#YOLO. You Only Live Once. This is one of today’s not-well-thought-out (if involving any thought at all) statements made by the youth of the day. Unfortunately this is not, carpe diem, live life to the fullest, or seize the day. This tends to be more like a sentiment of indifference either preceding a bad choice or a comment following a thoughtless act.
I know I may be a little bit different in my thought process than many, and sometimes different is good. Sometimes I wish I had been born in an earlier time, when life’s lessons, the right way to act and behave, came long before the disrespectful, errant ways were introduced. This, coming from someone who grew up in a home where the courteous, thoughtful, respectful way was taught and shown by example daily.
Remember when the boy would ask out the girl and the conversation would even take place face to face. Break ups were so difficult because relationships were possibly more genuine and the end would happen in person where there was no place to hide or a mass quantity of messages to lose meaning in. Communication would take place in writing, on a piece of paper. Disrespect would happen outside the home because your parents wouldn’t allow it, the phone didn’t have a long enough cord to escape the truth, and there was no other way reach anyone unless you went to them.
Now everyone has an email address, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a phone number with which to text. What happened to the home address? It used to be that interactions took place at school, or church, or at someone’s home address. Not a web address, or the such.
Remember when we all knew every inch of your yards. We knew the way the land contoured in every instance. We knew the hiding spots for games requiring one. We knew the trees to climb and the best route up. We knew the best places to lie in the grass and take in the sun, the passing clouds, or a starry sky. If there was water, we knew where to cross and where to play. We learned the best, quickest, easiest, or most efficient way to get the grass all cut. We knew where to start, where to finish, and where to put all the snow when shoveling the driveway and walks. We knew where the sun came up, where it went down, and where all the shade and shadows were at any time in the day. We knew where the flowers ended and our play area began. We knew how to help in the garden or at least recognized the various plants in that area. We knew where the ground-hog made their holes, where the squirrels and chipmunks hid, and we could tell you where the robin’s blue eggs were in the nest. We could tell you where the best places were on the property to embrace a summer breeze or to avoid a winter gust. We knew how to whistle with a blade of grass. We knew the sweet taste of clover and where to find it. In other words, there was a lot time spent outside, at home, with our imagination often times being our most loyal companion.
Now tweets, updates, emails, and texted conversations consume the hours in a day. The thoughts required, or lack there of, to manage such a log of activity is quite time-consuming. An adolescent mind need not be so busy, especially busily pursuing matters of little matter. Think of this, thousands of text messages coming and going each month. Another several hundred emails and tweets over 30 days. Countless updates, messages, comments, Likes, and scrolling sessions on Facebook. Add this all up and maybe it comes to something like this, conservatively. Texting requires an hour per day, typing, thinking (some), replying and reacting, sharing info with others, and thinking some more about the conversations in bits and pieces. That’s 30 hours per month. Emails and tweets, consuming time and thoughts, and then thoughts to react, ponder, respond, etc. I’d calculate that time at roughly 2+ hours per week, or about 10 hours per month. Then the overall brain power and time required for dealing with Facebook is easily an hour per day on average. That’s another 30 hours per month. I think these are conservative for millions of youth. Even so, that’s 70 hours, 3 full days, or 10 percent (conservatively) of one’s time spent on electronic communication. Communication where much is immediate, but still, it’s a place to hide, be bold, be arrogant, and disrespectful without correction in too many cases. Furthermore, time spent with friends, in person, is now accompanied by multiple distractions. Friends tweet, message, text, email, and send pictures to others while “spending time, in person, with their friends”. This just minimizes the time spent together and dilutes the quality experience it could have been.
All of our minds, especially the adolescent ones, need some time to just innocently wander. Or think on absolutely nothing. That’s the time where we learn our yard, the trees, the ins and outs of home. It’s a time when our imaginations and the subsequent pondering are the best ways to use our time and brainpower.
It’s true, at least here on earth, you only live once. So don’t miss it. Be present. Be participating. Technology is not required to do either. Enjoy moments. Don’t let them get away while paying just partial attention. If you want to hide behind YOLO while making bad decisions and doing stupid things, then at least be real enough, or adult enough, to accept what comes back at you. Live life. Go out and make life happen in full, not in tweets and texts, all the while inattentively living each passing moment. Slow down. There’s no hurry to quit being a youth or a kid. We all want to grow up, and as soon as we do, we wish again to be a kid. There’s no hurry. Enjoy youth. Enjoy home. Explore the loving, caring people and spaces closest to you. Those are the places and people you will long for over the balance of your days.
Try to unplug more and live better. Don’t get caught up in the world of Text, Text, Boast. Tweet, Tweet, Post. Instead, relax more, body and mind, rest in the hours put aside for such things. Do your chores. Respect everyone, especially family and elders. Be courteous and thoughtful. Be a better and nicer version of yourself everyday, and if you have a real bad day, rest, and rebound even stronger tomorrow. The growing up will happen whether you like it or not. It will also happen whether you’re ready or not. Let your mind grow and get ready for adulthood. Set in stone your honesty, integrity, and the meaning of all you do. There will come times in your life when those things will be your saving grace or your limiting step. So don’t miss the lessons you could be learning by being elsewhere mentally while physically present in life’s classroom.