We’ve done a few things very well in this nation.
The Constitution, for example, is one of the most beautifully-written idealistic documents in the history of civilization. Many nations have used ours as an outline when composing their own guidelines for government’s role in their society. It is something we cling to, something we cite in discussions and something that serves as a basic foundation for nearly all we do internally as a nation.
In fact, essayist Gerald Early was quoted in the Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary as saying that in 2,000 years, when archaeologists are combing through our old relics, there will be three significant contributions made by America: The Constitution, baseball and jazz music.
Of course, if he had the opportunity to add to that today, he might include a bickering and ineffective federal government, reality television programming and fad diets. I mean, come on, diets aren’t rocket science. Burn off more calories than you consume and chances are that you’ll lose weight. Why does everything have to come pre-packaged and with a trendy name to interest people in ...
But I digress.
One other thing we’ve done well throughout generations is question, well, other generations. I find myself doing it constantly. During the heavy snowstorms I was somewhat surprised that no kids came by my house offering to shovel snow. When I was growing up, a heavy snowfall meant two things: I would have to wear that dorky winter coat my mother got me for Christmas, and money would be available for shoveling a few driveways. Of course, we also walked 14 miles to school uphill during blizzards, and our shoes were made of old lettuce we found behind the corner store, but that’s for another time.
But that’s what happens, and it has for a while, as far as I can tell. My father would constantly tell me how he would never sit inside, even in bad weather, and would be out playing sports all day and night, and still find time to do all his homework and keep up his grades. I found out years later through my grandmother that my father might not have been the model student he often portrayed himself to be, but I guess that’s part of the great generational divide, as well. We remember things the most convenient way possible to fill our needs.
Regardless, I’m not really one to hammer today’s young generation, because I get to meet many impressive young people through my job. For instance, our new fashion columnist, Veronica Townsend, has a work ethic and positive attitude that exceeds most people of all generations, and she’s a junior at Indian River High School. Oh yeah, there’s hope for tomorrow, because of young people like her. Trust me, we’re all in very good hands.
There’s also way more access to information for today’s younger generation than there ever was before. I was watching one of my favorite new shows, “Men of a Certain Age,” the other night. One of the central characters in the show is a salesman for a car dealership. A young man came in to look at a flashy sports car, and the salesman was stuck. The young customer had access to every bit of information available on the car and its costs via the Internet running through his cell phone. As one of his co-workers later said to the character, “They know what we know.”
And they know it fast.
An article in The (Baltimore) Sun on Wednesday focused on a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that found that “American youngsters ... are now using cell phones, iPods and other electronic devices for an average of 7 1/2 hours daily — more than the equivalent of a full day of school.”
I stopped reading at that point, leaned back and digested that statement. Wow. The study went on to say that the children are multi-tasking so much while playing on these devices that they are actually cramming nearly 11 hours of activity into that 7 1/2 hours.
Well, that kind of made me reconsider a few things about technology. Obviously, the instant access to information is invaluable — but frittering away one’s life on electronic media seems to be counterproductive, right?
But that’s when reality slapped me in the face. It’s obviously not only a generational thing. After all, I was reading that story on my iPhone. Of course, back in my day I had to walk uphill both ways to get to my iPhone.