I’ve learned many things in my life – from books, from school, from experience and none are as valuable as those lessons I’ve learned from the lives and experiences of my parents and grandparents. Watching the adults in your life as a child you get to see a glimpse of what being an adult is going to be like, even if you don’t recognize it at the time. You are blessed with a years of experience that you didn’t have to actually live through but you are able to still draw the conclusions from those experiences as if you had. You watch decisions being made – good, bad or indifferent and are a spectator to the inevitable outcomes. It’s like gambling using someone else’s money.
So why do so many millennials dismiss those lessons. Dismiss the advice, ignore the missteps and harbor strange notions that we are all somehow immuned to the issues that faced previous generations? And why do we assume that “our” way, that somehow “progress” such that it is, somehow holds better answers? Man, Google has made us so smart! Guess what kids – it hasn’t…reading about a thing and living a thing are two very different universes! World Wars, Depressions, Recessions, Disease outbreaks, Racism and the rest of it still happen – every single day. Just because we write more of it down, share more it, are seemingly more self-aware or reflective doesn’t mean we know more than those that came before. I wager that we actually know far less.
Now this conversation could spur a hundred others – socio-economic debates, banter about being egocentric and ethnocentric and quite honestly we should have those conversations.
How is it that by creating a global network where people are infinitely connected in a million different ways we have actually taken huge leaps backwards in social evolution? The World Wide Web has shown all of us humanities true colours – anger and hate – cyber bullying is the apparently the latest hobby for many, sexual exploitation and perversion are the new norm – just look at how Porn has flourished and not to mention the fact that there are probably half a billion people living among millions of other people who have never felt so alone. There is an increase (or so it would seem) in mental health issues that if you study sociology and psychology are directly linked to social primates being deprived social order….see baby monkey and the wire mama. Replacing actual humans with cyber humans is not the same thing. People are spending way more time on self-reflection and trying to find meaning and purpose in life when 30, 50 , 100 years ago people were just too darned busy living it to do so. Too preoccupied by survival one could argue to bother. Their purpose was survival, it was living day to day, it was working, family life, community – there was no time for anything else. We have made everything so quick and convenient that we’ve efficiently evolved ourselves out of a purpose. There was a study I read in university about what happens to culture when people have too much leisure time – likely linked to the phrase “Ideal hands” but its true bored monkeys are sad monkeys. Basically cultures that “evolved” to the point where the leisure time they so desperately wanted actually was the end of them…perhaps Rome wasn’t built in a day but once it was built it seems they didn’t have much else to do but fit amongst themselves, try to destroy other “lesser” civilizations and find new and interesting ways to flaunt wealth.
We challenge ourselves with silly distractions – see Pokemon Go and become overly involved hover parents laying the proverbial “coat over the puddle” down for our precious babes. We toss our relationships aside like yesterday’s news because “she always gets what she wants” or “he gets to go out twice a week when is it my turn” or “why does she always get to pick the salad dressing”….we’ve become whiney entitled children raising whiney entitled children. Guess what life is not fair, you get what you get, no one owes you anything and at the end of the day it is what it is. Enjoy it, find someone to enjoy it with and stop fighting over the remote. Laugh more, stop worrying about what Ned Flanders has, stop buying houses based on your best pay year as a couple and start living your life like you have one income, the rest is gravy because you know what happens – someone gets hurt or sick or fired or decides that they need more and you’re left with one. Money literally does not buy happiness – if it did once people got it they’d stop buying stuff…what it leads to is more and more and more in an endless cycle of never enough.
Stop making your children’s childhood “magical” – childhood is magical without thousand dollar birthday parties, trips to exotic locals or designer clothes. You are not doing your kids any favours! They will grow, finish high school and life will throat punch them into a sobbing pile of “my life is over” before you can say “there’s no place like home”. Stop making them the center of the universe – they are not…I love my kids – I have three that I would take a bullet for but I will not be their maid.
Put your spouse first for a change….stop finding every little thing you’d like to change about them, nurture the relationship (it’s the best gift you can give your kids) and once in a while look up the definition of compromise and remember that their happiness was once and should still be your number 1 priority.
Stop buying things you don’t have money for! That’s a big one. And by money I mean actual tangible cash not pretend electronic pay for it in installments or ten years later but the stuff you can dump out on your counter. If you cannot pay for it you should not buy it and that’s another wonderful bit of wisdom to pass down. Teach your kids that money doesn’t grow on trees but fruit does and they should know that – know that someone works hard to grow it, pick it and where the heck it comes from.
Enjoy your life and not your “fake” online life where you have perfect families and kids and houses but the dirty laundry room, kid melting down in the grocery line, weed-filled lawn stuff too. Life is too short and you are no better or worse than anyone else so take comfort in that, laugh at the foibles, help others find a smile through theirs and move on.
Find true and honest joy in the happiness of others and do what you can to bring others happiness. Help out. Talk to people. Support people. Don’t collect ammunition or relish in their short-comings.
Work hard. Older generations knew and know the meaning of this…not the constant pursuit of a better job that means more money and less work. Take pride in your efforts you deserve it, nothing is more rewarding than sweating for a few hours and looking back at what you have accomplished. That is true purpose. We are after all just primates and our true joy comes from being social, using tools, problem solving and physical exertion…think about it….the gorilla at the zoo has the best diet, the best toys, structures “gorilla-geared” activities, the perfect mate, help with the little gorillas, the best medical care…I’m still betting the gorilla in Rwanda fighting a rival, hunting for scarce food, dodging poachers is still a million times happier and more fulfilled. Perspective…it’s a marvelous thing.
Now I am certainly no genius and quite possibly wrong at least 400 times a day but life is for the errors…without them how would we ever learn or grow so I for one am ok with it. I’m ok with people disagreeing with me, it doesn’t threaten me it inspires me to know more, work harder and evolve. I like to think that people’s differences actually make us all better. After all androids would be so boring. We dream, aspire and have crazy notions and hey now we get to share them with the world. We should all be doing more of that. Using forums to help, to inform, to share, to support instead of all the negative stuff.
There should be internet police, like traffic cops that ticket you for being an asshole. A girl can still dream can’t she?