By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings
It’s easy to spot one of these humans who cross the street without looking while chatting on her cell phone. Just watch her lips move as she mumbles into the mouthpiece. A jabber blabber may be wandering around in a parking lot staring straight ahead as he expresses himself out loud – totally oblivious to other moving objects. One of them nearly ran into me driving a new car dangerously, one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a cell phone to an ear. All three of them are animatedly chatting with someone using a handheld communication device. With the explosion of conversation among talkative humans that circulates rumors and innuendoes today, these communicative individuals are a serious menace to our decaying human civilization.
To senior citizens it appears that these busy young folks don’t have time for keen observation, sound analysis, or learning about reality until it’s too late. But bad experiences make for good lessons, some smart folks say. What is so important to these garrulous young folks that they have to be chatting all the time? Or sitting around playing extermination games on a hi-tech gizmo called I-something? Or watching the antics of a friend on a two inch video screen? Is their actual life so dull and boring that they need extra visual and aural stimulation?
The music blasting from some passing cars is at a volume that could deafen the most sensitive ears. Does anyone need an extra loud “thump, thump, thump” on a bass drum to call his or her unfocused attention to a rapper’s rants about some hectic inner-city lifestyle in the “hood?” I know that “getting educated” is not much fun for most youngsters and adolescents, but being educated is essential for surviving in the modern world if and when you exit high school.
Amusing ourselves with lollygagging is the most insidious time-wasting human activity. Spending hours gossiping and repeating misinformation, garbled conversations, inaccurate facts, distorted statistics, and manipulated messages will not turn young individuals into productive adults. Hanging out and chatting about whatever is not going to prepare young men and women for a challenging future.
The basic question confronting our nation’s leaders today is: Should Americans be concerned about the lack of industriousness, creativity, rigorous analysis, and intellectual achievement in our youthful society? The underdevelopment of these essential human attributes won’t qualify graduates to fit into our modern workplace. All work and no play may turn Johnny into a dull boy, but all play and no work will make him a candidate for welfare and other financially stressed government assistance programs.
The more young men and women become accustomed to be entertained or to spend time chatting or complaining about trivial events in their lives, the more they will be unhappy when routine work is finally assigned to them. Most young college grads have no idea what a job entails because few of them have worked full time to support themselves. The last time I interviewed potential graduates from a Big Ten university who were applying for a job in the automobile industry, only one in 17 had any work experience, and that job was part time work for the local book store in that college town.
The globalization of the workplace is creating serious and cheaper competition for jobs from energetic and motivated foreigners who need the income and have no government safety nets for the unemployed. As competition becomes keener and more jobs are exported from the U.S., the local opportunity for job-seekers is significantly reduced. There is not much demand for young aspirants who can send text messages using their thumbs and dial a friend’s phone number using a touch screen.
Industrious foreign students are flocking to U.S. universities, and the school administrators are happy to see them because non-state residents pay a much higher tuition. Besides these, there are plenty of local students who have outstanding grades, good study habits, and a strong incentive to become qualified for the jobs being offered when they graduate. I am concerned for those young men and women who are distracted by the modern casual way of living. They are not going to be prime candidates for the few ordinary jobs left here in America.
Repetitive physical labor and boring, routine paper-shuffling jobs have never provided much satisfaction to adults who were unable to complete high school or college. Sitting hours in front of a computer monitor is not personally rewarding either. Unfortunately, the great majority of students today have no exposure to the daily requirements of “working for a living.” Cheap immigrant laborers are cleaning houses, maintaining yards, and delivering newspapers in California. Migrant laborers are working long hours in the fields, vineyards, and orchards to cultivate and harvest farm crops. Such laborers don’t have much time to play computer games and chat for hours on cell phones.
Jabbering on a cell phone may help some people fill empty hours by chatting with friends when visiting them is impossible. However, it keeps a person from reading something beneficial, doing something that shouldn’t be postponed, or initiating some activity like signing up for a class that would help them make progress toward a “fuller,” more rewarding life. Possessing the habit of chatting to pass the time will not enhance a person’s performance on the job. A friendly personality may be necessary for a customer service rep, but compatible industriousness is much more important for other endeavors.
The hi-tech amenities of human life contribute to making most work easier, but the time saved ought to be used for keeping up with the competition. Otherwise, an employee will fall behind and eventually become obsolete in his or her job. Being productive is the key to progress in a capitalistic economy. The most productive workers will be the last fired or laid off when a company has to shed costs. Those who read financial statements know that labor costs can be the biggest cost item in a company’s income statement.
Young people should strive to find a career that they might enjoy, fill their free time with satisfying amusements, and take care of the urgent needs of their family. To achieve the latter, all of us must dedicate ourselves to maintaining our competitive edge in some occupation or risk losing our toe-hold in the never-ending struggle to survive in this rapidly evolving global economy.