Life has been so chaotic the last three months (mostly in an exciting way!), that my own blogging has suffered. I decided to compromise and take time with the blogs of others, and this one is a thought-provoking treasure. From the Work From the Other Side blog post: What are your core beliefs?. It prompted thinking when I hadn’t budgeted time for thinking so it must be pretty good, and I shuffled the morning to plan my response.
I made it through high school without the usual traps of peer pressure. If it sounded stupid or dangerous, or if it threatened to limit potential and prohibit my becoming president (if I wanted to, which I didn’t but couldn’t rule it out at age 12), I just didn’t do it.
My parents weren’t big on rules, and didn’t need them with me. I was “a good kid”, but two behavior control concepts really made their job easy. 1. I was told outright by my mother that I alone was responsible for my own actions – no excuses, no blame. 2. My dad’s (he’s a lawyer) contribution to my good behavior was to inform me that any federal offense, especially drugs, would land on a real permanent record, a permanent record of the universal kind, not just the high school kind, and prohibit me from running for president. As an apolitical kid, I don’t know why the president thing struck such a cord but it did. I could not accept unnecessary limitations.
The public school reinforced the message in a junior high health class where I was told that drugs posed a present and future danger. LSD integrated your DNA and could cause flashbacks at any time and limit the potential of any child I might have. I didn’t want my own potential limited, it was absolutely unacceptable to limit the potential of my future kid. And as we sang when playing the game “Wonder Ball”*, Drugs were “O” “U” “T” – Out. Peer pressure could not loosen the good behavior knot those three tenets tied.
But here at mid-life, it’s back. And I feel myself slipping; how is it possible when I should be more committed to my true self with age and knowledge, that my adult life would be so wrought with peer-pressure to buy gadgets.
I don’t have a smart phone, or a GPS, and I work on a PC instead of a Mac – I am not an electronics early adopter. And, I can sense the confusion and ultimate disdain from my peers when that knowledge is shared. The subtle and overt pressure – how can you do business without this or that? “This or that” referring to some electronic “thing” purchased with the understanding it would be discarded, while still perfectly functional, for the next iteration. Planned obsolescence from products guaranteed to make life easier, unless of course you factor in the hours worked to buy and sustain the purchase. Then consider the time drain and lack of being in the present where, by the way, the world is actually happening, as we more and more become spectators to life, or rather spectators to other people’s lives. From an early age I knew I didn’t want to do as Timothy Leary suggested “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” whether through drugs or electronics.
And yet, all the cool kids seem to have those items and to imbue them with a mystical sense of success causality. And I visit the gadgets in the electronics departments and begin to hear their siren songs. “You’ll be a better person, never miss a client’s call, never be without the perfect word or fact.” And I turn them over in my hand, looking for a brain and heart and check out the going cost of wisdom today. And so far, I’ve walked away, heading home to crowd out their calls by flooding my brain with other words, words from geniuses and comics and average folk, immersing myself in my Nook.
*“The Wonder Ball goes round and round, to pass it quickly you are bound. If you’re the one to hold it last, the game has passed, and you are Out, “O” “U” “T” – Out.” The words pretty much explain the game, a sphere tossing version of musical chairs. As they almost say on Project Runway: “Where one minute you are In, and the next, you are Out”.
(c) 2013 by Alison Colby-Campbell