bag.
Abusive advertising ticks me off- that goes for entertainment/media as well. Perpetuating hate and violence and abuse is boring. It’s easy to see through the marketing plan of appealing to the rebellious nature of pre-teen, teen, young adults – 30’s and even “old guys” trying to stay relevant in this young world. We should be smarter than that.
We are being trained. Whether its on purpose or just dumb coincidence- we are being trained. Trained to think alike. We have chained ourselves together in the guise of “staying connected.” I hardly know anybody anymore. Our pictures speak thousands of words- words we quickly swipe through. We don’t talk anymore, we comment. We don’t communicate any more, we connect. We don’t have relationships, we change our status. We don’t develop friendships, we get friended. Soon this training will be complete and we will all watch and believe the same things- we’ll all read the same 140 character news stories and take them as fact without checking.
You are probably saying to yourself, “not me!” and you could very well be right, for now. What about our kids though? What will it feel like to know your daughter or son is logging-in and signing-up and consuming the same shart circling through his little network gone viral because of whatever point some bonehead is trying to make? We need to do our best to teach about credible sources, not believing everything you see and hear, and forming opinions based on who you are as a person. By the way, a 20 question quiz cannot define your soul and tell you who you are. We need real tangible adventures. We need quiet. We need more than Emerson, and Thoreau (although that would be a good start). What happened to reflection and putting the puzzle pieces of our existence together? We need to focus on the physical world, get our heads out of The Tech Cloud, and look back up into the real clouds.
I will not compare any generation to another, I will not blame anybody. This is not a problem that will be fixed. This is what a real-time world shift looks like. I’m not proposing that any of us make a stand or try to change anything. I don’t think anything can be changed anyway on the large scale.
What I am saying to my “friends” is this:
Don’t be swallowed up whole. Take a moment to break away. Be aware that whatever social media is the thing right now will not last forever, but the content you share and upload will be. Know that you are being targeted by advertising constantly. Find a way to be yourself and feel good about what you are doing without having to “share” it with anyone but yourself and the other people there with you.
Most importantly, be with your kids. Teach them what it is to be grounded by being grounded. There is a time and place for technology and social media- but it’s not all the time in every place. Sometimes it’s okay to turn it off.