Sunday, August 22, 2010

Random thoughts

I just brought my daughter back to college and spent the day with her driving, unpacking, going to lunch, etc. I came away with some observations, nothing terribly stunning but interesting:

1) Despite all the political activism to save Darfur, getting colleges to divest in certain investments, etc., it seems the activism ends at inconvenience. The latest big issue is the boycott of Target and Best Buy for their political contribution to a far right candidate in Minnesota. When I asked my daughter whether she thought students would honor the boycott, she said no. "Yeah, and buy stuff like water bottles at the bookstore? They just rip you off. The students can just walk to Target and get it for half the price.
2) The irony of being connected is really striking me. My kids are always connected, BBMing, IMing, texting.....but are not really connected. They will always answer my texts, but rarely pick up the phone when I call, even though I know they always have their phones on them. In the middle of a conversation, the thumbs are moving replying to texts they get. My daughter told me how bad it was when her phone broke. She never knew what was going on and when and where people were meeting. It was like being grounded, not being able to participate in the information flow. I used to think it was great to stay so connected with so many people, but something recently made me think of this differently. I got a request for information from a parent who left her phone number but, at the end of the message, left her e-mail address. I was so relieved, because I really didn't want to talk to this person and I could just leave an e-mail. It hit me how electronic communication lacks any intimacy and is so non-threatening but also so distant.

1 comment:

Brooke Allen said...

My wife and I are children of the 60's. For us, college and protest were almost synonymous at a time when the specter of being drafted to fight a war hung heavy.

A few years ago we were taking our sons on a tour of Reed College which you'd think would be the last best hope for 60's radicalism. It looked as plush as Skidmore and Claremont - not a lot of hardship, fear, or self-doubt evident.

My wife asked if the students had protested anything recently. Our backwards-walking tour guide said, "Sure. The administration wanted to bury a water pipe we walk on to cross a ravine and we staged a big protest." We looked at the water pipe and it was an eyesore. We asked if there was anything else and she gave us a look like, "What else do you want?"

Of course we can't blame our children because they are, after all, our children and we raised them (or at least we hired the people who raised them). My generation wasn't against war, we were just against personally fighting them. We weren't against consumerism once someone gave us our own credit cards. We inherited wealth from our parents and are delivering debt to our children. My Woodstock generation has implemented our own worst youthful nightmare.

Our children should be protesting lots of things and they should start by protesting us.