I’ve been observing several stories in the news lately that all seem to have a common thread:
“Question authority” used to be a phrase associated with the Baby Boomers (or 70s “hippies” – though they’re probably mostly one in the same). It’s meaning and use actually go back to Benjamin Franklin and strongly suggests that the people should always be questioning the government.
The irony is that those people who were adhering the “Question authority” bumper sticker to their cars are now the ones WITH the authority and are dictating rules that affect every area of our lives.
There’s a movement of people out there who are concerned about losing our freedoms, and those who think there’s nothing to worry about are often those who support the people making the regulations that take them away.
Which brings me to the second point: the growing concern over obesity.
In general, losing weight has always been a simple equation (in theory, if not in practice). Burn more calories than you take in, and you will lose weight. Take in more than you burn, and you will gain weight.
So, Americans are generally gaining weight. Well, what else are we doing? We’re making laws that would prevent kids from working… physically working. We continue to invent more outlets to sit and play video games and more games to play.
All learning takes place on the Internet, so kids aren’t even engaging in the simple act of getting out of their chair to go and get the Encyclopedia.
America doesn’t make anything anymore that isn’t digital, so adults that may have been engaging in jobs with physical labor aren’t that active anymore.
Our entire culture – social, commerce, leisure, etc. – continues to move toward the virtual plane. We don’t walk, or even drive to the store, anymore. We don’t have to go to events when we can live stream them. We play our games online. We interact online. There’s simply less natural points during one’s day during which they’d have to get out of their chair.
We’re essentially heading down the path that led to Wall*E – only without the environmental destruction that forced them to leave the planet.
Obviously, I’m speaking in generalizations, but when I was little, I don’t think I went a day without hearing my Mom say “Go play outside.” Now, we don’t let our kids play with others without a pre-arranged “playdate.” And if we do, leave the house, they’re on a tether with a radius of 10 feet in which they can safely play.
Atari came out when I was little, and everyone in the neighborhood, including my family, was getting one (or an Activision, but those were more complicated with that dialpad). Once we had Defender or Space Invaders, I would sit in the basement for hours. Multiply that by a factor of 10 with all the opportunities to play video games these days. And with the safe and boring playgrounds of today, it’s not as fun to go to a park. Bring back the jungle gyms made of steel or truck tires.
The safety snakes of today who are trying to take all of the risk out of society have made it harder to expend our energies. There’s simply less to do that fun and risky. It won’t be long before football is banned on playgrounds (although I suspect Ultimate Fighting will still be allowed). One sport after the other will be deemed too dangerous until kids won’t have any sports to play. And then we’ll wonder why they’re obese.
Our restaurants serve larger and larger portions to compete with the others, and processed foods are continually the cheaper, but more commonly available option.
And of course, the definition of “obesity” itself. According to the BMI guidelines, I’m obese right now. I don’t think I look too obese. And I don’t feel like I am (although sometimes, after devouring an entire pizza, maybe…).
More often than not, we reap what we sow and we get what we deserve. All of the above is related in several ways. Not sure one thing directly leads to the other, but they’re all pieces to the puzzle we see building around us. If we don’t like the direction, we must analyze the component parts and make sure they’re what we want them to be.