Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday rules

Rule #111: Be kind. I'm behind.
Stop acting so surprised that I don't own a DVR. It's still not that common, particularly among those who live modestly and don't watch all that much television. I have a VCR built into my TV, which perfectly serves my purposes when I need to tape something every couple of years or so. It even has a timer, so I don't have to be there for it to kick in!

We've entered an age where luxurious electronics have become a virtual necessity to many people. Cell phones. Laptops. BlackBerries. Bluetooth. iPhones. High-definition plasma TVs. DVRs. Yes, these are all very nice items, and highly useful in a lot of respects. But there is absolutely nothing in life that requires any of these things, and in fact their over-saturation can make life a lot harder and/or interminable for some.

I've got a bike, a TV that works and a laptop that shocks me only occasionally. And two cell phones I rotate when the other craps out. I get by. And even when I do eventually get a DVR (legally, I have to be the last person in America), chances are I still won't want to talk about that dumb reality show.

Rule #112: Trust me on the smokescreen
Graduation speeches cannot be censored for honesty. When Jem Lugo of Springstead High School in Spring Hill, Fla., wrote her valedictory address, she declared, "I'm not going to put on an act and tell you your future's going to be peachy. No, life is gonna suck sometimes." School officials rejected the speech, forcing her to go with a boilerplate, "You're on the threshold"-type of happy-making laudanum. Her original speech and its replacement received play in the St. Petersburg Times, which means students not only got the message anyway, but learned admirably early that authority is not always looking out for your best interest.

I've graduated three times. Here's what my school's speeches boiled down to:

High school, 1998: "You are on the threshold, yadda yadda yadda, and it's a great time to be going out in the real world because it's 1998 and you'll literally be injured by all of the opportunities being thrown at you."

Bachelor's degree, 2002: "Don't listen to those reports saying 2002 is the worst year ever to graduate. You all have bright futures. The class of 2005, for example, that's who will really have to worry."

Master's degree, 2005: [Couldn't hear speech, due to budget cuts on microphones, but I imagine it was encouraging.]

Why is it so wrong to acknowledge that times are tough? Would that put a damper on the happy day? Perhaps, but there's a difference between acknowledging reality and being depressing for its own sake. I, for one, would have loved a dose of honesty in school or in my speeches. It at least would have made me feel less alone when I struggled for a year to find a job, realizing that everything I was ever told about working hard and finishing school didn't mean jack in a rough, uncaring world. Maybe then I wouldn't have revisited every bit of praise or encouragement I ever got, injecting retroactive cynicism into each one of them. As sharp as I feel like I am, that disconnect made me wonder if I wasn't, in fact, crushingly naive. That's one lesson I never knew I had to study for.

At least in these difficult times, it's on the forefront of peoples' minds. It's the elephant in the auditorium - a red, white and blue elephant. Kids are smart, especially graduating kids. They know things aren't so great. And any effort to repress that is just going to reduce faith in education and authority all the more. They'll figure it out. Help them while you can.

Rule #113: Redo the undo
Blogger must change its platform so that an "undo" doesn't kick you two steps back. Yes, this rule is inspired by some difficulties I had in fixing a glitch on Rule 112.

Rule #114: Socialist studies 101
This endless parade of frustrated right-wingers calling Barack Obama a "socialist" or "communist" must heed the words of one of my friends: "I'm actually a socialist, and Obama disappoints me." Maybe instead of condemning Obama for being anything other than Bush, these critics should pick up a dictionary or actually talk to a socialist. If nothing else, they'd learn the difference between a "socialist" and a "national socialist," the latter of whom are much scarier (and are not my friends). And then they'd realize how much Obama does not fit the socialist mold, as doesn't the majority of the country who voted him in.

Rule #114.5: Remedial socialist studies
Someone will now be bound to say, "Oh, so Ian has socialist friends, huh? That says it all!" Well, not quite. Many of my friends and family members are very conservative. What's your point?

Other rules

1 comment:

Stephanie Bemrose said...

If it makes you feel better, I have a TiVo ... that's broken. But I still have the lifetime subscription paid on it, so I intend to get it fixed ... eventually.

I'll read more of your blog later ... just skimming it before I leave for my 3-day weekend.