For reasons unknown to me, I have been reflecting a lot lately about how things "used to be". Like an old man shaking his fist at the world while crying out about "those darn kids today"! Constantly comparing the current world we live in against the one that I grew up in back in the 70's and 80's.
I think this whole thing was sparked the other day when I accidentally left my cell phone at work for a day. I really wasn't too concerned about it. In fact, it was actually a bit freeing for me to know that I couldn't be gotten a hold of at a moments notice, I wouldn't be notified of any incoming E-mail, I wouldn't run the risk of crashing and burning while texting on the freeway, and my Facebook friends would just not have the pleasure of knowing my "status".
Unlike the 20 somethings of today, I actually remember how to live without a cell phone being attached to me at every waking and sleeping moment.
Being separated from my cell phone brought back images of the first time I ever used a "Cellular Phone". I was in Hong Kong, standing in Hanger Bay 2 onboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. I paid a shitload of money to some douche capitalizing on my need to call home after being deployed. It was 1993 and I was fascinated at the concept of waking my mother up in the middle of her night back in the states, using a heavy plastic device with no wires on it. It was amazing.
Being without a cell phone for a 24 hour period helped me to realize that I don't know anyone's phone number. Remember when you were a kid, you had all of your friends home numbers memorized? You could dial them faster than a kid of today can text someone.
I can still remember my close friends home phone number from 1992.
Funny how I can remember that, but I have no idea what my mom or dads number is. They are currently housed inside an electronic device under the headings "Mom Cell" and "Dad Cell".
And I don't know why the phonebook people continue to litter my driveway with their rudimentary people finding periodicals. Nobody uses them anymore. In fact, my 17 year old daughter has no clue even how to use one. The white pages, blue pages, and yellow pages are a technicolored textbook of mass printed confusion to her that has been replaced with the likes of Google.
Ask a kid what the Dewey Decimal System is in a library's card catalog and he will most likely hop on the computer in an attempt to locate a book about Disney's Huey, Dewey, and Louie duck adventures in math class.
Speaking of math class...
Do you realize they have taken away lockers for kids? Remember those school issued metal boxes that contained your entire teenage identity complete with vanity mirror, Gun's and Roses poster, and the occasional overachieving math geek? They have taken away lockers so kids can't hide bombs and drugs in them.
Their solution to the problem is to issue every student 2 textbooks for each of their classes. One book stays in the classroom, the other stays at home. And with the average cost of one textbook hovering around $150, its no wonder we have issues with paying our teachers more. They don't want kids having to lug books on their precious backs to and from school as it may cause too much of a strain on their coddled, frail little bodies.
Remember when we got issued ONE book, highly used, then were required to go home and place a book cover on it? The really cool people used the brown paper bag to cover their books.
Then professions of love for so and so, or AC/DC would be inscribed onto every square inch of it while listening to the teacher drone on about subjects, predicates, and dangling participles. Whatever the fuck those are.
Remember having to actually attend an actual school in order to graduate? Now, as soon as a kid has his or her feelings hurt or cant deal with the pressures of the high school pseudoculture, it's off to "online school". Is it a bad thing? No. My kid does online school, and if it wasn't for that she would most likely be a drop out. I'm not bitching about it, I'm just saying...must be nice you know? However even online school isn't safe anymore. A kid was stabbed to death the other day in Mesa while standing outside of the building that houses the online school. I wonder if taking away lockers could have prevented that?
Remember recess? Remember playing games that involved physical contact such as "Red Rover", Football, Dodge Ball, and Smear the Queer? Nowadays, the very mention of the "Q" word is like saying the word "bomb" on a plane. People have feelings you know, and words can sting.
Speaking of the "Q" word, remember when being accused of being gay meant a serious ass kicking and relentless taunting from homophobic jocks? That is gone now. And while on the surface that is a good thing, it has taken a complete 180 degree turn. Nowadays, its cool to be gay or bi-sexual. My daughter knows more gay or bisexual kids than I have known in a lifetime. Perhaps there were that many in my day, they were just not allowed to come out for fear of getting their teeth kicked in. But for my kid to tell me about the homosexual exploits of boys and girls around the age of 14, in the sheer numbers she provides, is astonishing to me and leads me to wonder if the Millineum generation will be able to continue to populate our planet...without the help of science.
Remember when every late October, you would be allowed to come to school dressed up as your favorite hero, or a ghost, or a princess, or Indiana Jones? It used to be called "Halloween". Now it's called "Fall Festival". The religious right got pissed at the pagen-ness of the whole thing and got it removed. The atheist and non-christian left fought back by getting "Christmas Break" removed. The only thing they can agree on is Valentines day, which is the WORST social event that continues to provide deep-scarring emotional mind-fucks to kids today.
Remember having just one day out of the year when you could suppress your childhood self-esteem issues, fears, and anxieties by transforming into a character that transcended all of it? Some of my best recollections of school were imprinted on my memory by way of Halloween.
That's me in the Civil War Yankee Uniform. I have sustained a head injury from Johnny Reb. Rebel Pricks.
You will also notice that I was packing my musket. Can you imagine what would happen if a kid brought a toy musket into a school gymnasium nowadays? I used to run around playing "war" with my very realistic looking machine guns on a daily basis until I was almost 14 years old. It was an outlet for me. I got to kill as many Viet Cong as I wanted (Vietnam was my era of emulation) with no repercussions. If I got killed, I was reincarnated into a "new guy" after a very prolonged and disturbing death scene that usually ended in me calling out for my "buddy" - He couldn't do anything for me though, so I told him to go on without me and give Charlie some fucking payback.
Can you IMAGINE the number of police and SWAT units that would arrive here in the burbs at the first site of two kids dressed in camo running around armed with plastic M-16's and AK's?
Remember pictures? Pictures that were printed on actual photo paper by people who developed something called "film". I was sitting at me desk the other day looking at photos of my family. Those pictures were from 2005. It is 2009 and I suddenly realized that I have no pictures of my family in print form. We all walk around with our "Pics" of our life's treasured memories on our cell phones and IPOD things and store them in an electronic box that could fry itself into oblivion at any moment - rather than scrapbooks.
I had to laugh my ass of the other day at my daughter who, after recently getting her license, wanted to listen to her music on wife's car stereo. You see, wife's stereo only includes one of those old fashioned CD players. She was freaking out trying to figure out how to get the music from her little electronic hi-fi thing into the stereo. There really is something to be said about tape and CD collections.
I truly believe that we have made things more complicated in an attempt to make things more convenient and effective. What used to be a few steps, now takes 5, 10, or 20 steps. For example:
1. Buy AC/DC tape
2. Put into tape player
3. Push Play
1. Download music into your Ipod by installing the I-Tunes Application.
2. Once you have that on your computer, plug your Ipod into your Computer.
3. Find your IPod on your Itunes on the Side tabs.
4. Drag music into your I-Tunes, or Download Music from Itunes, and sync them into your ipod or manually drag the music you want into your ipod from I-Tunes.
5. Purchase a Bluetooth wireless thing for your car.
6. Plug in Bluetooth wireless thing into car lighter
7. Turn on Bluetooth wireless thing
8. Sync the Bluetooth device to your Ipod using the sync mode.
9. Press the side of the Bluetooth device to allow it to broadcast in F.M
10. Listen to the Swedish Bluetooth voice chick tell you which channel to switch your radio to.
11. Tune your radio to that channel
12. Scroll through the IPod to find the song you want to play.
13. Press play.
14. Don't forget to plug your IPod into your cigarette lighter to keep it powered.
15. Pray you have two cigarette lighters in your car.
Its enough to make you hate music altogether
Remember getting your first bike? I remember getting my first bike. It is one of my fondest memories. My "new dad" purchased a shiny new yellow and blue Huffy dirt bike and hid it in the closet. My friend Dave Horney calls it having a "Zap" moment. A moment that you don't see coming, but when it does - it leaves a permanent imprint on your psyche. That day was a "Zap" moment for me.
Mom and New Dad being there as I was prompted to open the closet door. It was like when they opened the Ark of the Covenant for the first time...
Memories of being overwhelmed with elated ecstasy and literally becoming giddy as a school boy. I rode that bike everywhere I went and truly rode it until it couldn't function anymore and broke down into an unrepairable heap of useless metal.
Kids today don't ride bikes. Its somehow beneath them, at least in my neighborhood. They would rather skateboard or get mom and dad to taxi them to and fro. My daughter has had two bikes, both she probably rode once. Both since given away to goodwill. Hell, alot of them including my own, have no interest in getting their license. Either they are too lazy, entitled, or scared to get the freedom they claim to desire.
Remember getting your license THE DAY you turned 16? I surely do. I lost it the same day I got it too. Something about having two chicks in Dad's minivan until 4:30 AM as I recall. Sorry Dad...but it was worth the 2 weeks grounding.
Passing notes in class has been replaced with texting. Graffitting a bathroom wall with the phone number of some chick's whorish ways has been replaced with posting it on Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and whatever the next Mytwitfacefucktube is.
We did reports with books not webpages. We used Encyclopedia's not Wikipedia. We hand wrote 5 pages of stuff for our teachers and when we could, we would type it using an electric typewriter and a shitload of correction tape. I can still remember the smell the typewriter would emit when a crapload of the type hammers got tangled together. It made an evil hissing noise and stunk like hot ink, which was exactly what you got all over your fingers when trying to unravel them.
Dictionary's have been replaced with spellchecks.
Spellchecks have been replaced with little red underlines that sit and laugh mockingly at your lack of spelling skills until you right click, select, and left click it into submission.
When was the last time you received a handwritten letter from a friend? I still, to this day, have a majority of my love letters and notes that were given to me by girlfriends of 80's past. Sorry Nicole Bentz. I'm sorry that your desire to "wake up next to me every morning for the rest of your life" just didn't work out.
E-mail has destroyed the art of writing on paper with a pen and ink. For about a year before my grandmother passed away in 2006, I would write her frequently. Hand written letters, using actual ink, in cursive, on "stationary" sent via an organization known as the "US Mail Service". I thought she would appreciate the old school way of it all. The irony of the situation was that she would respond back to me via E-mail or in a typed Word Document. I laughed, but continued to hold onto the past until her letters stopped suddenly in April 06. I miss you Grandma.
I'm not sure if they still broadcast Saturday morning cartoons or not, but they were a big deal in my day. I watched The Smurfs, GI Joe, He-Man, and I think I even remember a cartoon that involved Hulk Hogan.
My sister watched Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. Any fights over the TV were always settled in her favor - by dad. Ask her...she will tell you.
Then the Cartoon Network came along and provided kids of today with 24 access to animated tomfoolery. Along with Playstation, Sega, Nintendo, and some other green looking video game system I can't remember the name of right now. Yes, I know...we had Atari. But those games didn't cost $50 a pop and got boring after about 2 hours which then allowed us to go back outside and play.
Play meant building forts, clubhouses, killing Charlie, baseball, Garbage Pail Kids, and bike riding. Today, kids don't or can't play like that. They are too busy killing prostitutes and cops on video games that shouldn't exist, Myspace-ing their half-naked bodies to the world while holding up trendy peace signs with their fingers, and surfing free porn that is much easier to find than it was for me at that age. And finding stuff hardcore enough to make even Larry Flint flinch. What is a Bukakke anyway?
The other day I was at a class for work. During the break I was checking my texts. There were none, so then I decided to check Facebook.
Then I decided to check my Email.
Then I decided to start a little game that comes with the cell phone.
As my game started I glanced up at my table mates who were all doing the same thing. Staring at our little electronic contraptions and using them as an excuse to not converse with one another. I felt like texting my coworker sitting across the table from me. After all, who really talks to anyone anymore?
Maybe its about time to put down the Cell phones.
Wait....I just got a text.........