Monday, February 3, 2014

A Coke was a Coke

By Mark W. Danielson
I love music.  For me, nothing lifts the soul or occupies the mind like a well-constructed tune.  Even though most of the time music serves as background, there are times when the lyrics draw me in.  One song in particular was Tim McGraw’s reflective hit, I Miss Back When.  As the title implies, it examines how our morals and language have changed over the last few decades.  If you’re unfamiliar with his song, Tim sings about how a coke was a coke, a hoe was a hoe, crack was something you did when someone told a joke, and so on.  Talk about nailing it, we’d all be better off if we could turn back time. 

Far more disturbing than our moral decline is how so many people are letting others think for them.  While some blame this on apathy, broken marriages, both parents working, whatever, I think the simplest explanation is younger people tend to lack imagination.  Play sets like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and Erector Sets that once challenged kids’ minds and promoted logical and mechanical thinking have been replaced with electronic games that snare kids and keep them from noticing the outside world.  Even Legos shed their imaginative play sets in favor of theme kits.  Rather than keep their original variable-sized building blocks, Lego kits have gone to specific models.  Build whatever’s on the box and you’re done.  Forget about creating your own starship because the pieces limit what you can do. Okay, this is an exaggeration, but these policy shifts still parody our society. 

For the sake of argument, I’m labeling this societal transferal media selection because it affects every aspect of our lives.  As much as people love social networking, television remains our most influential media, bombarding us with biased reporting and suggestive commercials and shows.  Turn on the TV and it will show you how you should look, tell you what to eat, how to medicate, vote and treat other people.  Mulling over commercials selling us on pharmaceuticals reminds me of the sixties song about how one pill makes you larger, another makes you small, and the one that mother gives you does nothing at all.  The bottom line is pharmaceutical companies want you hooked on their medicine, and too many fall into their trap.

But far worse than the medical industry’s tact is award recipients and talk show hosts preaching about how we should live our lives.  The grandest display appeared on the recent Grammy Awards.  Please explain to me what a mass marriage ceremony has to do with music or an awards show?  We just saw the media focus on a Duck Dynasty actor and NBA player attending the President’s State of the Union Address.  What’s next?  Live sex change operations at the Oscars?  People, whatever you do on your own time is your business, but awards shows should limit themselves to the awards, and the recipients should keep their comments to thanking whoever is responsible for getting them there before quietly leaving the stage, just like they did back when. 

Speaking of politics, I’m tired of people voting based on celebrity endorsements.  I’m tired of celebrities slamming potential contenders before they ever appear on a ballot.  I’m tired of our soldiers dying overseas while the media focusses on gay issues rather than our debt and war losses.  Most of all, I’m tired of seeing our citizens act like sheep.  While it’s is easier to follow another’s lead than gathering facts, everyone should realize our free society depends on us doing our own research and making intelligent choices, so why not open your minds and stop being guided by the media?  It should not surprise anyone that not everything seen on the TV or Internet is true. 

While The US Constitution protects the media’s freedom of speech, it should never impair your freedom of choice.  Realize that every politician caters to the media to get elected, and to stay in office they glad-hand and grovel to keep the media on their side.  Also realize that when a favored politician blunders, their incident or indiscretion disappears, but for those less favored, anything negative becomes front page news, lingering like a sewer leak.  No matter which medium you get your news from, fairness is a myth.

I used to wonder why older people were so cynical and now I understand.  Despite their expansive lives’ experiences and vast educations, the only ones paying attention to the gray generations are pharmaceutical companies.  So, how about it, Tim?  It won’t be long before AARP finds you.  You have an updated version of Back When?  Oh yeah, I do miss it . . .



Bill Kirton said...

You're muscling in on my grumpy old man territory, Mark, but to my mind, justifiably. I suspect there are skills the young are developing of which we (or, at least, I) know little, but it's true that they're also missing out on some fundamentals which are part of a deeper shared consciousness. Many kids in primary and secondary schools know nothing of nursery rhymes and the classic fairy tales. Childish? Maybe, but those tales articulate fears, anxieties, and the elegant myths of what used to be a universal culture.

Mark W. Danielson said...

I thought you'd appreciate it, Bill. Should I add, "Remember when a Superbowl could be defined as a competitive game among the best teams in the NFL?"

Paul D. Marks said...

I agree with Bill Kirton when he says "but it's true that they're also missing out on some fundamentals which are part of a deeper shared consciousness. Many kids in primary and secondary schools know nothing of nursery rhymes and the classic fairy tales. Childish? Maybe, but those tales articulate fears, anxieties, and the elegant myths of what used to be a universal culture."

I don't want to sound like an old fogey, but when we were younger much -- it not all -- of our cultural heritage was passed on. These days if I say a common phrase to many young people they've never heard it. When I would go to pitch meetings in Hollywood I would have to dumb down what I was saying because most of these people (and they often graduated from elite colleges) had no cultural reference points. Hell, one of them even asked me who was on which side in World War II. Which I guess is an improvement over what my wife dealt with about a week ago when she was talking to someone who didn't even know what WWII is. Scary.

Chester Campbell said...

You hit my hot button here, Mark. These new electronic gadgets are marvelous. Even my two and three-year-old great-grandkids sit and punch on the colorful pictures. But they're not hearing the classic children's tales we learned. As for TV, about all I watch is the news and believe only what experence tells me is probably true. The only financial advisor I listen to, who has helped double my small portfolio over the past couple of years, says pay no attention to the talking heads on TV. All they care about is saying something that will boost their ratings.

Society has made great strides technologically in recent years, but we've lost our way in the arena of personal relationships and how to save the essential parts of our past.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Bill, Paul, Chester, you're all right on the mark. However, I do have to acknowledge our younger generations have a completely different frame of reference.

As the saying goes, with age comes wisdom. Sadly, most of this wisdom is disregarded by younger generations so it dies with us.

Technology isn't to blame, it's those who manipulate it. They know that kids are sponges who soak up whatever is placed in front of them. Give them a video game and they'll keep them quiet. Release a new game and they'll demand it. The same applies to smart phones.

I'm not sure there is a solution because our Constitution protects moral degradation. For us older folks, perhaps the best thing is to retire to the country and watch the grass grow.