Times, they are a changing…with apologies to Bob Dylan.

bob dylan - harmonicaI was thinking just the other day just how much times have changed even in my lifetime. The fact that I am now 80 years old does give a lot of leeway for change and I have to confess that I have seen more than just a few.

It’s the latest changes that are really bothering me. The ones over the last ten or fifteen years with the advent of the internet and social mediums like Facebook and Twitter. I think what worries me the most is the extent that these mediums are used and some of the hate and garbage that is written. Now this is America and everyone, by the Constitution is entitled to free speech. Although that is a very noble concept, The Founding Fathers could never have foreseen the extent that it has reached in this modern day and age. From telling everyone where you currently are just in case someone may be interested to showing pictures of what you had for lunch of which I am quite sure, no one is interested to having a point of view to any discussion and then blurting it out to the world sometimes using profane language that may be offensive to others.

When a decent discussion about something important is started, invariably and without fail, someone will start to make disparaging remarks about whatever they don’t agree with. Instead of having a logical point of view and respecting the point of view that others may have, sooner or later the discussion will turn nasty with some, who are not agreeing with the conversation, resorting to verbal violence.

What worries me the most that this type of online conversation happens at any level. I belong to a Neighborhood Group that encompasses several collective neighborhoods and we use it to keep in touch with each other with announcements, articles for sale, information concerning our neighborhood and such. Sometimes, we have pretty heavy discussions about things that are generally perceived as troublesome to the entire neighborhood and recently we had a discussion about the rock concert noise volume coming from the new church. That one also got very heated. Currently, we are in a very heavy discussion with the latest road project concerning the “Y” at Oak Hill. So far, there has been nearly 100 emails related to the subject but even in a local area like ours, invariably the conversation turns nasty. I don’t know if these people are just so antisocial that they resort to sarcasm and innuendo and sometimes, even downright name calling in order to have a say or maybe they cannot get their point across without sarcasm or have the capacity to present an argument without resorting to verbal violence.

I am quite sure this is true everywhere as anything that I choose to follow on the web that includes any form of discussion always seems to have it’s own contingent of naysayers and nasty speaking people.

We all know that this is a very violent country and I am not just talking about guns. Just below the surface, there is a whole segment of the population that are in discord with the rest. I am very concerned with the ease in which individuals like Donald Trump can get any sort of a following and indeed, be the Republican offering for President. There is an entire contingent of Americans who are so bitter and so filled with hate and mistrust that they just seem to be looking for a leader, someone like Trump, who they believe will lead them to the promised land and make their life better.

I came to America from the UK  almost 50 years ago because I had the opportunity to do so and because I was so tired of the incessant rain over there. My adopted country has been very good to me and I have managed to live a long and enjoyable life. Sure it has had the usual day to day sort of challenges but after all, that is what life is all about. It has only been in these last 5 years or so that I have really noticed how the temperament of everyday people is changing, and not I might add, necessarily for the better. Just look how people change when they get behind the wheel of a car. That is when some people are at their scariest.

People have more availability to information now, generally speaking, than they have ever had before. They are surrounded by air waves broadcasting everyone and their brothers point of view on every subject under the sun. Each of us and I include myself in this, have the choice of what we want to follow and what the extent of our involvement may be. It can be as simple as just reading about something to becoming quite literally, very heavily involved in a discussion on that subject. We each have points of view and some try to shout louder than others to get theirs across. Some resort to violence whether just verbally or physically or both.

But, there is an element of mistrust and hate just below the surface waiting for the right moment to become involved. Some wise man once pointed out that freedom comes with a price. Is this payback time? Have we reached the point where we will turn on ourselves just because we are now better informed and can believe anything we want to believe. Is it a case of, “He who shouts the loudest and uses the most profanity will be the winner”?

As I said earlier, as I am already 80, not much of this will affect me in the few remaining years that I may have on this earth but I do hate to think of what we are leaving for the next generations or even if there will be many more generations before we turn on ourselves.

This really didn’t come out the way I meant it to and maybe I am not a good enough writer to make it so.