How in the heck do we stay on track in 2012 America? We have access to pretty much anything we want to know via the internet, and I want to know everything. Sometimes I think I need blinders, especially when I sign on to Facebook. Otherwise, that wondrous time-suck evaporates a quarter of my day before I realize what’s happening.
It starts innocuously enough. I allow myself to go on in the morning to post my blog or (in the case of this morning) to post photos of my grandparents holding the fox and owl and link to the revised earlier blog.
Blogging done, I click on my “Writers” List to see if there are any announcements or information pertinent to the profession. I was proud of myself when I set up all my Facebook “Lists” because I knew it would help (and has helped) me save time when I only want to get on professionally instead of personally. This would be great if it weren’t for that darn News Feed on my Home Page.
Today, two things led me astray.
The first was a video posted from a Vietnamese friend, showing corporal punishment at a school there. It was tough to watch, even coming from a family that spanked (albeit rarely) and from a father who did threaten the belt (and I’m told used it on at least one older sibling) though Dad left before I was old enough for it myself. Truthfully, I only remember one spanking from my parents, and it came from my mother.
Now, let’s be clear – I did receive spankings from non-parents. There was a neighbor, Mrs. Schreckengast? Schreckengost? who whacked the crap out of me with a wooden spoon, her hand a vice-grip on my arm as I clenched my butt and tried to keep it forward and out of her reach. I don’t remember what the punishment was for, only who gave it, so, uh, yeah. THAT was effective. I learned not to do, uh, what did I learn again?
In 3rd grade, I received the awful paddle from Ms. Haliday at Rayne Township. It was a flat board with holes in it. One smack, bent over, in front of an entire room of my peers and I learned…uh, darn it. What was it I had done wrong? Why is it so much easier to remember the punishment (and the punisher) than the crime?
The spanking from my mom was, I’m sure, actually deserved, since my mom never spanked (although if you ask my ebberlubbinbrudder, she probably should have spanked me more 😉 ). Anyway, we were in a Hills Department store (remember those?) and in this situation I do remember I was acting up or acting out. I don’t know what it was about.
I wasn’t an easy teenager (yes I was a teenager for my first and only spanking from a parent) and between the hormones and lingering typical issues of a child of divorce, I remember I was whining or running my mouth loudly and probably embarrassingly. I might have actually been pitching a serious fit right there in the middle of the store (way too old to be pitching I fit, I remember).
Anyway, there we were, in the middle of an aisle, rows of clothes on either side of us. I could hear someone getting a coke from the counter behind us, and smell the popcorn, and taste the humiliation of whack after whack on my rear. Mom clutched my arm in the same way our neighbor had. It must give some kind of leverage to the smacker. I was trying not to cry, because I was way too old for a paddling in Hills at The Mall (this was in the days before The New Mall).
So it was with mingling nostalgia (I would take that spanking over in a heartbeat to have Mom here giving it to me again) and that feeling of humiliation again that I watched this video posted by my friend.
It’s still hard to watch. Our America, the America in which this type of punishment took place not too long ago (and maybe still does in some areas?) has gotten on the anti-corporal punishment bandwagon. Studies have shown that classroom humiliation and violence decrease self-esteem, work in the opposite manner of their intended use. But I deciphered, as best I could through Bing’s ridiculous translation, that this is a conversation my friends in VietNam are now having.
And the conversation itself is amazing to watch—history in the making as they argue the merits of and detriments of, this type of corrective action. I wondered, was I seeing the whittling away of traditions as I read his own story of being punished this way in the same school, and his discussion of Tiger Mom and how he and his peers try to resolve and come to a different understanding.
I realized it wasn’t my place to judge this, only to observe their history unfolding as they try to find the best ways to improve their standards of education, as well as quality of life. There are a lot larger battles to pick, and the value of understanding my friend and his culture is higher than inserting my western appraisal.
After taking the time to post my comment in a way that didn’t *feel* too judgmental and thanking him for continuing to share these cultural differences so openly, I tried to close Facebook. Really, I was prepared to get back to my VietNam Reader and writing an essay about Saigon, when I was distracted by a Sea Swallow. Here is a picture. How can you not be distracted by that?
A friend who posts copious amounts of photography (to which I sometimes throw out a *Like* but often just look happily as I’m scrolling through) had a caption with it that read “Beautiful but deadly.”
Ooh! How can I keep from throwing a little thumbs-up for a comment so intriguing! So naturally, because we are in this age of technology and because my encyclopedias are moldy and probably dated to a time before sea swallows were studied, I just had to Google that cute little wiggly fellow. Yes. Venomous. A type of sea slug. Next I did an image search and came across a picture of an Asian guy in handcuffs. wtf?
Closer inspection showed it was a still from a video. So I went to YouTube, and found the video, “Sea Swallow” by Rei Satoshi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJsZ3xwdMhE
It has no lyrics and I’ll be honest, I don’t get it. At first I really wanted to connect the name with the video. Is he saying the chick is deadly or venomous? Maybe they carry more meaning in Japan. I was tired of Googling and ready to get back to my book, so I didn’t follow that trail. The video ends at the ocean, but that’s the only ocean connection. I decided it didn’t really matter today. I could sit and try to analyze the chains, the flowing white scarf, the prison and create some meaning, but I’m just enjoying the music, the weird quirkiness of the video and discovering where a google search of Sea Swallow took me.
Maybe I don’t need blinders every day. Some days, it’s okay to just view random posts and follow the links. I’m not in an episode of Touch. There doesn’t have to be a point. Things can just be random and interesting observations about the world outside, or, today, the world of cyberspace.