Saturday, 21 April 2012

Do We Really Still Have To Be Talking About This?

Have you ever had to explain something to an obstinate person?  Perhaps this sounds familiar:  You start with a simple premise that everyone agrees on.  Then another.  Then you follow those two to their natural conclusion.  Then you apply that conclusion to your current situation.  Somewhere between step three and four, the obstinate person just says, "no."  No reason.  They just refuse to accept that 4 is the sum of 2 and 2.

Insert head beating on brick wall here.

And now, a prologue.

Am I really going to be one of these?  One of these people who weighs in on election issues?  Ugh.  But I feel compelled. I can't shut up about this one.  And here's why.

(Before I get started, I've realized that I have a very roundabout way of getting to the point of a blog post - first I'll write 3 unrelated paragraphs and make half of you quit reading.  Then, hopefully, I tie them all together for the long-suffering readers.)

I fall into every category of 'privilege' there is: white, male, Christian, heterosexual, corporate... rich (in the local sense not so much, but in the global sense, loaded).  Nearly middle aged (hopefully I'm closer to 33% than 50%, otherwise all this exercise is for naught!).  Do you hate me yet?  I can keep going...

I read a blog that many Albertans read this week, written by a Wildrose Party Candidate a decade ago.  It upset a lot of people.  (Incidentally, if my blog disappears one day, it might be because I'm running for office.  Not that I say anything inflammatory.  I tend to shoot more for thoughtful).  The blog has been taken down, but a gay friend of mine had the forethought to snap a picture of it before it was killed.  This blog made moral issues and 'conscience rights' a major election issue in our provincial election.  Now suddenly people are talking about abortion, and homosexuality, and I'm going, "Holy crap! I'm climbing into my Bel Air and driving the hell back out of the '60's!"

I think the real problem for me is that I read a blogger's post on it. Actually, the problem was the comments.  Is it just me, or are blog commenters the Wal-Mart Shoppers of the internet?  Not my blog's commenters, mind you - I love them all and they've all been very insightful, adding value to my blog.  But truly, where do they come up with these people?

On this blog, the "Christians" (read rednecks) call the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-Gendered, and Queer/Questioning) sinners and freaks, and the LGBTQ crowd call the rednecks, well, rednecks.  Actually bigots.  On this issue, I side with LGBTQ that it's not right for some people's rights to be more inalienable than others.  But that's not the point.

Here's the point: There are actually two things going on here, and people argue about the wrong one.  The (far) more important issue is that, ethically speaking, EVERY human is entitled to respect and dignity.  That SHOULD always remain the heart of the issue.  It's hard to imagine life from a perspective other than your own, but we need to consider our doctrine carefully if it involves heaping judgement on others.  That's hardly the way to convince people you're right.

Conservatives, sorry.  You haven't been to heaven OR hell.  So your conjecture on who ends up where is hurtful and pointless.  And LGBTQ crusaders, when you call someone a bigot and say their beliefs are stupid, are you not doing to someone else exactly what you are so upset that they're doing to you?  This is the second thing that's going on.  This so-called moral debate is actually just an argument because we've hurt each others' feelings.  And no side will ever be able to claim they're right as long as they're spewing vitriol at the other side of the argument.

We're all humans who live in this province together.  It's as if we're all on the same boat, and we're taking turns swinging an axe into the hull to try and prove to the other party how serious we are.  Congratulations - you were the first one to chop a hole in the bottom.  Does that mean you won or lost?

The sad truth is that there are jerks on both sides of any argument.  If we claim to be the most evolved species (or made in God's image, depending on which side you're on...) lets live up to that and keep it constructive.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Engaging, Messaging, Or just Aging?

Hello everyone.

Anyone remember in my first post when I talked about the pros?  A lot of them say to blog daily.  Or at least weekly.  And to them I say, the definition of a 'pro' is someone who is paid (usually well) to do whatever it is they are professing to be a pro at.  So, if you and my other 36 readers want to pay me to stay home from work and write profound thoughts for them, I will be happy to oblige, and I promise that, in return, I will give you wonderful, "value based' (whatever that means) food for thought each day.  If not, you will simply have to wait until my life slows down to the point where I have enough quiet to have a thought that I consider to be worth sharing.

I just clicked over 3 decades, and I've been alive long enough now to see a generation 10 years younger and totally different from mine hit the work force.  10 years difference is a big enough gap to have seen the differences growing up.  These kids watched Barney, then Nickelodeon, then the OC, the Hills, Glee...  They watched Disney movies that didn't portray good vs. evil.  They watched kids shows that found missing shoes, instead of preventing antagonists from stealing all the caring from people's hearts ---

Hey - as an aside - Dude, was child psychology SO far behind when TV writers were writing shows for my childhood? That's effed up!  I can't even SHOW my son the scary crap they called kids programming when I was young. I mean, I think back, and we used to make believe we were orphans.  ORPHANS!

--- Back to the point: these 20 year olds grew up with different parents, in a different time than me.  And now I see that their group has different inclinations and beliefs as they hit the labour force.  And then it gets me thinking - what is my son's generation going to be like?

Why is this running through my head?  Here's why:

I gave up Twitter for the last 2/3 of lent, and now that I'm back, I'm once again finding myself less engaged with my 4 year old for the short time between when I get home and when he goes to bed.  So my question is this:
How is my generation of quasi-engaged parents going to rub off on these kids?  We hold the screens in our hands now, so we can always be a little bit on the computer.  But that also means we're a little bit ignoring our kids.  What's that going to look like when we continue it over 20 years?

Will our kids all be serial killers?  No. I'm not fear or guilt mongering - that's not the point.  And maybe it's impossible to guess how it will shape their experience.  And maybe each individual will experience it differently.  But for better or worse, these kids are growing up in a world where, more than ever, there's more than one thing to be paying attention to at any given time, and that's bound to have consequences - some of which will be easier to anticipate than others.

Know what?  I'm a softy.  My son is at an age where he stops playing to say, "I love you, daddy!" So forgive me for being old school, and wanting to drop my phone in the toilet bowl when I realize it's distracting me from one of the most beautiful times in my relationship with him, and really, in my life in general.

Whether it's family time, meetings, sales calls, spending time with friends or anywhere, I think there should be a policy we all agree on: the human you occupy space with in reality trumps the human you are digitally communicating with.  We need to ENGAGE with each other.  Humans are wired for the warmth of real interaction.  Seriously.  Everyone needs a friend they can hug.  And you can't do that on skype.

So, when you're at the restaurant with your friends, put all your phones in the middle, and the first one to pick theirs up ALSO has to pick up the bill. There will never be a substitute for human contact. And we need to do our kids, and those around us a favour, and remember that they're ACTUALLY THERE!

Do you have a screen story?  What do you suspect will be the consequence of this trend?  I'd love to hear your comments or feedback below.