Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Social Media (12/01/11)
TITLE: The Neighborhood
By Brian Passe
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The local news was passed around as we sat on our porches. Men talked about work, politics, fishing and the world in general. Our moms traded recipes, gave advice to new mothers and discussed the price of groceries. Our parents weren’t concerned about political correctness; they believed in God and lived by the golden rule. They had lived through an economic depression and a world war; their lives were simpler now and full of hope. Children ran freely in the neighborhood and we always gathered at someone’s house because moms always had an evening treat. Our thirst was quenched with lemonade. Sometimes there was an extra batch of cookies waiting for us on the porch.
Today’s neighborhoods are housing subdivisions where families live but rarely gather. It’s not uncommon for both parents to work outside the home. Their days are rushed with demands from work and driving the kids from one organized athletic event to another. Supper is often grabbed on the run and many fathers and mothers read their e-mail while sitting on the bleachers. We now interact with friends and neighbors in a virtual world. A tweet or post to Facebook lets everyone know that we’re at the ballgame. This new media of communication let’s us tell our friends that it’s raining on the soccer field and everyone is covered in mud.
Contemporary neighborhoods are defined as networks of people connected via electronic bulletin boards. Life seems to move faster in the virtual world. Discussions of daily events are condensed into 150 characters mixed with acronyms only the most skilled understand. These abbreviated notes replace long conversations once shared on warm summer nights. No longer do we linger and listen to crickets or the breeze of wind blowing gently through the trees. These are replaced by the rapid click of keys while waiting for a streetlight to change. The more bold of us text a message as we drive to our next appointment. Such messages frequently lament the need to go somewhere other than home.
Times change and so does technology. Boundaries of our lives are redefined as we move from one subdivision or city to another. Our virtual neighbors need not reside in any area for an extended period of time. We stay in touch with the click of small keys on phones that have somehow become smart. The tide of time cannot be held in place anymore than the ocean tide. It is our destiny to move forward, discarding that which we once held dear, replaced by memories of times long gone.
The click of keys does not remind me of evening crickets. My car, stuck in traffic, does not have the comfort of a front porch. Social networks and media do not have the comfort of friends sharing lemonade in the dimming twilight of a day. Perhaps history will repeat itself and we will return to those warm evening nights and gather with friends. Until then, I’ll turn off my phone and look longingly out my screened porch, hoping for a real person to fill an empty chair.
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