Remember the hospital show where the patient has developed a rare group of symptoms? When queried as to what he has, the Doctor comes up with a blank only to later discover his parents were of Samoan decent and that his father an evangelical preacher from Georgia carried the rare blood disorder causing the patient his malady. That is medical inheritance. But what effect does coming from Georgia or having an evangelical preacher for a father; have on our sick patient? More than anyone has ever really thought. This is what we would consider; his social inheritance.
We are all the walking talking carrying identities of our past associations and that includes more than just our immediate family. It’s our friends we grew up with as well as those we associate with now. It is also that extended family of uncles and aunts and co-workers and other personal links that we currently maintain or have known in the past. Who our friends are does say a lot about us; your mother was right! But wait a minute, many of us haven’t been home in years, know very little about our past, and for that matter don’t look at that section of our life as somewhere we want to go back to. We are all grown up now!
Hmmm, how did this happen! First of all, because mobility has been our mantra, we have become largely disconnected from a lot of people whom we used to know. People that used to give us advice mentor us and genially provide an example of either good or bad about what it is to be not only adults but responsible ones at that.
We change jobs on average every seven years. We tend to follow the Jones’s to better and better neighborhoods. Armed with the latest in creature comforts from Blue Ray DVD’s , lap tops and cell phones, we tend to sit back and use them all by ourselves and while we belong to social networks, we are very specific about who we let in and how much of us we put out for all others to see. On average we spend three hours a day in front of the television but if you add all the time you go on line and use your cell, it doubles and for some almost triples! Adding insult to injure if we are a member of a group or social organization we feel just as comfortable sending the check in as attending the meetings. You don’t have to interact with people when you are mailing it in and besides who has the time!
How many of you live within say twenty miles of where you were born? Not surprisingly very few I am sure. As boomers, our goal was to get out and discover the world and the sooner the better. And when we did, we lost touch with a lot of our past and set the tone for the rest of our adult lives. It should come as no surprise that when we look at the world and our place in it, we sometimes feel like we don’t fit in.
There is a show on the discovery channel that takes current high tech users and takes them back to a previous time and asks them to live their lives today with yesterday’s modern conveniences. Shocking to see that only going back thirty years, people almost all become severely incapacitated with out their black berries and cell phones. How many of you remember being on a party line! Not a 1-900 hundred number, but your home phone line that had several families conjointly using it? You had your own ring as did you neighbors. And get this, anyone could listen to any conversation you had! Talk about privacy issues.
It’s not your father’s world anymore and that is fine and dandy. The problem is that the social inheritance that we are all carrying with us; that deep inside gut feeling about what are the norms, rights, wrongs, what it is to be a father, mothers, friend, member, and card carrying American have changed. We get blindsided every day by a world that seems to be playing by a different set of rules, and it has us confused, disheartened, and downright depressed as to what we should be doing. (To be continued)