Intermission Riff: Da-da on the Edge of Forever

One last post before Da-da jumps into writing some new books, a serious post that Da-da doubts anyone will read with their phones, as Da-da's serious is far from vogue. But, if you've gone this far, perhaps you'll go a little farther. Or not.

Da-da has never been one for playing it safe, so he won't do it now. He's made hard decisions time and again, always taking what he saw as the high road -- that is, the hard road, even when the LOW road's been greased with dinero. And by taking the high road, Da-da's never gone unpunished. He's almost always suffered for it, despite it being the right thing to do. Doing that which is right is tough in this day and age, as only "whackos" seem to relish the truth. Never a traffic jam on the high road these days. Dada doesn't mean to wax sanctimonious here, but his integrity is at least still in one piece. Da-da can't stomach the alternative, and neither can the corporate world, apparently.

In this warped klieg light, Da-da -- acting as Old Man and the Internet Sea -- has one last shot to fire over the generational bow, one last school of fish to mayhaps spook into a whole new direction, or at least give food for thought. Alas, Da-da's too much of a realist to think anyone will listen. So.

There are lots of things he'd like to comment on regarding the current crops of young humans taking new posts in the world, but what alarms Da-da most is everyone's fascination with small screens, often to the detriment of all else. Eyewitness examples leap to mind:

First, at a restaurant most recently, Da-da observed a twentysomething couple with their two young children: a seven-year-old girl and a baby boy. The twentysomethings completely ignored their kids and stared at their phones all night, texting and what-not throughout the entire meal, not saying a word to each other or their kids, while the little seven-year-old girl fed and took care of the baby. Talk about a new definition of co-dependency.

Second, at a recent dinner with friends, their 10- and 12-year-old sons kept rudely interrupting the social get-together to address their personal stream of texts while at-table. The parents chided their boys -- but the boys pushed back, surprisingly, just like teens. Sure, this is commonplace with nearly everyone these days, from ten to forty, but note that our ancestors would have been outraged at this kind of manner-fail/social fragmentation. Unbridled, "social networking" has become an untenable oxymoron when it comes to REAL face-to-face social networking. (Note that Da-da isn't criticizing the parents, here; this is more of an all-too-common society-wide event, that crosses demographics. While Da-da's boysare too young to have cellphones, he's definitely NOT going to be rectifying this perceived lack until they're in high school. There's simply too much medical data available that shows that developing brains and RF do NOT go together.)

Demographically speaking, teens of the past are now the pre-teens of today -- "tweens," as they're called by Madison Ave in yet another demographic denigration -- but, basically, these are kids we're talking about, the definition of which keeps getting pushed farther and farther out. Kids need instruction on how to become decent, responsible people; Da-da himself strives to one day be a decent, responsible person. And decent, responsible people pay attention to other people in LIVE social interactions, whether they like it or not. It's part of being in a family, part of being a decent person, a citizen, a friend. Jeez, look at this 20-something dufus who co-hosted the Academy Awards.

Dude, text AFTER the Academy Awards are over. How much are they paying you??
And how much for Steve Martin, again?

This kind of self-indulgent rudeness is all over the place, and is now de facto acceptable. But we as parents don't have to support this a-social behavior, esp. as we are the ones typically paying for these technological luxuries, luxuries that aren't that important, or constructive. If it causes pain to take them away, so be it. The title of "parent" doesn't come with any kind of popularity rating over absolute zero, not until they need something; as Da-da has said to his boys many many times: "I'm your father, not your friend." Da-da wants the best for his boys, just as he's sure you do for your own children, and that invariably comes with hard-ass unpopular choices that take an iron will and a heart of gold and a wallet of emptiness.

That said, let's center on the most egregious of the current social ills. Meals are one thing, but driving under the influence is another. The influence of what? you might ask. TEXTING WHILE DRIVING.

Driving in this world is dangerous enough. People drive way too fast in cars that go faster and faster -- often silently, with the new hybrids -- and fully half of these drivers are under the influence of smart phones, looking down at small screens while driving. All the teens, moms and cops in Da-da's town do this.

Folks, Da-da is here to tell you that NOTHING in the world is so goddamned important or compelling as to make you or your children stare at small screens when you're driving. You look at your so-called "smart phone," such an oxymoron when you see how it affects human behavior, and when you do so at 35-70 mph, you put every child in the world at risk, not to mention yourself and everyone else. This may make no sense to many of you, because you have no children, but when you eventually do, and your own child is mowed down by a driver who's watching a YouTube movie while driving, or reading some insipid 'SUP' text from their friends... well. It's your life that's SUP. You kill someone while texting and your life is over. Just like that. Dead. Like that mowed-down 50-lb. child you just mangled with your two-ton automobile. This just happened where Da-da lives, unfortunately -- and Da-da had to see the faces of the parents who lost their 10YO child. Alas, it happens all the time. It's real. Just like when armies kill kids for no reason, that kid's life is over, as so is yours. And for what? For absolutely nothing.

So, turn off your small screens when driving, when living. Look at the world. Use your senses. Go for a walk without the tunes, without the earbuds. (It's illegal to drive with earphones/headphones, btw.) Your life doesn't need a soundtrack. LISTEN TO THE WORLD. Smell it. Feel it. Know it, learn it, live it. Pay attention. Listen to people. Listen to your inner self. Unplug. Detune. Drop IN... and then you'll see the illusion for what it is. But until that realization, you'll always be a slave to it. Do you like being a slave?

One of the best ways to understand what the hell Da-da is talking about is to have kids yourself, and live firsthand the thrill and the horror of parenthood. But that's hard. It's difficult, and most people don't like difficult these days. Be sure to figure yourself out first before you have kids. It's no use making them pay for you being screwed up.

And before you get all mad and flame Da-da here, note that Da-da believes in telling the hardest truths first. Da-da's here to help. He's not buttering you up to get some advertising moolah, a slave to his hit-count. Da-da never works that way. No, Da-da sees ALL OF YOU as his sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and drunken slot-machine-addicted uncles, and he wants all of you to do better than Da-da. He wants to BOOST YOU UP.

So, do yourself this favor for the rest of the year and UNPLUG. Take an ontological, technological vacation. You might even save money on your phone bill. You'll definitely be happier, Da-da guarantees it.

That said, Da-da will now make a rare book recommendation, as you might want to delve into that TRUTH thing, once you take stand. And no, this isn't one of Da-da's books, but that of a writer-friend whom Da-da knows and respects. Note now that there are many paths, many roads that will get you where you will eventually go, but some paths are faster than others, and there are in fact shortcuts. This is a short cut. Anyway, good luck. We're all counting on you.


Is that a unicorn up there? Or just the way she's holding the grapefruit?

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