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Journey Through The Past (Social Media isn’t Learning)

Everyone has moments that stick out as clear as day from their lives. When you can get into a deep conversation with someone, and get to the parts of them that truly matter, you might be lucky enough to get a glimpse into those moments that helped define their destiny and made them who they are.

One of mine was the Kent State Killings in 1970. I was twelve years old when it happened and not as consciously aware of my surroundings until the next year, when I woke up for real due to a traumatic event. With my eyes and ears finally open to cruelty, I saw it everywhere and was obsessed with trying to understand it all.

They’ve apparently found possible proof that there was an order to kill students on the Ohio Kent State campus. I’m not sure why it matters now, 37 years later, unless you were there or are related to the students who died.

What the news does for me is bring back a flood of dark memories filled with all the reading I did on what happened on that campus. The onslaught continued with the Vietnam war, Charles Manson murders (my friends and I would spend hours listening to Beatles songs played backwards, hunting for all the “secret” messages), listening to Neil Young (my teenage hero), and in my case, watching many friends die from drug overdoses and car crashes. One of them was my first husband, who died from a combination of drugs, alchohol and driving too fast.

My kids have started to ask questions about him because it represents a mom they never knew. He was gone long before they ever arrived but he’s part of my history and who I am matters to them because it helps them understand themselves on a whole different level.

Is this why we keep going back to the past, even to unsolved mysteries, because we need so badly to understand and accept what’s here now?

Neil Young made a movie and album called “Journey Through the Past” and an album called “Time Fades Away”. For hours I’d sing the last line from his song, “Four dead in Ohio” like a sordid mantra. When I wanted to feel depressed or introspective, which was like, everyday while growing up as a hippie-child, his songs lulled me to that comfy place where all the questions sat in a pile, unanswered.

Why is it that everytime I’m reminded of the past, I look at today, and that pile has grown?

The biggest difference is the Internet. People of all ages have access to each other in ways never believed possible.

If we can have sex online or by phone, why can’t we have peace, too?

When will social media be truly social instead of groups of people who refuse to interact with others?


  1. Dan's Gravatar Dan
    May 6, 2007    

    You’ve made some significant points. I’m a couple of years older and remember the events mentioned well. One of the key differences between then and now is that when outrageous events occurred people were drawn together physically, sometimes into civil disobedience, whether taking over a university administration building or a city street. Now they’re blogging.

    One of the key ingredients to a social community is personal interaction, which nurtures reflection of thought and incorporates other forms of non-semantic expression that in combination exceeds what semantics alone can accomplish.

    The immediacy of the medium, one of its greatest assets, is also one of its liabilities. Expression of reactive thought and knee-jerk reaction to it has increasingly dominated television news for decades and has contributed to a culture that rewards less than nuanced thought. And the ease of coming together though no more than a trip to the internet brings together people that normally wouldn’t make the effort if more was demanded.

    With so many participating just for the link baiting it’s no wonder that strident nonsense can rule the day. Peace never dominated traditional news coverage unless violence broke out during the quest. But the speed of the medium also allows for a much quicker end to some communities that never were more than a band of narcissistic immature thugs enamored by the illusion of large numbers of so-called friends purchased wholesale at a “tag” sale.

    We talked, marched, wrote and sang about peace for years and the results are sadly evident. But we didn’t have social media. As flawed as it is now, there is more inherent power to a good blog than in occupying a building. It will take time-and more great posts like yours on great forums like this one. Thanks!

  2. May 6, 2007    

    Dan wrote:

    One of the key differences between then and now is that when outrageous events occurred people were drawn together physically, sometimes into civil disobedience, whether taking over a university administration building or a city street. Now they’re blogging.

    Of the many excellent,thought provoking points raised, this one seemed like a hot one to begin with.

    Why do people not march in the streets or gather in masses? (Yes, I know it’s still done, but not on the scale it once was.) Gas prices to get there? The ease of just writing about it? Those huge gatherings rarely produced results?

    When I write down my thoughts on topics I’m passionate about, for the most part, I feel like I’m writing to myself, unless someone replies or wants to continue the conversation.

    At a rally, however, there are masses of people to talk to, walk with, carry signs, beat drums, chant, and find the nearest bathroom with (can you tell I’ve done this?)

    It’s far easier and quicker to call people names and put them down online in social sites, behind fake names, than it is to actually show up somewhere, take a stand as the person you are and try to communicate in ways that don’t automatically put those who may disagree on the defensive.

    (You made my day Dan! Thank you :))

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