Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Evrthng Bd s Gd LOL

Last Word - Archers of Loaf (mp3)

There's this book, Everything Bad is Good for You by Stephen Johnson.
And there's these articles about the potential damages heavy texting might be doing to young minds (NYTimes, CBS, Examiner.com).
And then there's the fun link: texts from last night

[There's also this song, "Everything Good is Bad" by JJ Grey and Mofro, which I previously used, but only briefly due to techno-glitch, but I'm throwing it in here because that band kicked raw butt at Nightfall in Chattanooga last week.]

Tennessee just passed a law that bans drivers from texting.

But it doesn't ban lots of other fun stuff. I can still fidget and screw with my iPod as it sits attached to my cigarette lighter. I can still reach into my glove compartment and search for some napkins and commence cleaning up the Whopper that just collapsed all over my lap. I can still drive with my knees. I can still rub my wife's shoulders or hold my head out the window like Ace Ventura. And I can sure as hell still talk on my cell phone, not to mention use a GPS device or any number of iPhone "apps" while driving, all without being fined for breaking a law.

But if I'm texting? Im fukd.

Not to say I don't appreciate the motivation behind the law, because I do. Teenagers do more texting than talking. And teenagers -- no offense young readers -- are statistically the shittiest drivers this side of Clara "Where's the Beef?" Peller or the old lady in Ferris Bueller. (Yes, I'm proud of those two references. -- billy)

Teen males drive too fast and recklessly to deal responsibly with something vibrating in their pocket. Teen girls struggle to avoid mailboxes and garage doors and parked cars, and they text in much longer strings (because they actually think in sentences as opposed to quippy one-liners like guys). Neither of them need yet one more thing distracting them from what is an underappreciated skill, which is to say "keeping it between the ditches."

But to so nakedly punish one distraction while completely ignoring so many that fall into the same general category is just... well, that's Tennessee for you, Land of the Third Worst State for High School Education, whose graduates become our politicians.

Much of Adult America is worried sick that texting is going to erode the last remaining brain cells of our already half-vegetated children. Or, at least, that's what a number of reporters and studies would have you conclude.

But if we're that worried, like really really worried, then why are so many parents purchasing so many plans that allow for so much damn texting for their kids? Further, if texting is so unhealthy for teenagers, why are more and more adults fighting so damned hard to catch up to said teens' texting productivity? Five years ago (was it even five years ago??), texting was almost exclusively a teenage phenomenon. Same with Facebook. And we adults have swooped down, seen these addictive distractive wonderful useful things and claimed them for ourselves at the same time we're decrying them for those precious, vulnerable and easily manipulated teenagers.

So text messaging finds me stuck in the miserable grey area of the Infamous Slippery Slope. If I'm going to acknowledge that texting only seems bad when we're talking about teens, and that when it comes to adults, we mostly think it's a peachy keen and useful tool, then how far down do I slide before I start having to reconsider other supposed "vices"? Like alcohol. Like sex.

Adults seem to try and protect teenagers from these very "adult" things, because kids aren't mature enough to handle them properly.

Well shit. I don't know what newspapers or web sites you've been reading lately, but last I could see, adults aren't doing a bang-up job of handling their liquor, or their sex drives, or their firearms, or much of anything else to be honest with you. It would be nice to tell you that pornography is the top subject for Google because of them damn teenagers, but you know it ain't true. We men lead that charge, by gum.

All of which has me in quite the pickle as I rethink the protective instincts of adults constantly battling the exploratory and experimental nature of youth. Maybe the youth are supposed to win those battles. Maybe adults are supposed to fail in trying to catch them. Kind of like the park ranger always failing to catch Yogi and BooBoo. Maybe the only way Those Meddling Kids turn into really strong adults, the kind we can be proud of, is if we let them solve the mysteries while we bumble around and ask them to program our TiVos for us.

At least, that's where I am on July 6 at 10 p.m. Who knows where I'll be on it by July 8? Just check my Twitter account. Not that I have one, but I'm 37, so it's gonna take me a little longer to catch up to them whipper-snappers.


Goofytakemyhand said...

Tennessee politicians are capable of passing a law that doesn't involve firearms? Who knew?

Third Worst State for High School Education? Isn't that an improvement from past years?

"Tennessee, Tennessee/ there ain't no place I'd rather be/
Baby won't you carry me/ back to Tennessee."

strangers_have_the_best_candy said...

Cheap shot on the driving Billy. No matter how true it might be. We suck at driving. By the way. Thanks for the awesome economy your generation left for us. Anyway I gotta go. I just got a text.

BeckEye said...

I'm still waiting for all states to ban walking and texting.

Billy said...

Goofy -- Yes, Tennessee education is on the rise, baby! We're aiming for 48th with a bullet! (Um, metaphorically.)

Strangers -- Your response might well be one of my Top 5 All-Time Favorite responses to any of my posts ever. Thank you from the bottom of my tin but sincere heart.

Beck -- It's gonna happen. At least until they start implanting phones in our brains. Which I predict will happen at least by 2042.