Horrified or Amused?

While some people may be concerned about N. Korea or Iran, in the really important news of the week, Netflix banned employees from looking at each other for more than five seconds. Asking a co-worker out more than once is similarly discouraged and, after having been turned down, every effort should be made to avoid that colleague. At about the same time, the National Health Service in England is preparing to diagnose a teenager with its first case of internet addiction and studies show an unprecedented number of U.S. college students are seeking mental health counseling.

While all this was going on, one of our daughters went to enroll her young son in a new school. To her amusement and horror, most of the forms she was asked to fill out overwhelmingly asked about her child’s therapies and special needs. She felt like apologizing for his being a rather uncomplicated kid.

When did normal human interaction and run-of-the-mill childhood become unconventional?  Have we seriously become incapable of differentiating between discomfort and true harassment or of taking responsibility for creating many of the problems we then turn to government and officialdom to solve?

Netflix, and entertainment in general, produce and present media that overwhelmingly revolve around violence or romantic involvement. Sophomoric humor abounds, much of it relating to behavior between the sexes. Sexual interplay between unmarried adults is presented as completely normal and natural. Perhaps employing some internal censorship to produce old-fashioned value-laden shows would be more effective than bulking up the employee instruction manual?

Some individuals have always faced more serious emotional challenges, but it seems to me that we should be worrying less about man-made global warming and instead focusing more on man-made psychological dysfunction. Parents in the 1940s kept their children away from swimming pools in the hope of shielding them from the polio virus. What should parents do today to increase their odds of raising mentally and morally healthy youth and  swim upstream from a culture designed to produce the opposite?  Should Netflix’s new rules simply be laughed at and headline grabbing dysfunction ignored as millions of parents are actually doing just fine? Are N. Korea and Iran a more serious threat than the suicide of western civilization?  Or are things actually better than they seem and are the sensational headlines (to employ a frequently used phrase) just fake news and easily refuted by spending time with one’s rather normal friends and relatives? 

17 thoughts on “Horrified or Amused?”

  1. Susan-
    I have thought for sometime now that those who either do not believe in God or who have turned away from Him are in need of government to be their “equalizer” and protector. But those that follow Him rest in His protection. Not to suggest that we don’t need police or armies, but that believers have view of longer life that allows small things (like staring at me) to be placed in perspective. Absent God, people do need nanny laws and Big Brother government.

    1. Kirk, I don’t remember who said it but you can never have enough police to police the police if people don’t subscribe to a higher moral system. Our system was made for a good and religious people.

  2. Perhaps Netflix should produce a few films that incorporate their own new rules: don’t look at co-workers for longer than 5 seconds, don’t ask other employees for dates, etc. The first movie would focus on the HR person with a stopwatch (if you stare for 5.2 seconds, you are fired) and full access to every employees’ email–both work and personal. (Two emails or texts to the same person, and he or she is transferred cross-country, at their expense). And the title of the film: Socal Interaction at Netflix–A TRUE STORY!
    The viewers would run, not walk, away! [And by the way, what if the Netflix employee is attracted to Ms. Stopwatch from HR, or vice versa? Just a thought….]

    1. Sounds like a winning movie to me, Mike. Or perhaps Hollywood can just yank any movie that has behavior that is now being considered harassment. At least we’ll still be able to watch The Longest Day.

  3. Another jeremiad, alas: You and I think along parallel lines, in that we find ourselves in some phase of the calamitous decline of Western Civilization. And every great civilization rots from within. I only hope we are now not so far down that slippery slope that a reversal of course is out of the question. Little dwarf hominid Man seeks to flatter himself that ‘global warming’ is a significant phenomenon that he himself has created, when all the while it is the nature of climate to change, as it has done for millions of years. Whatever the effect of Man on terrestrial climate, actual or exaggerated, the Global Warming Movement has become an exaggerative pretext, an imperative of Social Justice to fleece the capital and intellectual property of First World nations for distribution to the Third World to advance the cause of Global Socialism, wherein we will all be equally miserable. And from all the programmed bedlam and pandemonium over LGBTQ, one is carefully led to assume that they might constitute some 35% of the population, but in reality they amount to maybe 2-3%.

    As for communication in Cyberspace, we are now seeing but the frontier, the thin end of the wedge of Artificial Intelligence that has begun to subsume and steer our brains, to filter how we can spell, what we can say and to prohibit what we will not be allowed to say. How many times have we heard certain inalienable opinions denigrated and blocked as ‘hate speech?’ Already there are opinions that website software censors or actually disqualifies based upon the inclusion of certain keywords proscribed or forbidden. Whatever the seductive advantages of Cyberspace, its dangers are frightening in implication. And we are becoming SOOO compliant. It disquiets me to no end to observe entire families in high-end restaurants, each man-woman-and-child interfaced, subsumed and melded into their little cell phones or pocket computers. What happened to real family time, for Pete’s sake, where you could sit down with parents or forebears over a good meal and absorb vital spoken tidbits of information about your family origins, traditions and expectations?

    1. James, think back to when people started watching TV at the supper table. That helped speed along the end of family suppers for many. You are right that there are so many missed opportunities because of our absorption with our tools.

  4. You raise some great food for thought Susan, I believe in balance in moderation & believe also that if we’re real about who we are & what we’re about, the end result will be or at least much much closer to leading to more wide-spread taking of personal responsibility. I wish more were taking in what you bring up, and would start asking their hearts a few hard questions.
    And Carole about what you brought up about the cellphones use in your women’s Bible study during group time, I have a question: is the use of phones by the in your women’s study during group time related to them struggling with an unspoken elephant question in the room about how much they believe they each really matter to G-d, given where they are at this moment in time with children growing up & leaving the nest or preparing to?

    If you were to set aside whatever your normal study is for one or two sessions, and start off with a note at the front door that all phones must be on silence or off & left on a table inside the front door, due to the seriousness of the topic covered, and then after your group’s starting prayer time teach through Scriptures from Old and New Testaments to re-teach them how loved & important & how much we matter to G-d, and tie it in with the cellphone use issue during past study times as a possible sign of insecurity on the question of how much they ‘feel’ they truly matter –could that help make a significant in-road to curbing the extend to which it has been happening up to that point? Especially if pre-gathering request about that issue isn’t being respected/adhered to (if they’re not experiencing major family/medical crises necessitating they have phone at the ready)…?

    1. Diana, a few synagogues we know have put in lockers and ask people to place phones there before daily prayers. (On Shabbat we don’t use phones so this is for weekday services.)

  5. In 1992 when I started working for Blue Shield the internet was coming into play, I said to coworkers this would be a social death for society yet everyone thought I was just being negative. The internet gave way to people being somewhat fake because they could present themselves differently than in person and it also allowed people access to things they wouldn’t do in public, such as buying porn, inappropriate sexual relations, thievery, etc. Now it’s much more prevalent with “computers” in our hands and everyone justifying this new way of socialization if just fine. It’s not fine with me and I’m not shy about letting others know.

    1. It is amazing to see how much society has changed because of the Internet. I wonder if there is a way to ‘tame the giant’ or if one just has to settle for the good with the bad.

  6. Carole Carrara

    Susan, you’re absolutely right right. And, while my comments have nothing to do specifically with your message they do have to do with phone usage which is taking over everyone’s lives it seems. I have been in a Bible study for over 15 years. I also have a small Bible study in my home with six people. In each of these groups when someone’s cell phone rings, each person feels the responsibility to answer the phone. Some begin talking while continuing to stay in the group. Some get up to leave to have a conversation but and do none of them ever feel that this is rudeness or an imposition or whatever. I’m flabbergasted by the rudeness of some people who do not tell their children or friends or whatever, hey, I’m in a Bible study, call me later. This is going on for so many years that I’m at the end of frustration. One person has said, I take any calls from my kids, they come first. It seems that not only o the kids comes first, but also friends, friends who are calling just to chat. We have talked about phone interruptions and it does no good. I know this has nothing to do with your musings Susan, but I see no way to get people to let these phones go for even a couple of hours. I do not answer when my kids call however we have a system that if it’s an emergency they call once and then hang up and immediately call me again. If I get two calls in a row, I answer, which thankfully has never happened. Phones sit out on the table where they can be readily reached by everyone which irks me to no end. Any thoughts to overcome this rudeness of interruptions during scripture study? It is a sad thing as well when at worship the congregation is told to please turn your phone off. Is not even God given the honor and respect of no phone calls? I have even responded two people in grocery stores who have talked, or been talking and I thought they were talking to me. I’ve walked towards them as if to address there words only to find out there’s an earpiece and they’re talking to someone. Not only that when people talk on the phone, I somehow feel they have to talk louder than they would talk normally, that’s another thing that irks me. Boy I am irked today aren’t I? Well one thing for sure I probably saved myself a counseling session this week. Thanks for giving even an internet ear to my thoughts. Todah Rabah. Carole
    P.s. I also want to say that these women are 55 and above, with me being the oldest at 77.

    1. Carole, I was just looking at the studies showing an increase in suicide among ‘middle-aged’ men and women. There’s a general acknowledgment that the more social connections one has the better emotional health one has. The phone problem you mention can look on the surface as if it is enhancing social connections, but actually it is diminishing them as you understand. Focusing on one person or group at a time is key. I’ve had the same experiences as you and it is definitely a problem.

      1. In our groups we have a rule: everyone turns off their phones. It’s nearly impossible to truly concentrate if phones are ringing at random times. It’s like everyone is waiting for someone’s phone to ring, so your attention is in two places. Best thing is to turn them off and leave them in the car.

        1. Absolutely makes sense to me! Seems that being rude has taken on a new face. A face that is perched in front of their phones constantly. Give yourself a break. You may find it refreshing to be free from being “on call” 24/7.

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