Where’s the “Social” in Social Media?

~ A heartwarming story, inspired by my childhood ~

Welcome to Joan Estates – a quaint and charming neighborhood where kick the can, manhunt, ultimate Frisbee (and occasional scraped knees) occupied the streets. Fun was always the norm in the ‘hood…and springtime couldn’t smell any sweeter…

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I refer to all of the kids as “the gang,” because we kind of were. I’m talking The Little Rascals – mischief, Alfalfa, Spanky, Darla and all. A weekend in our neighborhood meant bikes, skateboards and roller blades parked at the four corners (the main intersection) under pink cherry blossom trees. My parents dubbed us as the “Scooter Pie Gang.” It was obvious that our cool, shiny Razor Scooters ruled the neighborhood. We were young and free with not a care in the world.

The boys would round up the troops for manhunt – an exciting weekend ritual that was completed with ding-dong-ditch. Playtime continued into warm summer nights and crisp fall afternoons. Before we knew it, fun summer evenings chasing the ice cream truck down the street, street hockey, skateboarding and family Halloween parties transformed into bundling up for holiday caroling and breaking out our snow tubes for the season’s first snow fall. We all tubed down the hill behind our church, and the snow day would never be complete without hot chocolate, movies, popcorn and sleepovers.

Snow Tubing

Believe it or not, I am not writing this article about growing up in the ‘60s.

I’m 21.

As I see fewer kids enjoying the outdoors as I did growing up, I fear that traditions and childhoods like mine may be fewer and farther between…if not becoming non-existent.

It saddens me that the kind of old fashioned fun I had growing up may be the end of the real “social era,” and it is heartbreaking. We enjoyed the simplicity of playing outside and being in fresh air. Cellphones, Facebook and Twitter were not even part of our vocabulary…but rather “come play outside” was an everyday term. Sadly, my neighborhood is noticeably no longer bustling with activity as it was when I was young. In my day, many of the moms and dads were outside with us too. They learned (not easily) how to roller blade with us, taught us how to ride bikes and simply “hung out” together. We had Easter egg hunts, flag football games, lemonade stands, bake sales and block parties. I fear that computers and cell phones are all-too consuming and may have replaced good old-fashioned, creative fun.

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As the New Year begins, I reflect on the beautiful traditions and childhood memories I enjoyed and how very different things seem today. I have come up with some food for thought:

  • Social Media is the now generation, and many are blinded by it. I love social media just as much as the next guy, but it should be enjoyed in healthy doses. Social media should not and cannot replace good old-fashioned socializing, especially when it comes to our younger generation.
  • Time away from Facebook, cell phones and Instagram is critical to our health and well-being. Our society has become alarmingly reliant on social media for entertainment, and it is showcased on many platforms. It is all too common to see people wherever we go staring at their cell phones rather than having eye contact or engaging in conversations.
  • It’s unhealthy to keep up with the Kardashians. In my grandparent’s day they were known as the Jones’s. It’s the same deal now as it was then. It is so important to be reminded that you need to do what works for you, and not feel pressured to do what it looks like everyone else may be doing all over Facebook. Think about how to create your own memories and fulfill your own fun dreams rather than watching someone else’s.
  • Less texting and more talking. Picking up the phone and talking to people rather than texting them is more personable and much more fun! The days are fewer and farther between when a guy calls a girl for a date. Receiving an anticipated phone call is classy, exciting and much more romantic.
  • Society’s version of true beauty is skewed. Filters and iPhone apps trim up tummies and erase unwanted blemishes. Social media exudes “perfection.” False perfections are plastered and promoted via every sort of social media. It can create stress and a sense of failure to see such “perfection” 24/7.
  • Chivalry and classic romance is rare. Over Christmas, I enjoyed watching some of my favorite classic black and white movies, including “Holiday Inn,” where romantic and chivalrous acts were completed without online dating websites and “talking” to someone over Facebook messaging.

I am so thankful and fortunate to have the memories created in my “Little Rascals” neighborhood, and I hope to raise my children some day in that same sort of environment. To all of the young moms and dads out there today: I would not (and will not) allow my children to spend all of their time on cellphones and laptops because they will be missing way too much. To all of the moms and dads from my neighborhood: you really rock for creating the absolute best memories ever for me and the gang, and I love you all for it. ❤

In this very modern and advanced age of “social” media, too much of our society is missing out on the very best of socializing, if you ask me!

It’s certainly time to make “social” changes in our lives. Are you ready, 2015?


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