Friday, January 24, 2014

The Times, Are They a Changin’?


I oscillate back and forth when trying to decide if I actually grew up in a more innocent time, or if the world now is just so much better connected and reported—I’m pretty sure there are no true secrets these days—that everything seems more tainted than it really is.

And why do I wonder this today?  Because Justin Bieber has been arrested for drunk driving.  And Miley Cyrus is . . . well, honestly, I don’t know what she is.  The word lost comes to mind.  And they’re far from the only teen idols making headlines for things having nothing to do with their particular talents.

Of course, these idols aren’t exactly teens anymore (well, technically Bieber is, but not for much longer), but they are the people our teens look up to, and I have to wonder sometimes if this is really the best we can do these days.  But that’s when I start wondering about earlier days.

I grew up with Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, and Michael Jackson, among others.  While I can’t really recall any scandal surrounding Osmond (though that doesn’t mean there wasn’t), Cassidy certainly dealt with his own demons, and we all know what happened to MJ.  And I’m sure there were others of the day who had their own issues, too. 

But back in my day, if you wanted to read about these heartthrobs, you had to shell out for a copy of Tiger Beat, or something.  You couldn’t just turn on the TV and let the 24 hour news channel fill you in on their troubles, and there was no internet to both glorify and vilify the behavior.  So the problems still seemed to be there, but without so much of a spotlight.

Which, of course, makes me wonder about other aspects of life.  I never heard of a school shooting in my youth, but there were groups of people openly called “hoods”, and, in retrospect, I guess I’d be surprised if at least one or two of those hoods wasn’t armed with something more than a bad attitude and a sneer. 

As for drugs and/or alcohol, I’ve always been with the goody two-shoes crowd, but even I knew which kids I could reach out to if I wanted to partake.  The substances that are readily available might have changed some, but my guess is they’re not any easier to come by than they’ve always been.

And, in terms of bullying, we didn’t talk about it so much back when I was a kid, but it certainly still existed.  In a way, it may have even been more common, since there was a definite attitude of “kids will be kids”, rather than understanding the harm that was being done.

So, was the world a kinder, gentler place in generations past?  I’m still not sure.  Maybe.  Or maybe it was just a little more relaxed, things happening in just a little bit of slow motion compared to today.  Or maybe it’s just a nostalgic haze that makes the old days seem different even when they were exactly the same.  Either way, I’m pretty sure that every generation of fifty year olds have looked at the antics of the current crop of teen idols and wondered exactly when the world became such a crazy place, so in that regard, I guess things really do remain the same.