That was the question we had in an unexpected discussion between four of us.
Society, whatever happen to that? What ever happen to unity? Whatever happen to taking care of each other, looking out for each other, helping each other so much so that even smiling to a random stranger seems like a crime to another.
Where did it went wrong?
Is it the smartphones that made us lose the ability to talk face-to-face with one another? Its not like the first time we hear people say they text each other even in their own home, to call out for dinner because most of them are in their own rooms. It happens not just to others but even sometimes in my own family when we got ourselves our own laptop. The good thing is, my family still knocks on your door and calls you out for dinner. But it did happen once or twice whenever they are too tired to walk to our room.
Is it the materialistic life where people get their first car, first house, and all the expensive things even if they could not afford it, or had to tighten their belts later to pay the things they bought last month on their credit card. It worries me sometimes to see how easy people swipe their card even for little things that can be paid by cash.
The credit card were one of the things easily given away when i went for my exchange programme back in Ireland. It comes with the orientation student kit, but I just throw it away and took only the bread and some other things more useful to me. It was also one of the reason why their students got into huge debt that they are already bankrupt before they even start working. And such phenomenon are trending not just in the western world but even to the eastern side, and our own shore, Malaysia.
Between credit card and debit card, i would rather use debit, only if i have to since it deducts your money straight away rather than paying for the interest. I am not sure if any of these youngster are aware that having a credit card is not a luxury but a liability, not just to your own finance, but also to your family especially parents who pays for your credit card.
Its not helpful even to give a car to their children as soon as they get to university, even crazier to give a Mini Cooper to a 12 year old who can’t even drive a car, what more should be given one at such age! Just because she got 5A’s in UPSR, how can these parents give them a car for something that should only be given when they are more mature and financially ready to maintain the car. Unless, they were only buying that for themselves until they are old enough to drive it. Still, I am against rewarding children with things beyond their capacity to receive it.
Perhaps because I did not grew up in a family that gives materialistic reward other than a good meal and time with each other. On my graduation back in my degree, we went for an arabic restaurant nearby our house, and took ‘studio’ photos only in our house with our curtain as the background. It feels awkward to spend so much for a studio photo when you can take outside for free. Some may perceive it as being ‘cheap’, but it was more valuable and free for us to take photos outside a confined building. We just don’t ‘buy’ such culture that makes us pay for what you can get for free.
Quoting from a friend , we (the 80’s – 90’s kid) are the last generation who actually plays outside and actually living our life. I can’t remember the whole thing, but at the time i remember to have pen pals, to play with my friends outside in the neighbourhood, go on a water balloon war, sharing half of the rollerblade with my lil bro , sliding skateboard down and up the hill, cycling around the kampung, riding a raft at the river, swimming at every sight of water, even plays under the rain. and whenever we can’t go out, we would build forts out of mattress with our cousins, hiding under the mattress because i was too tired to go school next day, reads comic book, allowed to watch cartoon only on the weekends or gets permission to play outside in the evening and comes back before dawn. Pretty much the best time of my life!
But now, i was horrified to hear a school kid says out loud that there’s no internet, or that they were going to play football on the computer instead of the football field a walk away, kids demanding for ipad, and even a phone when they are just i don’t know 12? And most parents oblige to their kids demand just because they are too busy to spend time with their kids, and play with them.
It was hard for me at first to think of what kind of games i can play with my niece as she grows up and ask me to play. I even have forgotten most of my childhood games and all the things i did when i was a kid. Took me a while to figure out what to teach her and how to teach her words, something thats educational but fun at the same time so that she dont get bored. We are so glad and lucky that our niece still wants to play outside and would put away the Tab, and follow us to the paddy field. My dad, were one of the important person who introduce her to take leaf and smell it as a way for her to learn what is around her and explore. So every time she sees new leaf she haven’t seen or touch, she’d take it and smell it, then show it to us to do the same.
I know that in this age, security are one of the concerns of the parents. But if we control them too much and don’t let them fall once in a while, how can we pick them up and kiss away their wounds? Sure the rain are acidic than back when we were kids, but if it rains heavily the acids are no longer there. So why not go out and play under the rain once a while?
The problem now is not the society, since its too big to look into, but I would say, ‘community’ around us from the smallest unit, such as family and the neighbours, and all the way up.
Even among friends, it was hard to keep in touch with your friends, or even if you are classmates, back in my undergrad, there’s always these people who keeps their notes to themselves or borrow books forever and never return to give chance to others. Some even hides books so that others wont find, thinking that will make them not scoring better than the other. I got so sick of these ‘culture’ that i put all my notes at the photocopy down the library and post up a ‘Bulletin’ (back when there was friendster) for whoever wants to get these notes and photocopy themselves. It contains spot questions which was just a lucky guess because some of the questions are similar to the previous year. The funny part is that someone else claims it was them who spot those questions in front of the rest of the classmates after exam. That was quite a funny moment for me to be told such news, i wasn’t even angry at the person but laughed all the way of their claims. I never bother to confront that person, that would only embarrass that person since everyone already knows who actually put it there. I’m just saving that person from feeling even worse if they found out the truth about ‘the truth’.
I relate a lot to Morrie Schwartz’s book now than the first time I read it,
A community is far more powerful than an individual and that making an impact on that community is far more fulfilling than focusing only on individual goals. – Morrie Schwartz
Since my research had something to do with community currency, so i can actually relate to what he said back when he was still alive about the importance of a community. The disintegration of society or what we would say as the break up of a community are more evident the more progress and developed we become , the less value we lose from what supposed to make us a better society. We are just good at getting good grades, good food, fancy cars, huge house, and all the things in the world…and not the one thing we should keep…. a heart.
We get so blinded by what the world offers you but inside, we are more alone than ever with all the things around us. We have family in big house, but no one living inside. We get the best smartphones but we don’t really talk to one another, instead, uploads pictures , checks in at fancy places , saying that we are with our friends or loved ones, but in reality, we are just scrolling through our phones …not talking to one another.
I get easily annoyed when people do that, since i value face-to-face conversation more now that i don’t get a lot of time to spend with my friends. So whenever i get to spend time with them, it means i make time for them and gives full attention to what they want to say or share with me without being distracted by any calls or text. I would even ask their permission if you can reply to the incoming call or message from my parents, they are the only person i will allow myself to stop the conversation, or if i was expecting some important call or reply from someone i’d have to meet afterwards. Simple and yet many don’t have the courtesy to do the same by returning the favour.
I read somewhere that , being punctual or arriving on ‘time’ , or things related to time is not about you arriving on time and all that, instead, its respecting the person you are supposed to meet because they are making time for you to meet you there. Students even during my time , would purposely come late because they don’t want to spend too much time in class (forgetting that their parents are paying for their place in university).
Students perhaps don’t realize that their teachers or lecturer also have their own life too, and they are making time rushing to their class only to find their class empty or all these late comers, or students who doesn’t pay attention in the class. Of cause we can’t blame entirely to students just because of this, there’s also lecturers/teachers who may not be up to students expectation as much as the students. But if no one makes an initiative towards making their class better or things around them better, how can we make the world a better place to live?
I can go on and on about this, but we’ll save it for another post. I’m just going to end this with this quote:
So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep,even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way to get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives your purpose and meaning” – Morrie Schwartz