Kathy is fifteen or sixteen, a junior in high school, she often works in her mama’s restaurant as a waitress, and I assume this is where she picks up her spending money. We have talked numerous times about a lot of things, contact lenses, school, college; boys that are stupid, what movie have you seen.
One thing I noticed about Kathy in our conversations is how important “networking with her friends seems to occupy a large part of her life.” She is on Myspace and she text messages on her cellphone, she has Twitter and I suppose a few others that I am not privy to.
It just struck me the way that all of this was so effective for her, how it works for the younger generation. I guess the thing that got me started down this path is the fact that “she and her girlfriends plan things before they do them.” They get together or rather they use the various mediums in their lives and they make plans and create order in their lives or social endeavors.
Now this is a prime indicator of how life in this day and age is important to the internet or different mediums and a necessary aspect of young people and to our society in general. I found myself thinking about when I was the same age, and how we did things. Being from small town America, we would drive down to Main Street on Friday night, park and when someone came by and stopped, we would start putting things together.
We did not plan ahead; we had no other way to communicate other than “draggin’ main, burning cheap gasoline, and finding someone else to do it with.” At sixteen years of age, I was allowed to go into the garage, and use the telephone there to talk with my girlfriends and I was also limited to the amount of time I could spend on the phone, usually about fifteen minutes tops.
My home town, Purcell Oklahoma, has a hill on the north side of town, the name of this hill is “Red Hill.” By most standards it isn’t much of a hill, 250-300’ high at the peak, I climbed it one time on my motorcycle. As far as I know I was the only kid in town to accomplish this feat, and I have never heard of anyone doing anything similar in nature over all these years.
Most folks in my generation were adventurous in nature, nothing like that today. Everything is fairly laid out and in place for today’s generation, and the majority of it doesn’t require nature or the outside in order to accomplish the majority of it. Skateboarding isn’t an adventure, Dungeons and Dragons, Grand Theft Auto. A computer controller and a bag of chips, not much adventure in that.
Red Hill is also where Susie introduced me to the pleasures of young manhood, under a clear sky, loaded with stars, and air thick with the smell of summer. Where we laughed, we cried, we schemed and we dreamed, and we thought of all the world we wanted to see. We “hooked up on Main Street and we slipped off into the night.” No pre-planning or networking in that, that was the way it was done.
I often went to Red Hill and sat on the stone fence there and I would stare off to the east to a horizon that seemed to go on and on, almost forever. I would look in the direction of Boston, or Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville and I would as a young man wonder what it was that was out there and if I would ever see it.
When my relationships went sour, and things did not work out, I would go there, sit down pull out a Marlboro and work it out in my mind. This was my fortress of solitude, Red Hill, and I often spent more than one long afternoon there blowing the cobwebs out of my head.
Not long ago someone sent me a invitation to join Facebook. I of course declined, I don’t have the time to sit around and talk about myself and open up my life to basically what I think are virtual strangers. I do enough of that right here. Facebook for the most part is a straight jacket for people who have nothing better to do than talk about themselves.
Take a minute today to think about it.
Do you want to know that the “girl you idolized in high school, is now a pudgy housewife with four kids, living in Paducah, Kentucky and cleaning up her cats’ hairballs?” How about the great looking, blond headed kid that sat on Red Hill for hours at a time, do you want to know that he is now a balding old coot in Oklahoma and he is glad it is almost the weekend.
It might work for Kathy and her gang, but it surely isn’t my cup of tea.