Yes, we’re boomers and we are living in the digital/computer age. Aren’t we lucky.
Just this morning I was listening to my fav, Howard Stern, (don’t condemn me to life imprisonment without possibility of parole) rant about living in this age of technology and, oh, yes, war. Let’s not forget the a little over nine years of war initially in Iraq and now in full bloom in Afghanistan. News flash: the war in the Middle East has now surpassed the Vietnam War in length. Remember that war? Every night on the 6 o’clock news Eric Sevaried or Huntely an Brinkley brought us up close and personal a brutal war that played out in our kitchens while we ate dinner, or in our living rooms while we drank our nightly martini, or in our bedrooms as we dozed through the 11 o’clock news hour with our plastic local TV newscaster.
Stern remarked about what a bummer it is to live in this time. It’s full of catastrophes and deaths (June has been the most brutal month for US casualties and 2010 has been a year in which will are expected to lose more American lives than in any other year of this protracted conflict – WAR!!!!!!). He bemoaned the BP spill, the corporate corruption of our government – a government bought and paid for by oil companies, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and Wall Street institutions and on and on and on until we have only limp-dicked puppets in Congress. To reflect how impotent our government has become is completely oxymoronic: it can’t pass bills on any scale; party politics is moribund; the scale of childhood poverty is now registering about one fifth of our population; and we rank dead last in medical care out of all the western European countries. So much for our health care bill and what was wrong with universal heath care, I might ask? People are losing their homes or walking away from their homes because they owe more than the property is worth. It’s more difficult to get a mortgage than it has ever been because the banks like to keep their cash in their safety deposit accounts or under their matresses until they see their way clear to process a loan or two. What’s wrong with now, buddy? Wall Street is back in full stride making money with no apparent product to sell with no apparent ethics in place. I still don’t know what a hedge fun it, by the way. Still no regulation. Still no coherent foreign policy. Russia is mad at us. China is tolerating us. Iran gives us the finger everything they think about us. The Afghan government thinks they are better off without the presence of the US. Hello, Taliban, good-bye freedom. Welcome Al Qaeda, let’s kill whatever population is left of Afghanistan.
And does anybody in government ever read history? No country – no country – has every conquered Afghanistan. Not in the past, not in the present will it happen and not in the future will it occur. Why the British joined us in this fiasco is beyond me. They had already been their in the 19th century and lost! What about Russia? They were their for ten years (matching our time there next July when we are supposed to pull out) and they limped home with their tail between their legs after losing so many men that had no army left.
But, hey, wait!! We live in the internet age. That makes it all better. We’ve got Goggle controlling all communication, all print, all entertainment. They own You Tube. They own all content – well, mostly all content. We can know what is happening before it is happening in this electronic age. We don’t need print news anymore because the internet sends it out before we can read it in the morning’s newspaper. Poor Rolling Stone this week. They preceded themselves on the internet with their McCrystal story. Oh, sorry, you don’t get the newspaper anymore. What’s the point? Every paper or magazine can be read online.
On Tuesday someone hacked into subscriber’s the email lists and sent out a link to a Canadian Pharmacy advertising, what else? Viagra. I was one of those people hacked even thought I don’t use AOL anymore because it sucks, and my list included fellow yogis, old friends, and my ex-husband. He was the first to respond on Wednesday morning in an email. “What’s this you sent me? I think this is meant for someone else.” Unfortunately, he failed to see the humor in the situation. One of my friends took me off his email list. How dare I send him this spam. He emailed me back telling he me gets this stuff sent to him all the time. So much for digital drag. P.S. AOL never owned up to the incident. Not their problem, I guess.
While not bemoaning the internet age, while not trying not to look hip and with it, Howard Stern longed for the past – when things were simpler, when life was more carefree, when around every corner we didn’t see the homeless, the dispossessed, the hungry faces of children on every blighted block in our urban sprawl. We used to have a middle class, buddy!
What Stern said was: we used to know things that were true in our society and expect things to be a certain way, and now they are not. Do we know the truth anymore? The truth is manifests itself according to the gospel of the media: Fox, MSMBC, CNN.
Is that good or bad? Is that right or wrong? Institutions used to function and move an agenda that benefited both rich and poor. A blue chip stock actually had real value. We bought a home and lived in it for life. We settled in our communities and had responsibilities that we fulfilled. We went to school, graduated from high school, maybe went on to higher education, but if not, we got a job in industry and became a productive member of society. And then we retired at sixty-five and then we lived about twenty more years and then we died after having lived a good life. Everything had a place and everyone knew how to live in that place.
But that was the pre civil rights era when economic disparity, black segregation, and society’s outcasts hid behind closed curtains. People of color were out there somewhere in America and that they didn’t have have equal rights or equal school didn’t really matter. No one saw them up close and personal. That wasn’t good. Women couldn’t climb a house ladder let alone a corporate ladder an get reduced pay for just about everything. The glass ceiling wasn’t good, either. And we still had lobbyists in Washington. Remember: “What’s good for GM is good for the country.” We’ll always have lobbyists. Our government was set up that way. It’s called “peddling influence” and it’s our way of life.
Then we boomers came into the picture and we changed all that. Voting rights and equal rights was our mantra and we went to war, too, and we fought honorably but for a cause that was called “the Domino theory” instead of “weapons of mass destruction.” We were told the Reds were out to get us and we believed it without bothering to examine the evidence or analyze the enemy, and we didn’t win and we brought our boomers home and everyone else turned their heads in another direction and said, “Not my war; not my commitment; not my emotional or psychological problems; not my lost limbs.” We were too busy making money and getting fat on the easy life and buying things that amounted to nothing. Can you really take a Jaguar to bed? Can you cuddle a sailboat? We were getting addicted to oil and cars and not paying attention to making our country a better place to live and helping others less fortunate.
And did the boomers give back to their country? Did they make America a better place to live, to work, to die? You can answer that question if you like.
So what was special about the old days? Maybe after WWII, when we fought the good fight against National Socialism, when we brought our troops home and honored them, and sent them to college or had jobs waiting for them in industry. That was a pretty picture. That was before the digital drag, before greed is good, before September 2001, before our leaders in the first decade of the 21th century failed to do an honorable job for America. That was before America drowned in the oil sludge of the Gulf along with the fishing industry and its hard working fisherman, along with the dead wildlife and an sluggish economy and the arrogance of BP.
Living life is never simple, never clear, never certain, never on a level playing field.
Our founding Fathers slugged it out in 1775 and 1776 and 1777 (remember those Articles of Confederation added later to our cherished Constitution?) and we will continue to slug it out in America, in the digital drag, which makes us look smarter and more hip and with it and lots more human. After all, we can social discourse whenever we want on Facebook. And we can Twitter until hell freezes over.
I’m coming up for air now.