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Digital Mary Poppins: The Reality of What We See, What is, and Whose Teaching it
It’s no secret that our culture is saturated by media. Some might even argue over saturated. Ever since the 1980’s, new technology has become a more and more an integral part of our lives. Each new generation that is born becomes more tech savvy than their parents, with new avenues to explore and lifestyles to consider. Perhaps the biggest effect is how media has more or less becomes Mary Poppins of the 21st century family.
By that comparison, I’m speaking of the increasing role our technology and entertainment has taken in the development and beliefs of the youth’s mindset. These youth then come into their own in their late teens and twenties and proselytize their ethics that they were baptized in: no intolerance, mistrust of institutions and the goals of self fulfillment and success as the highest of priorities. Through all of this though, it brings with it the undercurrent message that what we see and listen to is automatically the truth and should be obeyed.
This not to say that the media is evil or we should go back to horse and carts. There’s a lot of tech and media that I love having now that makes what I do a lot easier than it would have years past. And many of the modern values I whole-heartedly support about respecting other people and trying to make the world better place. However, ever since the eighties, there has been this growing assumption that media is truth and that truth expected immediate compliance. Who would dare question it?
Where I see this the most is with Millennials and the current generation dealing with social issues. They grew up with people who were openly gay in schools. And that the idea of fluid, changing sexual identity is not that strange. Experimented more openly with sex and more openly liberal sexual values even by Hippie standards, and most importantly, any offense to human rights deemed prejudiced is wrong. In fact, it’s so wrong that it needs to be stomped out, removed from our sight. Most of these ideals I agree with, but it striking how frustrated people get when they see the implementation of these values not automatically followed.
Why would someone be against people trying to be happy? Or go so far as to kill others who disagree with their chosen lifestyle? They should stop worrying about others and just get over it. It’s their lives and no one else has the right to tell them otherwise. Seems so simple.
And yet time and time again, despite legal rulings and movies and celebrities championing their values, and Twitter rage, they find themselves still having to fight these battles against an entrenched establishment that for some fucking reason refuses to bend or give way. Cops still shoot and profile minorities, despite what we learned in school about the 1960’s civil rights and the changes that were supposed to have occurred.
While there are many similarities between the sixties’ generation and the current one in regards to social responsibility, and while our society is clearly the descendants of that age, one thing seems to differ. The idea that to get the world you believe in, sometimes you have to fight and sacrifice for it. When someone says something blatantly racists or misogynist, we get on the phones immediately on Twitter to blast them and create a twitter storm. I think there’s an honest expectation that yelling at the top of how fast you can type your capital letters, is expected make them stop. What if they don't and continue anyway?
Progressive Youtubers will jump to their accounts to vlog about the travesty that occurred, calling people to support the cause, or their channel. Facebook becomes flooded with memes, jokes, and insults all directed at shaming the offenders. Maybe that makes us feel better. I know I’ve done it, but what if the offenders ignore the shame tactics like Donald Trump has done?
Payment on the Table
Yes, human respect should be automatic, but the reality is that people often choose not to follow that creed: least so when it becomes a thorn in their lifestyle. Protesting Hippies and civil rights fighters seemed to understand this. Arrests and fights were common sights because the entrenched establishment did not want to change. Sometimes people even died. Their movies and shows were more about maintaining the status quo of the classic nuclear family and American apple pie: believe in your government, believe in your religion, believe in your traditions and everything will be all right just like before.
So the question is how far is the current generation of social responsibility willing to go for their world? What price are they willing to pay, if-god forbid, it comes to it? Because one thing is clear. The powers that do not share their values are not going to go away because Taylor Swift sang a song or John Oliver did a special. Neither here or in other places of the world that prefer their traditional values to the more secular ones.
Media and technology are going to be apart of our lives for the foreseeable future and are not going away. However, they are still only tools. They have no inherent ethic or moral construct but the hand that types on it. Our lifestyle is more stressful and hectic, but we must be careful that this tool doesn’t end supplanting our responsibility to form our own values rather than letting someone else on a screen do it for us. Otherwise we can become easily manipulated into believing something that maybe truly horrific and we wouldn’t even realize it.