Life hurts

My granddaughter and many of her friends are having big problems in high school. Their problems are identical to those of my generation but this generation is even more clueless than we were. They have no idea how to cope. They are like those monkeys raised with wire mothers, at a loss to relate to other monkeys. 

They don’t know the difference between a real friend and a casual acquaintance. The glib labeling from social media is, for them, the real deal … until they discover it’s not.

Becoming a misfit in high school is easy. If you are different, you are going to have social problems. How large these problems loom is a function of the vulnerability of the individual.

In the “good old days” when I was growing up, rumors and lies spread no faster than however long it took to pass the word from person to person. Today, with the click of a mouse on a Facebook page or mobile phone, the same meanness, backbiting and gossip that has always been with us can be distributed instantly to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. It’s the same stuff, but it gets around faster.

Schools can’t deal with the problem. It’s too amorphous. They can’t control the Internet, text messages, and social media sites. It’s so easy to pick on someone. It doesn’t even have to be intentional.

A moment of pique, thoughtlessness, a casual reference, ordinary gossip can do an enormous amount of damage to a fragile adolescent ego. The electronic world is as real to them … maybe even more real … than traditional relationships. I’m not sure they understand there is a difference.

I’ve watched the dynamics of this first generation of young people for whom cell phones and computers are as ordinary as electricity was for us. I’ve watched them sit together in groups preferring to text each other rather than talk. I’ve wondered how in the world they would ever learn how to have a real relationship, to make the kind of friends that last a lifetime.

The answer is that they haven’t learned. They are lost.

They are starting to pay the price of hiding behind electronic communication. They have used it as a substitute for face time, conversation, of really being with other people.

Shy kids have had no motivation to get over it. They can’t handle even the simplest conversation. They don’t get it that people can be two-faced, dishonest, and just mean and that it isn’t personal. People are what they are. We older people could help if they let us, but we’re fossils, stupid old people suggesting they talk to each other, spend time together, that you can’t become “best friends for life” by exchanging emails.

They’ve relied on words alone, out of context of the rest of the package: facial expression and body language.  They have never learned to “read” people. They can’t see when someone is lying.

Growing up is hard. Being a teenager is rough. It was as true 50 years ago as today, but we never had the choice of hiding behind a computer.

A lot of young people have had only minimal contact with other kids. There are a lot of forces at work, not only the hyper-availability of technology but also the fearfulness parents, the limited availability of free time, the overly structured lives kids have. They can’t just hang out. They aren’t encouraged to do stuff  independently.

If my generation suffered from unwillingness to discipline our kids, this generation of parents not only doesn’t discipline kids, they smother and over-protect them from life itself. They label everything as bullying. They do not encourage their offspring to face problems and assure them they can handle it, that you don’t get emotional strength by avoiding life. Instead they buy into the endless psychobabble and make their kids feel even more helpless.

I’m not surprised at the problems. Despite my son and daughter-in-law’s contention that kids are meaner than they were, I don’t agree. Kid, people, are no different than they ever were.  The difference is that parents are afraid to let their kids work out their problems. They don’t let them grow up. Sometimes, I think they don’t really want them to grow up, as if they want them to stay permanently dependent and childish. They have no idea how much they will regret it.

It’s natural to want to protect your children from hurt, but you shouldn’t protect them from life.

Life hurts. Life is also wonderful, rich, rewarding, exciting. But never pain-free.

There’s no turning back from technology. Nor would most of us want to dump our computers and cell phones. There does need to be a better balance. Technology won’t produce relationships. Exchanging words is not bonding. Sending texts and emails can’t establish closeness.

It’s a tall order convincing teenagers that emotional pain is part of growing up. Nothing but experience will help toughen them up so they can function in the world.

No one gets a pass from pain. Money won’t buy it. Private schools won’t keep life away. There’s only one way to become a survivor — experience. These kids need to get out and live. Put the cell phones away and talk to each other. Get involved. Let life happen to them, be swept away by events and emotions. Learn that feelings are manageable … with practice.

They aren’t getting the message. Maybe if they read it on Facebook?


Turkeygeddon: The Thirteen Best Turkey Attack Videos

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

Turkeys: traditional holiday roast, are some bad-ass birds. Turkey attacks are apparently quite common: wild turkey populations are on the rise, with around 3 million of them in the US. According to experts, birds that “get accustomed to suburban life apparently start to see people as other turkeys” and naturally defend their turf.

Should you have the misfortune to happen upon a vicious turkey, here are some tips gleaned from the videos below: sticks are a good defense. Mailmen are not, as turkeys are known to “have something against the US Postal Service.” Hide in your car. Do not taunt them. Try to appear less like a rival turkey. If you’re dealing with a group of turkeys — called a rafter, a gang, or, less formally, a gobble — well, good luck.

Last year was all about the best deep-fried turkey disaster videos, but here now, the thirteen best turkey attacks videos around. Ordered by the level of terror — from a little scary to absolutely terrifying.


Great videos for your Thanksgiving enlightenment.

On a personal note: You can’t make this stuff up. Last summer,  a turkey attacked me while I was in my car. They don’t call them turkeys for nothing. They’ll take on anyone or anything! Watch the skies, Keep watching the skies!!

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A Thanksgiving Story

See on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1862, Boston abolitionists Lewis and Harriet Hayden hosted the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, John Albion Andrew for dinner at their home on Beacon Hill. Hayden, a self-emancipated black man, and Andrew, the white Republican Governor who won election on the same ticket with President Abraham Lincoln, were good friends and it was not uncommon for them to share dinner. However, such a public and special occasion in Massachusetts was noted and discussed by the citizenry.

Lewis Hayden extended the dinner invitation with one sole purpose, to devise a plan to secure President Lincoln’s agreement to enlist black troops from the north in the Civil War. Hayden knew that the enlistment of “colored citizens” to fight for their liberties and fundamental rights was urgent.

Before Governor Andrew departed that evening, he promised to seek federal permission to form a regiment of black soldiers as soon as the President signed The Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. He traveled to Washington, DC and met with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on January 26. Stanton authorized Massachusetts to recruit additional troops and Andrew wrote in the margin of the order, “and may include persons of African descent, organized in separate corps.” We now know those men as the Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment, made famous in the movie Glory! We also know that the Governor sent Harriet Tubman ahead to prepare for their arrival in South Carolina.

This Thanksgiving, as we reflect on our lives and all that we are grateful for, the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket thanks you for all you have done to help us share amazing stories of people of goodwill, from all backgrounds, who helped to shape our nation. In this season of giving, will you help us continue to share these important stories that inform and instruct us today? Your year-end contribution or membership to the Museum of African American History would be greatly appreciated and put to good use.

Freedom was paramount for Hayden who escaped slavery in Kentucky to become the proprietor of a men’s clothing establishment and an important colleague with white abolitionists in Boston. The Hayden home welcomed at least 100 self-emancipated men, women and children arriving via the Underground Railroad network. Their boarding house had twelve chairs in the living room for their boarders and visitors including Harriet Beecher Stowe. Over the trajectory of their freedom, Lewis was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature and Harriet left some $4,000 in her will to Harvard University for a scholarship for black medical students.

Now, as we look to welcome in a New Year, and a robust season of exhibits, educational and public programs in Boston and an on Nantucket, I am grateful for your willingness to stand with the Museum with a gift commitment of any size. Make a gift online at

Beverly A. Morgan-Welch
Executive Director

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