Monday, January 30, 2012

We are not better informed, are we?

My 13 year-old son and I had an interesting conversation recently--the kind of chat that parents have with teenagers.  He insists that since we get more news and it comes faster that we're better informed than when I was his age--and I vehemently disagree.  Yes, it's a fact that the news comes faster and there's a lot more of it, but I firmly believe that our one newspaper, The New Orleans "Times Picayune," and our three network TV stations, and an occasional "Life" or "Look"--provided all the news I needed (all the news fit to print, to borrow the NY Times motto).  He argues, "Yeah but Dad, you told me you only got ONE baseball game a week on TV!"  And, I counter, "Yeah but Son, I read the box scores in the paper the next day--and it was "NEWS" to me."  Of course, we also had radio--I could catch a game just about any night on WWL.  He acquiesced, "OK, but what about political news--how would you know who to vote for?"  I explained, "I ignore 90% of the political stuff I see or hear now, and it wasn't a whole lot different "back in the day."  My first opportunity to vote was the  Nixon/McGovern election--it's not like I had only an hour or so to decide.  I got all the info I needed to make an informed decision---in plenty of time."  He shifted to "entertainment" news and I was able to quickly shut that down--even he agreed we can go forever without another story of what celebrity made a fool of him or herself-- again. 

I could go on, but the point is that I don't need, don't want most of the "news" available to me today.  I sift through it to find the real news stories, but I ignore 90+% of everything on the cable channels, the Internet--the crap makes it HARDER to be well informed on important topics, not easier.  What do you think?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Evils of Texting

Texting is not a tool to improve productivity or efficiency. It is not more convenient than other forms of communication. It is a toy, a dangerous, development-arresting, cowardly game. The problem is more apparent in young people, I expect, but universal--texting (and email for that matter) allows, even encourages people to say things they would never have the courage or strength of character to say 'face to face.' Texting is reminiscent of the notes we used to pass behind the teacher's back in 5th grade, "I like you, do you like me?" At some point you learn that you can't communicate via notes any longer, so you finally muster the courage to stand face to face and ask, "you wanna go to the movies?" And, it's a monumental accomplishment--character building (especially if she says 'no').

Texting does for people what cars do for many. People who would never cut in front of you standing in line at the bank or the supermarket will suddenly be stronger, braver, and more assertive behind the wheel of a car--and cut in front of you into a turn lane on the freeway. But, that new found strength and courage go away when they step back out into the real world. Texting gives a similar false strength to people--and it frightens me to think that they might never step back out into the real world. If they don't have the courage to say something, face to face, they shouldn't be texting it (after 6th grade).

Yeah, I'm old, but that's not why I don't like texting. I watch my young son "making friends" via texting, IM'ing, chat-rooms, electronic social networks, and it's wrong on so many levels. Those people aren't friends, they're no more friends than an imaginary playmate. That's one reason I don't like texting. Another reason, is that I finally got the courage to talk face to face with people (it took a while, but I've been doing it pretty well for nearly 50 years) and it can be exhilarating--especially with girls. Nothing is better than seeing the smile on my sweetheart's face when I tell her how pretty she looks today--I suppose she'd smile if I sent her a text, but I wouldn't get to see it.