Common Sense in Danger


Not many days ago a friend and I were discussing common sense. In particular the obvious lack of it now days. At least from my perspective. I see some of the things people do and all I can think is, “What on earth were they thinking?! Or did they think at all?” There seems to be an inordinately high incidence of candidates for the Darwin Awards out there now days!

After our little talk I thought about it a bit more. What is different now from when I was young? (I can hear the groans. Here comes the old lady with her “when I was young…” stories. But give me a chance!)

For one thing, recent generations have lived much more protected lives than we did. Face it, our parents were working their tails off and we had to fend for ourselves a lot. As a result, we were able to make a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are good in that they give us an opportunity to learn from experience. What works? What doesn’t work? The consequences of our actions became very apparent very quickly… and the lessons hurt a lot of the time, so they stuck with us! Parents who are overly protective think they are doing their children a favor but they really aren’t. They are denying them the experience of learning the consequences of their actions.

A lot of people, like my friend, blame the lack of common sense on computers and video games. I’m on the fence on that one. On one hand, these games help eye/hand coordination and quicken reflexes. On the other, if kids are allowed to play them exclusive of other, real life outdoor or team activities, the play tends to disconnect the kids expectations of consequences from reality. Stupid as it sounds to me, there have been reports of youngsters responding to deaths & injuries with, “But in such and such a game you don’t die. You just get up again.” That response sounds totally insane to me but… again we come back to experience and expectations of consequences based upon that experience. If your experience is 99% virtual then I suppose it is probable you’d react like that.

What set me off on this particular tangent? I was just entering a large local box store and observed the following interaction: A teenager was in the crosswalk, heading back to his car I guess. Another kid who appeared to be in his late teens was driving a small pick-up truck and, instead of stopping to let his friend cross, “playfully” bumped him with the truck. Teenager #1 went down hard on the pavement, obviously hurt. The driver stopped and got out of the truck, laughing, and said “Come on, Dude! Stop goofing around!”

When the first teen made it obvious he was not goofing around, that he really was hurt, the driver started crying. “Dude, you never get hurt when we do that in the game!

Really?! I guess he never played contact sports, huh?

2 thoughts on “Common Sense in Danger

  1. This also seems to apply at work. We just received a reprimanding memo from Head Office. Under no circumstances
    are we to tell the teens (and believe it or not some adults) who come to the mall with their pants “Literally” down around their knees and their underwear (often dirty) hanging out. They can’t even walk properly! Try it, try walking with the waist of your pants (slacks) below your butt cheeks! Whenever I encounter them (often) I give them a choice either pull up your pants or leave the mall (and go to Walmart). What HAS happened to Common Sense.

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  2. Good points, all, Maryanne. Common sense seems to be fading from the landscape. And, yes, I agree on the issues of protection. We fell down, skinned our knees, learned what to avoid and how to put on a band-aid (and often received a learning reprimand in the process). Your story about the two kids and the truck is a sad message. Too many kids don’t realize that real life isn’t like the movies and games – once someone is shot dead, they remain that way. They don’t appear in the next “movie” in real life. While we see plenty of tragedy and and death and war on the news, it’s distanced, just as it is in computers and movies. It doesn’t directly affect us. It doesn’t seem real. We’re not doing our kids any real favors.

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