Friday, July 3, 2009

continuity and connections

One of the things that's lacking these days is continuity between the current generation and the next, and the next. We are all sort of clumped together with invisible walls of memory separating us.

at this point the only thing that binds us at all is shared music. Many kids listen to and really dig "grampy's music", and many older people can find something in newer stuff that appeals. However.

One of the biggest boons to connecting the generations that I can remember was the TV. Not because of the inane programming that gave us the Honeymooners and I Love Lucy, but the fact that TV was so new no one had anything to put there, so they plugged in an Afternoon Matinee and a Saturday Matinee and on Sunday you would get a classy movie on Hallmark Hall of Fame. no current ones, there was some sort of time differential there and the studios were reluctant to part with the good ones just yet. There were weeks when you could probably watch four movies a day and two at night. That is a LOT of movies, folks.

As a kid I watched any movie that was on TV--all the way from silent movies with Charlie Chaplin and Ben Turpin to Mae West seducing a very young Cary Grant to Hepburn and Tracy. Even something called "Hitler's Children" which was apparently about eugenics and quite chilling. What it gave me, and any other kid who watched these things, was a sense of what it was like before us. Oh, granted, prettied up or dramatized, but the clothes, the styles, the way the world looked, and mores and morality, even the way people talked, all sunk in. This was different, this was what it was like, and we understood that things change, and a lot of it was familiar on a personal basis because of our parents, grandparents, and even older sibs. The connections stay with you. Movies don't create stuff, they mirror it, and it's the small details that resonate.

We looked at the family photo albums, pictures of groups of women ('that's Aunt Alice and Aunt Sarah and I'm in the middle, didnt my hair look funny") that turned out to be your mother and her sisters, or a little boy who grew out of his knickers and leather cap, and is now Daddy. We sang songs that had been sung for lord knows how many generations, and all of these things connected us.

I saw an interesting ad not too long ago, suggesting that the family that uses electronic 'toys" is a close knit family. However, if you study the ad you will see that the boy is at the computer, daughter is texting someone, mom is on the cellphone, and daddy is watching TV. Being in the same room with three other people is NOT bonding, not if you are all doing something that requires your full attention elsewhere.

And where once your family included the very old and all the ages in between, sometimes right next door or across the street, now more often than not you grow up never having truly interacted with anyone over the age of, say, 35 or 40.

We've lost something important, and that's kinda sad.


  1. yep, too bad the kids today cant grow up in a perfect world the way we did. They are missing out on milking cows, an outhouse. getting their drinking water from a hand dug well. Chopping wood. Their music sucks, but they have it much easier. Is easier better?? Im not sure.

  2. well, when I consider the choices we made as kids, and the choices (good and bad) these kids have to deal with, I wonder who had it easier. Our biggest drug was cigarettes, our biggest to choices involved sex and/or beer.

    Kids today seem to have a great deal of pressure on them from a LOT of directions to experiment, to commit, and to excel. Often, just to survive.

    I wouldnt want to be a parent having to deal with kids in those situations, it's like a minefield out there, it seems.

    Our pressures and choices were more church/family/society mandated, I think theirs are more personal.

  3. err, make that "two" choices not "to" choices...