Scranton Column: For your amusement
Sounds like the Carnival is coming back to Craig this spring!
It was big news in my English classes this week, and students seemed relieved to know that maybe one more event is getting them back to some kind of normal. But then we started discussing things and that’s when things got a little more complicated.
Amusement parks, by nature, and historically, live by the credo that people occupied in amusing themselves will spend less time concerned about everyday life. Seems like a great idea and worthy of a people and culture that statistically works longer hours than most, if not all, industrialized countries.
However, with the gradual shifting away from our industrial roots and our slow progress toward technological prowess and influence, things have changed a bit.
Used to be, back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the fruited plains, one would plan a trip to an amusement center to get away with family or friends and it was quite an experience. Rides and entertainment were geared around the most excitement and exhilaration for the dollar spent. It became sort of a ritual that you planned for and saved a few dollars to take a big trip and maybe even meet some friends or family there for a little bit of a reunion.
We still do much the same but amusing ourselves, especially with technology, has become much easier and dare I say, more problematic.
Kids growing up with technology can be entertained much easier than ever before in human history. Imagine growing up in a world where you can find whichever game you want to play, people who will agree with you, groups that will support you — all by touching a screen.
It can be a really good thing. But what if it isn’t a good thing? What if what you’re looking at isn’t healthy for your intellect? What if the person who agrees with you isn’t good for your safety? What if the group that wants to support you is more about taking advantage of you?
It’s a minefield in that little device and should we make a few wrong decisions, we can be places we shouldn’t be in seconds.
The point is, amusement is good and healthy — but not always and constantly because we begin to wish amusement was reality and reality isn’t quite as fun and controllable as a video game.
Engaging in the world is important if we are to stay on the path toward a better future. Life isn’t always about getting what you want or being able to go back and make different decisions or fix mistakes.
We need to understand what is going on in reality, first and foremost, so that we can make healthy decisions. Technology has made life better in many ways but let’s make sure it’s a tool and not our treasure.
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