Maybe I’m being foolish, but I worry. I’m usually a very easygoing guy (if anything ever happens where TV news crews roll out to interview my neighbors, they’ll say ‘He seemed so nice and quiet’. Though they’ll probably add that ‘He did go on long walks with that cat though. That seemed weird…’. But, as usual, I digress.
I love finding new authors and original voices. While I may occasionally find myself to be jealous of the commercial success of an author or two, I believe in supporting people who have the skills to bring stories to life with the written word. I’m just afraid that we might find their numbers decreasing as less people grow up with childhoods that are interesting. Or where they actually do anything at all.
Okay, I’ll admit that I have a cell phone. And a tablet. And a computer. And cable television at home… But I had none of those things growing up (unless you count a Tandy computer from Radio Shack without color or any redeeming qualities whatsoever so I definitely don’t). Without those, I read (even going to the local library on a regular basis), and played baseball and football and soccer with my friends.
During the summer months we’d be dashing outside as soon as we woke up and barely saw the inside of a house during daylight hours. We learned the hard way not to attack bee’s nests with an aerosol can. I came millimeters away from shooting a bottle rocket up Lindsey’s nose when I was surprised to discover that the lighter we’d found actually did have a little bit of fluid left inside. We launched walnuts that dropped out of the trees in our yards out into the rest of the neighborhood using tennis rackets. We built dangerous forts with heavy, rusted and sharp-edged metal sheets that had been abandoned by a failed manufacturing company. We may not have been the smartest in some of the things that we did, but we all have plenty of stories to tell. One hour of watching cartoons on a Saturday morning followed up with a “get out of the house” decree ensured that we’d find our own entertainment.
Differences are great and no one has to have a childhood like mine. But memorizing the broadcast schedule of every televised cartoon doesn’t make a kid a genius. Being able to quote every episode of every Disney, Disney Jr. or Nick Jr. shows isn’t a sign of brilliance. Being able to pull up brightly colored apps on electronic devices isn’t a learning game. Not when these same little wonders are going to school at a later age than we used to, haven’t even started to read or write, and can’t tell a letter from a number.
I’m not trying to judge. They’ll learn. They’ll grow up and do whatever grown ups do. But if they’re not kicked off their devices and kicked out the door to see what the real world is really like, they might not have much of anything interesting to say to the rest of us. With very few crazy experiences and too little imagination to make any up, I can’t see them forming the next generation of writers.
But, lest you think I’m a complete book vs. TV snob, I’ll end with a quote from a TV character you might know…
“And that’s what really grinds my gears…”