Cumberland Times-News

February 25, 2012

You’ve heard it before, but things are worse

Maude McDaniel, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— Hey, I’ve been pretty good-natured lately, and it’s a strain on me. Considering my age (very old) and the state of the world (very bad), you must be amazed at my self-control in the last few months. I don’t remember saying anything good about the music or the electronics or the morals of our culture in recent columns — but I have carefully tried not to bash them. Well, not too much.

Still, there’s a limit to my restraint. And today, I’ve had enough — the gloves are off.

Whatever happened to the world in which MHTB and I brought up our children? We did it with the HELP of the culture — not fighting a tide of trash and even filth from outside, as parents have to nowadays. We did it with the implicit support of a society that frowned on premature sex, and on drunkenness and foul mouths, and made no bones about it. Hey, whatever happened to that culture?

Nowadays, parents get no help from the outside at all.

A culture that once sang “Just the Way You Look Tonight” (substitute your own title if you don’t agree with me that that is one of the most romantic, unspecific, popular songs ever) now sings “Dessert First, and Then We’ll See.” Actually, I made that up but you didn’t know for sure, did you?

There were things we were sure of, like not actually having sex before marriage, that might have been sometimes ignored in the heat of the moment, but not by the huge majority of couples, as seems to be the case now. Even the idea of sex as something wonderful that can happen with two people after other responsibilities are taken care of, can no longer be found in the land. Nowadays it’s pretty much like fast food — available cheaply everywhere and at all hours, with fries.

But let’s get on to more frivolous things.

Some of the changes are helpful, of course. After all, there was a time, not too many centuries ago when people heard horrible noises and huddled in their huts, fearing dragons or spacemen marching over the hills to destroy their lives and families. Things are different these days. Now we know it’s only the railroad.

But whatever happened to personal and private? When did it begin, that if you went to the bathroom, you felt it necessary to tweet or twitter., “I just went to the bathroom.” When deep thinking amounts to, “I would be good but it’s hard and anyway what’s good, so whatever?” it makes the whole world into an open question. Young people nowadays have no clue about possible answers, except the general reaction to ignore whatever their elders have to say. Oh, yes, and to make their message as potty-mouthed as possible. And why should they worry? The society we live in nowadays will support them. Certainly, it won’t have a word to say in support of their parents, poor idiots.

Say, when did the underaged take over the world? In the Washington Post today an article appears about a television reporter who was covering stores that sell liquor to underage drinkers. For revealing the lawbreakers, the reporter and her family were being threatened! By — teenagers!

The emphasis on selfishness these days is astonishing. Society used to agree, and assist parents in teaching that thinking only of yourself was a no-no. But just count the number of commercials that have appeared in the past couple of years which end up with some twit who never rubbed two ideas together in her (or his) head saying, “I‘m getting (the 40-inch TV or outlandishly priced make-up) because — I DESERVE IT.”

And here’s something that has changed forever. We’ll never get it back again, that personal privacy that existed before TV, and then the Internet, that time when you went home from school or work and closed your door and shut out the world. For healthy families, at least, it was an opportunity to renew your lives, to refresh your ties. (Granted, bad families were also renewed and refreshed.) But the best thing about that privacy was that, when you let the world in again, it agreed with the parents, about morals and values! Wow, imagine that! It supported you!

(Now ,dear readers, if either one of you is left, don’t jump to a political assumption here. I think neither party has lived up to its ideals. Of course, they never have.)

The biggest irony of all is that the pace of the culture is speeding up. Thanks to cellphones, computers, and all the brave new world equipment we are blessed with these days, you can now do really stupid idiotic things faster and with more energy than ever before. And the system will cheer you on.

I guess that means that my dream of living long enough to see a time when chefs once more put the sauce over the entree, and not under it, will not come true. The culture does not support it.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.