Recently I've been feeling a sort of disconnection from the reality of what life has become. I'm watching the world around me change more quickly than I ever thought it would and wonder: Where do we go from here?
It's not just about paying up to $4 a gallon for gas and about the same for a gallon of milk. It's not just about worrying about how we earn the same amount of money and have to pay so much more to live and eat. It's other, more permanent changes to society that worry me.
It's about the question: What happened to privacy?
It's about things like MySpace and FaceBook and iPods and "soccer moms." My teen leaves for school in the morning and we argue over whether or not she can take her iPod with her and whether she needs to answer her cell phone when I call or if a text will do. Everything is so extreme in our world and everybody has a sense of being on display. And they are! You never know who ends up on YouTube or the latest reality show.
It's about the loss of discretion.
There are naked people on my television during prime time and commercials using insults like "dillweed." It's a constant battle to find clothing that covers my teen semi-modestly.
It's about self-identity and giving our children the tools to plan their own lives.
I go to baseball practice with my 8-year-old and I am surrounded by professional mothers. Not mothers who happen to be professionals, too, but professional mothers. Women whose life's ambition is to be the "best" mother and have the "best" kids who have the "right" friends, participate in the "best" activities and have perfectly planned lives.
The truth is, we live in a fast-food world. Instant food, instant coffee, instant messaging and instant gratification. I confess, I used to love fast-food french fries. That is until--and this is no metaphor--I stopped to smell them. The slightly rancid, cloying smell of the grease overwhelmed me as it clogged my nostrils. It made me more than slightly sick to my stomach. Unbidden, images of the jar of french fries left to decay in the movie "Super-Size Me" flooded my mind.
If you've never seen the movie, you're not only missing a disturbing glimpse into the dangers of living on a fast-food diet, but you're also missing the visual horror of McDonald's french fries left in a jar for months on end.
Contrary to what you may expect, and just as any mother who has recently cleaned under a car-seat can attest to, these french fries don't decay. They desiccate. On the outside they still look like french fries, but are actually a hardened, empty shell with a preserved veneer.
This is where the metaphor begins. If I'd never stopped to smell the french fries, I would have continued to wolf them down without paying attention, left to wonder at the vague sick-ache in the pit of my stomach at the end of the day.
Parents today rely on the latest craze, the newest parenting plan, taking as gospel the word of the latest parenting guru who promises if you follow his advice you'll have a new kid in as little as week.
Parents are relying on the next big thing to inform their ways or are too busy or too frantic or too intent on making sure their child has the best, knows the best, is the best without paying attention to their own needs or instincts. In consuming these ideas as so much fast-food, they're not stopping to smell the french fries. And they too wonder about the uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach at the end of the day.
I know I'm not the only person who worries about these things. I've had some wonderful conversations lately with a lot of very interesting people, a lot of very intelligent people, a lot of very accomplished people, all of whom feel the same way. They all express it differently, but we're all concerned about the society we've created.
There are so many things that this disconnection is about, too many to enumerate, I suppose. The two most important points are actually dichotomous perspectives. I want to reach out and let people know there are others who worry about where we are going and about how we can get back on the right track.
But I also want to reach out to people who are indulging and creating this crazy, fast food world and say: Not all of us want french fries with that!