Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hide and Seek

Sometimes the weight of life can really press on you.

This oppressive summer, adjusting to a weird work schedule, worrying about career, worrying about money, worrying about society, worrying about political ramifications... blah blah blah. The mind is insanely powerful, but it's also something that ... has a mind of its own. 

Think about your dreams. You have no control over them. You're just along for the ride. Those dreams can be pleasant, or very unpleasant. Deal, because you're not stopping them.

There's been a lot of loose madness this year. Aurora. Wisconsin. Syria. I think we're living in a really unsettled time. The latest insanity is the debate that flared up Sunday when a congressman who could become a senator issued forth some idiotic, anti-reality views about rape.

It's 2012. Yet we have people who are clearly out of touch with reality in a position to be joining others like him in determining the rules the rest of us have to live by.

People are arguing about whether or not rape is "legitimate." How can this be?


In a couple of days my daughter starts college. I'm worried about her. More worried than I know how to deal with.

I know that college can be a dangerous place. The world can be a dangerous place. Hell, it IS a dangerous place. I wonder if she's ready. And she is 18 and smarter than everyone else so the things I want her to think about are falling on deaf ears.

Never have the rifts among us been greater. For all the progress humanity has made, why is there still so much strife? Whites vs. Blacks and Browns. Men vs. Women. Left vs. Right. Religion vs. Religion. Rich vs. Poor. Straight vs. Gay. There's so much division. It's overwhelmingly sad.

How do we fix this? I feel like we're all so far apart.


I saw a guy yesterday riding a scooter with a phone pressed between his ear and his shoulder. Stupid, risky and... why? What could be so important? And I heard a story of a young girl looking at her phone and walking right into the side of a car.

Some people think the world has gotten smaller, and that technology has brought us together. With Facebook we are able to find long lost people and keep those links to our old lives open. Everyone has a phone so we can talk to anyone at any time. That's connectedness, right?



I'm not sure it is. This technology has put a cold layer, a fence, a DISTANCE, between us. Everything is done electronically. Very little is done with a truly human interaction. You don't see someone's face. You see a picture. You don't smell them, share their air, see them smile or unless on a phone hear them laugh. You don't notice how their hair is messed up or falls a certain way, you don't see their mannerisms, you can't touch them.

Instead they sit alone and you sit alone and try to pretend that you are together.

I'm not sure I like the way this has gone.


I read yesterday that half a billion people were "unfriended" on Facebook last year. I've contributed to that. But it's kind of cold. Click a button and someone is "deleted."

I know some people who have programs that tell them when and who has done this. They get pissed when their little collection breaks free.

But what these people don't get is that human interaction isn't a contest, and you shouldn't be keeping score.


This weird dynamic that is "just the way things are" today is part of what worries me about my daughter's impending collegiate experience.

Kids starting college this week are the 9/11 generation. My daughter was 7 when that happened. Probably one of the first things these freshmen vividly remember is this terrible thing, but at the same time... was it, is it, real to them? Even those of us who knew what it was about had this odd feeling that it almost seemed like a Jerry Bruckheimer action scene.

So within months we were at war, and within two years, another. These kids have lived during war almost their whole lives, but with one huge difference: Unlike wars past, they never knew that one day they'd have to be the ones fighting them. I think when it was a requirement that people had to perform military service, there was a lot more pressure to make sure that human capital wasn't wasted.

There's a significant disconnect among young people. That's another war: Reality vs. Perception. Kids today think "reality" is what they see on TV. They even call it "reality television" even when it's impossible for that intrusive and inherently artificial setting to be real.

With the erosion of journalism and the partisanship that's in place and on public display on TV and all around us, Michael Moore was prescient and right. We live in fictitious times.

It takes work to find the truth because it isn't readily available. If it doesn't come to us, we're too distracted to seek it out. And if it lasts too long, we're too ADHD to soak it in.

How does a young person fight through all this? What if they haven't had the guidance to know how to find out what's really real?

Clearly even a lot of people of my generation are disconnected from reality. Otherwise, there would be no need to use a term like "forcible rape."


Into this crazy world my daughter sets forth.

I feel like the stakes are higher for her, and that she and many others on her journey are unaware of the dangers.

I don't want harm to befall her. I worry about her being around Wooderson types and the other con artists in that world. And there's not much I can do about it. If I thought prayer would work, I would try it.

My daughter isn't stupid, but she's inexperienced, and you don't have to be dumb to make mistakes.

I made mistakes, and I did dumb things, and I was lucky not to get more burned by any of them than I was. But I wasn't a woman, so I already had an easier path regardless.

I had also seen, by age 18, a lot of negativity that I associated with alcohol. So I never really drank that much, and certainly less than 75 percent of the people around me. I don't like barfing, I don't like falling down, I don't like getting the spins, I don't like having to pee every five minutes, I don't like peeing on myself, I don't like drunks. So alcohol had less appeal. I preferred to be a little more in control. And there were other ways to maintain control and still have fun.

Nevertheless, when I went to college I (like a lot of kids) struggled with how to manage all that freedom. I allotted too much time to fun, and not enough to the goal. And I paid for that, for a long, long time. 

And I was lucky to live in an age that was a little less mean. And a lot more connected. You couldn't tell someone to fuck off on Facebook, you had to tell it to their face. And that inhibited some of that bluster and bravado.

So now you CAN tell someone to fuck off on Facebook, but the aftermath can be the same as if you did say it to their face. And as we've seen in recent years, there are plenty of unbalanced people running around out there.

I don't know if I could NAME 500 people, much less 500 I consider "friends." Try it. Name 500 people.

Hell, name 100. Don't count family. Go.

Thought so.

Yet we invite hundreds of more or less strangers into our lives. And the more you add, the more likely that some of those people are going to be ... out there.

That's why it was probably better when your "friends" were usually people you actually met.

Now, the online access has changed MY life. I met my M online, and have met some true friends online. These people I hope are in my life forever. So I'm not suggesting that the online world should be chucked, that's ridiculous. But there needs to be a balance, and there needs to be perspective.

And sometimes the perspective of the young takes a little more seasoning than they've gotten to that point.


All these thoughts were spurred by the song posted at the top of this, "Hide and Seek" by Ani DiFranco. When men can hold government office and not know what "rape" is, it should worry any man who has a daughter set to enter the adult world. Ani's song talks about the abuse men perpetrate against women. These women are then left to deal with the consequences, emotionally for the rest of their lives.

And, if the GOP has its way, the women who are raped would be forced to bear the children of their abusers.

That's INSANE.

And that's the world my daughter is potentially subject to. And it scares me, because she doesn't know.


  1. You've said it all well.

    Although when you touched on war, I do believe there's a disconnection there too. If you do not watch the news (and you would have to watch international news, at that) you don't even know this country has been in a war. We don't suffer the bombing, we don't see or smell the blood. The consequences on this side of the war are more subtle. If you pay too much attention to the MTV reality shows, those consequences will just go unnoticed.
    We only noticed when it comes close to us. A friend, a family member goes to war, then you feel it.

    I often wondered why this country was so disconnected. Why it's always been like that. I think it's because of the vastness of the territory. It's easy to ignore reality when you have room to move around freely. It's easier to ignore when you've been oppressed if that room to move around is taken from you little by little.

    I'm also craving a more connected reality for myself and for those around me. But it's hard, isn't it..

    Your daughter will be fine. Specially if she knows she can come to you if things are not fine.

  2. B, the vastness probably IS a factor, as is this: Outside of 9/11, the blood and conflict has never really touched anyone on home turf.

    Whereas in a place like El Salvador, I'm sure there isn't a family that wasn't touched by what happened in the 80s. It's going to be the same for a long time in Syria, in Iraq, the list goes on. M tells me stories about living in Israel... smaller countries can't hide from this stuff, because the war/conflict is not on TV, it's in the front yard. That's a really good point you make about what enhances the disconnect here.