Back like a bad check, writing again

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019

By: Shane Starr

Like a bad check, I’m back…

It’s hard to believe that seven years have elapsed since my last contribution to the Daily News. Seven years! That’s an apprenticeship.  That’s high school AND college! That’s what watching an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” feels like. I think it’s true: the older you get, the faster time goes.  Of course, not everyone agrees with my perception. Even though my granddaughters seem to have advanced seven normal years in age, they think time is passing slower than an Amish drag race. 

Our English bulldog is unquestionably seven years older. At the geriatric age of ten and a half, he has elevated lethargy to an art form.  Watching him walk reminds you of stop motion animation.  By the way, when I asked one of my granddaughters if she believed the bulldog thought time was passing quickly or slowly, she was quick to say, “He can’t tell time, Grandpa. He’s not a watch dog.”

So during this time gap, has the world changed dramatically, or remained depressingly the same?  Well, for sure LaGrange has changed dramatically. We have a new water park, microbreweries, an amphitheater with a seasonal concert series, a winery, water in the lake, and new restaurants.  Georgia has stumbled its way toward change, sometimes energetically, sometimes kicking and screaming.  And the US – despite an entirely new cast of characters – seems stuck in wrestling with largely the same issues that were hot buttons seven years ago. 

Probably the most noticeable global changes in the last seven years are the computer-mediated technologies that create the ubiquitous environment known as “social media”.   We upload 300 hours of video to YouTube every minute.  Two billion of us sign on to Facebook every month.  There are 95 million Instagram posts per day. We tweet random thoughts, whether we are a US president, or social influencer wannabees.

Yet despite the fact that we know more about each other than ever, we manage to have less actual face-to-face interaction with each other. I worked with a new college graduate before I retired, and though we sat at adjoining desks, her first need was my cell phone number. When I asked why she might need to call me, she corrected my thinking. “It’s to text,” she explained.  Still slow on the uptake, I questioned why she might need to text me. She attempted to be patient with me, but her exasperation peeked through as she asked with incredulity, “Well, what if we need to talk?!”

When I was young, my father bestowed on me the advice – often attributed to Abraham Lincoln – “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” I sort of feel the same way about me and social media.  I admit, I peruse Facebook daily, to see what my family and friends are up to, but there needs to be a common-sense limit to this. The idea of video graphing and posting a trip to the proctologist just seems to take the mystery out of something best left mysterious.

In any case, I’m glad to be back.  We’ll talk again soon.