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The Wonder of Writing

August 8, 2011

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Melissa Crytzer Fry who blogs at What I Saw… I guest-blogged for Melissa a few months ago with my post, Inspiration in Nature for Writing. I love Melissa’s blog and look forward to reading how she integrates photos and observations of nature with writing themes. Enjoy this guest post by Melissa and be sure to check out her blog too.

By Melissa Crytzer Fry

I wonder. Isn’t this where all storylines begin: “I wonder what would happen if ….”?

Without this simple thought, what would become of fiction? Movies? It’s a daunting thought that presented itself to me during a trip to my home state of Pennsylvania and specifically as a result of interaction with my then 10-year-old nephew.

This is the preferred position of my nephew: head down, focused on technology.

By not looking up, he missed out on the spookiness of this house with trees growing from the rooftop (and all the stories hiding within it).

Given the amount of time he spent with his head bent toward his Nintendo DS, I wondered if he ever “looked up,” and “looked out” around him at the things passing him by during car rides, at dinner tables, during adult conversations. Was he seeing the world around him? That also made me wonder, “Does an I wonder or what if question ever pop into his head?”

He missed the comparison of these wildflowers to the tips of soft-bristled paintbrushes.

What if many of today’s young people don’t possess those imaginative thinking skills, that creativity, that thirst to learn? That love of reading? What happens to literature? To storytelling?

He didn’t see the alluring red of the poison sumac, so unassuming in its velvety cocoon.

Since I don’t have children, I admit I could simply be overreacting … or maybe I am a little justified in my concern? (His friends behave in mostly the same way.)

Because he never rides his bike down the road (and refused to go with me when I did), he didn’t see this spark of color lining the ditches along the roads.

It made me think about my own personality when I was younger. I had make-believe friends, wrote stories, read everything I could get my hands on, and figured out how to entertain myself (mud pies, super hero charades, homespun newspapers …. and during Sunday’s Wide World of Sports, I’d put on my swimsuit and pretend to be a gymnast… What if?).

He didn’t see the robin pulling its breakfast from the ground.

Even today I drive people batty with my questions and my interest in so many topics (those poor doctors, sales people, friends … my poor husband). So the question is: Is my wonderment simply a product of my newspaper reporting background? My fascination with fiction? My inquisitive personality? Is it a generational thing?

He didn’t notice the geometric wonder of this thistle.

And the second question is: if it’s generational (or even a product of less hands-on-parenting/too much TV/video stimulation), what will become of fiction? What will tomorrow’s novels look like? Will they exist as we now know them?

These bald eagles nests – a recent resurgence in the population – don’t fill him with wonder and awe, because he simply doesn’t see them.

I hope the wonder of writing will live on, and that my observations are simply that of a 30-something nearing her forties … someone who may not be as in touch with kids as others…

What do you think? Kids being kids? Or should we have concern for fiction’s future?

Melissa Crytzer Fry is an award-winning, full-time freelance writer and journalist living out her writing dream in southern Arizona, among wildlife ranging from javelina, bobcats and quail to mountain lions, coyotes and Gila Monsters. She is the author of the What I Saw nature/writing/creativity blog and owner of AZCommProCommunications. Melissa is a writer/enthusiast of literary women’s fiction. You can also follow her on Twitter (@CrytzerFry).

All photos are property of Melissa Crytzer Fry and cannot be reproduced without written permission.

66 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2011 1:17 am

    Nice !

  2. August 8, 2011 2:20 am

    Great to see you at Leah’s, Melissa!! Nice surprise! I’ve been worried about this too, and I’ve even read about a “syndrome” called “Nature Deficit Disorder”! Still, I consider myself very lucky… I have two older “kids” (college and beyond) who are extremely high tech oriented but also very nature and science oriented — both notice everything around them. I was lucky when they were young that they self limited themselves on all technology — I never had to turn off the TV or video games, they mixed it up with lots of outdoor time. Both are headed toward science careers but both are also incredible writers and highly creative. It may be that they are similar to my husband and I because we are the same way…. but I, like you, wonder where all this technology, and even social networking, is leading — it can be so isolating, preventing interaction with/observation of nature and with other humans face to face… (and yes, I feel a little silly writing about this from my computer 🙂

    • August 8, 2011 9:42 am

      I would expect nothing less from such a creative family, Julia. Your love of nature is so apparent; and I have to agree with Sue, below, that parents with that sense of wonder pass it along to their children. Wow… Yes, “Nature Deficit Disorder” – it sounds like something many kids suffer from.

      I think technology and nature can exist together. But it’s all about moderation of the technology, I think.

  3. August 8, 2011 5:16 am

    I think it may be a bit of both. I remember we played…not played with electronics – we PLAYED! Kids have lost something with the technology of today.

    • August 8, 2011 9:45 am

      Yes, it reminds me of all the crazy games we concocted, using only our imagination and whatever “tools” we could find: twigs, rocks, weeds, dirt … The sense of wonder in young children is contagious; sad to see it disappear so quickly.

  4. August 8, 2011 6:50 am

    Hi Melissa! We seem to be soul mates! I am naturally curious about everything, too! You bring up some excellent questions. I am the mother of three and feel it is my job to get the kids out of the house on a regular basis. We are blessed to live in an outdoor friendly community (the kids do play outside and up and down the street) we can walk to church, school, the library and town (which we do, daily). But before we moved here, we didn’t get out as much. And part of me is curious: is it designed that way now with all the rules, regulations and loss of free space? Most kids are familiar with swimming in pools, not streams and rivers. I am currently reading “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv (which I am doing a post on tomorrow) and am fascinated with his perspective. We will not be giving up our television, and my children do enjoy electronic games, etc. But we also make a priority spending time each day outside in nature. And most nights outside under the glory of nature’s nightly movie – the stars.

    xoxo michele

    • August 8, 2011 9:50 am

      Hello Michele, inquisitive-one-like-myself! I think it’s wonderful that you are taking such a proactive stance regarding exposing your kids to the outdoors. Even when I tried this with my nephew, he had ZERO interest -because, in my mind, it was a bit too late. He’d already been programmed to seek stimulation from that isolated technology world – not nature. I also agree that location has a lot to do with exposures (rural vs. suburban vs. city); it’s much harder for urban parents to expose their children to nature and outdoor wonder, but I think it can still be done.

  5. August 8, 2011 6:53 am

    I, too, have no children of my own, so I don’t have direct experience with parenting, but sometimes I’m alarmed at both the overprogramming of children (they have no time to read because of so many structured activites) and the emphasis on being entertained over learning to entertain themselves. I do see children reading and being read to, though. I have to believe that storytelling is a human need, so I hope that our society won’t lose touch with reading and writing.

    As always, I love your photos.

    • August 8, 2011 9:53 am

      Wow. I love your comment: “the emphasis on being entertained over learning to entertain themselves.” And I agree about the ‘overprogramming’ of children. I’m pretty shocked at the amount of “homework” these young kids have, as well as the extra planned activities. As you say – where’s the creative free-time to explore and invent?

      You give me faith … “storytelling is a human need.” Yes! It is!

  6. August 8, 2011 7:05 am

    I have just read your blog with interest. Having a 14 year old son, I emphasize with your story as in my house the Xbox takes priority over of book any day but I was pleasantly surprised the other evening when my son returned from a walk with some of his friends to Rudyard Lake, a local beauty spot a few miles from our home here in England where they go fishing. He told me he just had to stop to take a picture on his mobile phone of , in his words, “the most beautiful view” he had ever seen. He had come to the top of the hill, looking down to the Lake where the old steam train still runs in the Summer months.

    I can’t envisage him burying his head in a book, like he used to as a child, but at least I know he can still appreciate some of the wonders this world has to offer.


    • August 8, 2011 9:57 am

      I got goosebumps reading about your son’s reaction. So maybe in a few years my nephew will look out, look up and be amazed!

      As noted, I am no expert in child-raising since I am not a parent, but one has to think that the reading you encouraged in him as a child will come back at some point and may even be responsible for his ability to appreciate the world’s wonders.

  7. August 8, 2011 7:28 am

    Thanks Leah and congrats on your new page!! I love Melissa’s pictures! I started to follow her, when you first guested on her site. Great post, I too worry about too much tv/video games.

    • August 8, 2011 10:00 am

      Hi Ariana. I appreciate your support so much and am so happy I can share my photos with someone other than my iPhoto library :-).

  8. August 8, 2011 7:47 am

    Sadly, I think we do need to be concerned about today’s preoccupation with technology, Melissa. And it’s not just children suffering from it. It is fostering a disconnection with the natural world…as you so eloquently point out. And the boom in junk books (mostly self published 99 cent ebooks) is an example of what our liturature could become. The idea of a dumbing-down of our culture is a frightening one. If we are all so busy with gadgets, who will watch the sunset…and wonder about life?

    • August 8, 2011 10:03 am

      OK – now that terrifies me, too … literature becoming nothing but crappy drivel due to the lack of gatekeeping/quality control that publishers once held. Conversely, some very talented folks who were turned away by traditional publishing are now getting a chance. The tough part for readers, though, is sorting through the good and the bad …

  9. August 8, 2011 8:37 am

    That “What if?” question is one I often ponder, Melissa, and I hope my children will, too. My younger brother just turned 14, and although he loves animals and loves to be outside, he does not spend as much time outdoors — building forts, looking for arrowheads, swimming in lakes, catching turtles — as my older brother and I did when we were his age and younger. Granted, he IS the only child at home, and my parents have since moved to a suburban area that does not allow for such exploration. Still, I fear that his imagination has been stunted by his time indoors while in front of the computer. One of the main reasons my husband and I chose to live in the remote country was so our children could have the same experiences we did.

    • August 8, 2011 10:06 am

      Oh, Jolina … with how super-creative and talented you are – and the rural setting you’ve chosen for your family – how can your children NOT be the “what if” types? Your comment about imagination being stunted by indoors-only exposure really resonates with me. The first two years I lived in rural AZ, I rarely got out to explore. Now that I AM doing it regularly, my creativity has soared. You’re spot-on about the indoor-outdoor-imgaination connection.

      And your childhood sounds so wonderful. Can’t wait to get glimpses of it in your fiction.

  10. August 8, 2011 8:47 am

    I love this post, Melissa. I am a parent, teacher and creativity coach and it’s my belief that while we are all born with a sense of curiosity and wonder, we can lose it if it’s not modeled by those around us and practiced. If a child spends all his time on his DS, which many kids do, he’s not getting what you might call a “creative education” — learning things like questioning, wondering, inventing, imagining, fantasizing and creating original works.

    Creative education used to be a natural part of childhood because we had long hours to fill without easy entertainment. Now that we do have easy entertainment, it’s really important for parents to set limits on those things and model and create opportunities for wonder, fantasy and creation.

    Often the problem, I think, is with the adults, not the kids. Adults need to model curiosity and wonder, take their kids outside, give them unstructured time and provide opportunities for creative play. If they don’t, it’s probably because they have lost their own sense of wonder and imagination underneath all of their adult responsibilities.

    And when the parents are overwhelmed and out of touch with their innate curiosity and wonder, it’s all too easy for the kids to become inactive and bored. (My definition of “bored” is not having that sense of wonder and joy.)

    I’m guessing that your nephew’s parents aren’t painting, making music and lying in the grass on a starry night either. 🙂

    • August 8, 2011 10:29 am

      Oh Sue – I couldn’t agree with you more on all of these points. Thank you for giving concrete names to my wandering thoughts (“creative education” and “easy entertainment.”) The fact that creative education isn’t a natural part of childhood now is so bothersome to me. And your comments about ‘easy entertainment’ ring eloquent and true… I’ve always believed that those passive activities (watching TV, playing video games) are inferior to those activities that engage the senses and stimulate the mind. Don’t get me wrong: I like a good movie like everyone else, but I choose to NOT spend all my time behind a television, choosing reading, first, because of its complexity and the way it challenges the mind. I never was interested in video games as a kid; that kind of “playing” wasn’t fun for me and still isn’t, honestly.

      And you are correct. My nephew’s parents aren’t painters, star-gazers or musicians. No doubt, they have lost their sense of wonder and imagination under the weight of daily responsibility – or maybe they lost it a long while ago for other reasons. I am happy to report, though, that my nephew now is engaged in the school band … that’s a step in the right direction to conditioning and strengthening those creative muscles, I hope.

  11. August 8, 2011 9:10 am

    Very thought provoking. Makes me want to yank my kids out the door for a while. And I love the picture of the house.

    • August 8, 2011 10:31 am

      That house actually has a tie to my family’s history! I discovered the lost “arm” of my family tree and took my Dad to visit that side of the family whenI was last in PA. This was one of the stops on our tour; that home was once was part of the Crytzer family and I now know more about my ancestors who used to live there.

  12. August 8, 2011 10:00 am

    I agree with what Sue Mitchell says. I think it has a lot to do with parenting and making sure children have a balance. Modeling speaks volumes. I retired from teaching and a career as a school administrator, and I think kids are still very creative. Their ideas might deal with an area we weren’t familiar with when we were younger, but they are quick to say, “What if…?” when it comes to games and computer generated imaging. They will be the ones that make us flock to the movies in droves because of their amazing ideas about what technology can show us. They will be the ones to find cures for the things that ail us. But again, we need to make sure they have a balance and bring nature to them if they don’t seek it out. Very nice post, Melissa. Love your choice of a guest blogger, Leah.

    • August 8, 2011 10:36 am

      Thank you so much for the lovely compliment about my post and for bringing such a wonderful perspective to the discussion. I AM amazed at my nephew’s technological ability at such a young age; half the time, he’s the one trouble-shooting my parents’ computer problems. You are so right that this generation will bring technology’s positives to the forefront; one need only look at UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to see the potential applications in military situations – but also in the arts and sciences, as you point out. The key, as you say, is balance. So happy to hear your positive outlook!

  13. August 8, 2011 10:06 am

    Not sure. Perhaps we are all stimulated by different things. My Hubs is most likely to sleepwalk to his computer than anything, but he is also brilliant and analytical in his career. I am the creative one who loves to stare out the window.

    • August 8, 2011 10:38 am

      Yes, I have considered this as well (and I think we live parallel lives; my hubs is the same way, and I’m just like you!). Thank you for the fresh perspective!

  14. August 8, 2011 11:20 am

    I’m loving this post, Melissa, and all the thoughtful comments from readers. Interestingly, went to turn on the TV this morning before Sophie went off to school and the TV was broken! Bryan and I don’t really watch much TV anymore. So chances are, we won’t run out and replace it right away. It’s Sophie who probably watches the TV (not all the time). So maybe the TV breaking and your post is a message to me.

  15. August 8, 2011 11:37 am

    I ‘wonder’ right along with you. When the tech-age children become adults, will they wake up one day filled with regrets of missing the most special part of childhood and the beauty of Mother Nature.
    The message in this post certainly gives one cause-for-pause. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • August 8, 2011 12:21 pm

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, unfortunately you can have a “do-over” of childhood. But I think you CAN start appreciating things as a adult, even if you weren’t exposed as a child.

  16. August 8, 2011 11:40 am

    I’ve lived in Alaska for almost 50 years and have no children, but I have been to a few schools to give guest lectures on science–mostly snowflakes and other weather-related stuff. What I saw was that the young children (early elementary) loved it; high schoolers couldn’t care less. Another thing I notice, more from news than locally, is that many children and even adults have absolutely no understanding of animals, domesticated or wild. They don’t even know where their food comes from.

    • August 8, 2011 12:26 pm

      Your comment reminds me of my ex-brother-in-law. He had no idea ‘where’ or ‘how’ strawberries grew.

      Maybe with the high-schoolers, it just takes time to mature and come back into that ‘state of wonder.’ While I’ve always appreciated nature, I think I love it even more as I get older.

  17. August 8, 2011 4:55 pm

    I think you are right to be concerned Melissa. I love antique books and one of the things I have noticed when reading them is just how much children loved nature and wild animals at the turn of the last Century. There was an immense appreciation for things that children don’t have nowadays because their lives have become so materialistic and society is more dangerous. Who would allow their children to roam on the moors looking for wild badgers?! An awesome post, many thanks.

    • August 8, 2011 9:57 pm

      What a good point. I know that parents are much more overprotective, as would I be … so that definitely plays into it as well! Oh to live in simpler times…

  18. August 8, 2011 9:34 pm

    Thanks for hosting Melissa’s great post on your site, Leah! And Melissa, I’m not around kids much either, so I don’t know if my insight is the most accurate. But I do worry about today’s youth and their ability to not only be creative, but to problem solve. I think so much is left to the parents. I’m about 10 years younger than you, and while all my friends had Mario Brothers Nintendo, my mother refused to allow any of that in our house. Instead, she would tell my sister and me to go play outside during the day. We were only allowed a certain amount of television as well. Today, my sister is a professional artist, and I’m a professional writer.

    I think we’ll still see revolutionary novelists and storytellers in the future, but it will be because their parents instilled such values into their minds.

    • August 8, 2011 9:58 pm

      Your mama did it right, Shari! And I think you’re right: we will see those novelists and storytellers – the direct product of parents who infused creative thinking into their young minds. At least I hope so!

  19. August 9, 2011 12:42 am

    Oh, those were my thoughts EXACTLY on our very long road trip two weeks ago. We were driving through some beautiful country of Idaho and Montana and the kids were playing with their Nintendo DS’s that we had bought for the long trip through Nevada (barren wilderness) that I don’t even like driving through. So the next day when we were going through Yellowstone we packed the electronics away so they could not have them and kind of forced them to look at nature. Those will be the memories that they will remember of looking for different animals while driving, not the games they played.

    • August 9, 2011 8:15 am

      Caren – I love that you packed the DS’s away. You’re right! They’ll remember the animal-spotting adventure for sure. And Yellowstone … ah – one of my favorite places in the world! The wildlife is so breathtaking and wonderful! When hubs and I first drove in, we mistakenly had no binoculars. And after spotting our first bald eagle, we realized we desperately needed them. So we drove 20 miles back OUT to a small town, bought some, and drove back in. TOTALLY worth it, though! So fabulous seeing the wolves, bears, moose, deer, birds ….

  20. August 9, 2011 1:45 am

    Thanks for introducing us to a new blog.

    • August 9, 2011 9:15 pm

      You’re welcome. I think you’ll love Melissa; she’s great!

  21. August 9, 2011 4:11 am

    I totally agree with you. I was at the pool yesterday “researching” and eavesdropping on several kids playing. A few groups had imagination and were pretending to be in a jungle with poisionious plants…at least, until I found out they were simply re-hashing the script of a cartoon. And then there were some high school/ college girls there who sounded like something off Jersey Shore. One didn’t know what indecisive meant. It breaks my heart that children aren’t allowed to let their imagination flourish!

    • August 9, 2011 8:16 am

      Love that you were eavesdropping … I mean, researching (do it all the time!). I share your broken heart…

  22. August 9, 2011 7:45 am

    Hey Melissa, love this post. It’s something we should all be thinking about, parents or not. I had a similar revelation and moment of panic during a recent plane ride. The young family sitting across the aisle had an infant and a 3-year old. I looked at my teenagers and found myself reminiscing about traveling with my kids when they were younger. We’d pack a bag of goodies — pop-up picture books, paper and crayons, Madlib books (still love those!). Then I saw the mom across the aisle hand her smart phone to her 3-year-old. That little girl took over with the skill of an adult, one-handed, using her thumb to scan and tap, and played for more than an hour. Yes, she was quiet (which I’m sure fellow passengers appreciated), but all I could think was that she would end up with carpel-tunnel syndrome by the time she’s 10. I think technology has made parenting easier in a lot of ways. But is it really supposed to be easy? What did that quiet, smart-phone moment steal from that young family? Memories of giggling over tic-tac-toe games played on the seat-back tray, of looking in awe out the plane window at the Rocky Mountains below, of planning the escapades that would take place when they reached their vacation destination… Every generation has its struggles with “progress” and how to embrace that without losing important qualities from the “good old days.” That will never change, but it’s a struggle worth taking on.

    • August 9, 2011 9:33 am

      Wow. Thanks for sharing this experience, Jessica. My mind would have been running through the same questions. Such astute observations about technology making parenting easier in some ways – but that perhaps it isn’t supposed to be easy? The stolen memories you bring up really are worth thinking about… sad, really. And yes, you’re right: it’s a struggle worth taking on.

      By the way, I STILL love MadLib books. Love, love, love them!

  23. August 9, 2011 7:45 am

    Nice article Melissa, this piece has a lot of passion and thought to it! I know this will generate some interesting points of conversation about the future of writing.

    Being a recovering game addict myself, I know there is a need for storytelling in that medium. A well constructed game has a powerful story behind it and needs people in the industry to help weave them properly. It would be good to have everyone see the beauty of nature for what it is but each person learns differently.

    With the advent of ebooks and other tech, I’m sure the written word will still thrive, just not as we know it. Seems like a loss of a grand tradition but a great way to explore the future.

    Fantastic post!

    • August 9, 2011 9:38 am

      Wow. What a great perspective. I never really thought about the video game-story connection. But you’re right; kids can see stories through many of these games, too – if they’re properly executed/designed and not just passive. You need to develop some of them!

      And you’re right: everyone does learn differently. I agree 100%. My main concern with my nephew is that he just never bothered to “look up” and “see” anything around him. No doubt he may be better at learning through technological media, but I wonder what all that ‘head-time’ and ‘zero focus on the outside world’ does to a child’s psyche and sense of wonder…

      Yes, perhaps e-books will ensure that that the stories live on! If recent sales are any indication, that is precisely what’s happening! Thank you for stopping by.

      • August 9, 2011 10:15 am

        Oh, I don’t know if I could go in the “meat grinder” when it comes to video games. I have seen first hand the people that work on these projects and they are underpaid and overworked… But that is for another forum on a different day.

        It is true though, sometimes you have to put the tech down and live a little, see things with your own eyes and experience the thrill. There are times when these things are tougher to get to and the marvels of tech can play out but as with all things, there should be some balance… I would hope!

  24. August 9, 2011 8:12 am

    I do think it depends quite a bit on the environment children are raised in. Traits like curiosity are passed down in most cases, but habits come from the environment. Children have natural inquisitiveness, but in the current environment, much of that inquisitiveness is focused in areas different than the ones we focused on (and I’m saying this as someone who grew up as Nintendo did).

    I took a college course on pop culture. The generational swings were extreme, but creativity remained in all areas–as war, culture clashes and melting pots, and psychosocial opinions changed people, ways of life, language, history perceptions, and more. Their parents probably thought their kids were doomed never to experience the joy of the arts. And they were in the sense that instead of carrying on certain artistic legacies, they invented their own.

    We can see a microcosm of this with each remake of fairy tales like Alice and Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Could any of you imagine watching something like that as kids? Why not? These remakes came from adult minds of your own and your parents’ generations, and you think your kids would love to see it although your own parents would never have conceived of anything like them for you.

    I’m no fan of video games–we had one at one point when we were younger, but got rid of it (not before I reached the highest level!). Now we have no television at all in our home, and we don’t miss it. There’s no arguing the fact that kids are missing out on some great sensory and intellectual experiences for every minute they spend wearing out their thumbs in front of a screen, and the recent story of the death of a young person who couldn’t seem to move at all brings home the priority mix-up we’re dealing with in some cases.

    But not all of us are. On the other side of the world–and on the bottom half of this one–are millions of kids who have never seen Super Mario. They’re working hard at learning to read, write, think, and craft. So I think we’re in for some very interesting stories from people of my own and future generations, but they’ll be very different than the ones we’re accustomed to.

    • August 9, 2011 9:41 am

      Thanks for the thoughtful post, Shakirah. Yes – the moral of the story is to embrace change, isn’t it? And that, as humans, we tend to be pretty adaptable. I appreciate the positive outlook and feel better about the future of fiction :-). The pop culture class sounds fascinating, by the way!

  25. August 9, 2011 10:04 am

    A lot of great questions asked. Studies try to prove that nothing is lost, that the younger generation is filled with the kind of creativity that invents Google, etc. But I don’t see that as actually engaging in the world around you. It’s so necessary to look at nature, precisely because it’s open to so much interpretation and imagination.

    • August 9, 2011 4:56 pm

      I agree with you wholeheartedly, Julie. It truly is different than engaging in the world around you, and as you note, the beauty of the world IS its fluidity and lack of mono-interpretation.

  26. August 9, 2011 11:16 am

    I am late to this party, but wanted to echo what the others have said and you. I wonder all the time, probably more than I should about the future of writing, novels, stories, what people find entertaining. I am not old as I have lived a hundred years and I do stay connected with the world around me (most of the time) but I find myself sometimes befuddled by what keeps people entertained today. There seems to be a lack of imagination or unwillingness to put the effort forth. I don’t understand why people want to watch other peoples lives on television. I really don’t. I openly admit that I am child of Hollywood and love to watch movies and no stranger to pop culture because of this, and I read, and blog and have kids… but still I wonder about the direction we are headed… No answer to this question, just a fellow writer rambling.

    • August 9, 2011 4:58 pm

      You aren’t the only one who doesn’t “get” the fascination with ‘reality’ television. I’d much rather go for a walk or read a book! I, too, wonder where we’re headed.

  27. August 9, 2011 4:02 pm

    I think it’s a bit of both. My kids definitely have more exposure to electronics than I ever did – how could they not? 99% of the things they play with couldn’t have even been imagined 30 years ago! But they also have naturally inquisitive personalities for which I take credit or blame depending on the day. I do try to limit their exposure to technology and maximize their exposure to the outdoors, but I am a bit of a geek and think that to some degree, they need to be aware of what is out there and how to use it responsibly….

    • August 9, 2011 5:04 pm

      The key is that YOU are nurturing that inquisitiveness. Read an article today that said “uth mentoring programs can be effective in retaining and even enhancing a child’s existing interest in the outdoors, but they’re not as good at sparking an interest in kids with no previous outdoor experience”

      Read more:

      Interesting! And, hey – geeks rule :-). Thanks for chiming in.

  28. August 9, 2011 6:22 pm

    Hi Melissa! You know, as much as I hate to admit it (but do so freely) I often credit my vivid, unflagging imaginaiton to early TV watching. Cartoons, the era of super hero live action shows, and let’s not forget Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Charlie’s Angels! most definitely impacted me in a positive way–but I think the difference in today’s world is that we were limited in our viewing potential. For me, TV was a jumping board. I pushed off and landed into books, art, nature, all sorts of play. My husband is a biologist and we spend SO much time outside with our kids. That kind of inquisitiveness, that as you say “What If” is so crucial to finding joy, I truly believe that. To seeing our place in the world–and seeing how we impact others, a very real global responsibility that I think we have to impart to one another, and to every generation.

    • August 9, 2011 8:22 pm

      I can see your point, Erika. I think you’re right that we were limited by our choices, though; there weren’t 1000 channels and shows (at my house there were three television stations, and I watched what you watched). And I will also admit that movies were very inspirational to me when I wrote my first novel. I watched them with a keen eye on the ‘story’ and the ‘characters’ and ‘plot’ – not just for entertainment.

      I bet your household is such fun, being married to a biologist. You are giving your children gifts they will cherish for a lifetime: nature appreciation and creative arts through your writingl!

  29. August 9, 2011 6:48 pm

    Melissa–you are SO right and it’s terrifying to think about. You’d be proud to know that my in-laws sent us a Wi-ii for Hanuakkah last year (for the kids) and we sent it back!!! I’m terrified of the kids becoming the type who can’t just play without the aid of something electronic.

    • August 9, 2011 8:18 pm

      Hip, hip hooray to you, Nina! I’m sure your kids will be wildly imaginative – taking after their mama!

  30. August 10, 2011 7:22 am

    A wonderful post. I’ve worried about this a lot myself. When our kids were growing up, we refused to buy them the gamestations. It made us “mean parents,” lol, but I like to think it’s part of the reason that my now adult and near-adult children like to journal, write novels and shorts, dabble in photography, and spend a lot of time hiking in the country “just to look around.”

    • August 11, 2011 9:07 am

      The world definitely needs more “mean parents” like you! And I’m guessing that your children’s creative sides are a direct result of your influence and nurturing! Ahhh. I wish more people understood the joy of hiking. I had a friend once who said, “I don’t understand why you’d climb to the top of the that hill, just to come back down.”

  31. August 10, 2011 7:59 am

    Excellent post. I grew up without any Nintendo thingies at home, thanks to my mom (and much to my little brother’s chagrin!), and I am grateful for it. Now, as a mother, there is very limited exposure to tech at our house – no tv, no game systems (though my oldest is only 2.5, I’d like to keep it that way as he gets older, if at all possible), and I even was strongly opposed to borrowing a portable DVD when we took a 6 hours car ride with the kids (I did concede, though, since my husband was VERY nervous about kiddie meltdowns).

    So, my toddler’s idea of electronic entertainment is watching the screen savers on our laptop from time to time. And I enjoy watching his creative play blossom. Yesterday he was cooking imaginary food in his toy kitchen. And he was also imitating his father’s actions, by “going to synagogue” and “putting on his prayer shawl.” It’s neat to see what comes out of his little, yet very active, head.

    However, I wonder if it’s not a personality thing. Some people like to read, some don’t. Some people are more creatively minded, some more analytical. I’m not sure how much of it is personality, and how much is generational. That would be an interesting study.

    • August 11, 2011 9:10 am

      I am always amazed at the ‘wonder’ young children exhibit and how their tiny minds can come up with such creative play ideas. What a world it would be if we could all still think like children. I agree that some people are more creative while others are more analytical, but what if we’re creating a society filled with children who are neither… That’s what scares me. The passivity of so much of what they do today is worth worrying about, I think.

  32. August 10, 2011 2:22 pm

    I agree – there are times when I really worry about the future of our children because they have so much “stuff” to distract them.

    • August 11, 2011 9:11 am

      I find that even as an adult, there are too many distractions today. I can’t imagine having to navigate a world like that when I was a youngster. There’s something beautiful about simplicity and the way it makes the mind work, don’t you think?


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