Culture Vultures

Everybody is so concerned about climate change and air pollution and noise pollution yet I wonder why aren’t we concerned with the culture vultures - those predatory things that steal our humanity.

Culture vultures remind me of a movie called the Time Machine – and not the 2002 one, but the original one from 1960 with Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimmieux. It was based on an 1895 novella by HG Wells, who, many people now think, was a visionary. It’s surprising how many of the things he predicted over a hundred years ago actually became realities.

In the story, the Time Traveler (Rod Taylor), goes into the future to some bizarre year, like the year 800,000. And, when he gets there, he finds a group of homogeneous-looking young people hanging out by the water, having a good time, and engaged in somewhat mindless chatter.

As the Time Traveler watches, one young woman (Yvette Mimmeux), slips into the water and starts to drown. Everyone watches but nobody moves - or even seems to care. The Time Traveler is stunned because they just watch her drown. He shouts at a couple of the young Eloi men, who look at him like he’s crazy. So the Time Traveler jumps into the water and saves the almost-dead Weena. She is, of course, grateful. But all the other Eloi are scratching their heads, confused that the Time Traveler risked his life to save the young woman.

What got me thinking about that scene in the Time Machine was the five Florida teenagers, ages fourteen to sixteen, who saw a thirty-two year old disabled man fall into a retention pond and drown. They didn’t call 9-1-1 or do anything that might have saved his life. To the contrary - they harassed and laughed at him as he drowned. Those kids were that man’s only hope for life…and they did nothing. And the last thing that man heard was a bunch of teenagers mocking him.

Worse yet, those kids actually filmed that man’s drowning and posted it on social media. In the clip, you can hear them in the background joking about the man coming up for air for the last time.

It’s like the Time Machine movie – except it isn’t the year 800K something. It’s now.

I know every generation pushes the envelope a little further. You and I did it too. But I don’t know if it was like this…do you think it was?

I was so disturbed me that I called a communications expert to talk about it. She told me something very disturbing: that since those younger people have been using computers and the internet and stuff since they were little, it’s had an impact on the way their brains are wired. Add social media and they lost their ability to have a meaningful sense of human connection – just like the Eloi. They live their emotions out through various emojis. Then they don’t know what to do when – say, at work or at a social gathering – they actually look into the eyes of someone who doesn’t agree with them, or who disapproves of something they said or did.

Since our primitive, natural, go-to protection mode is confrontational until we learn better – and they don’t know better, - that’s what they do.

Us Victory Chicks learned better when we were younger. The millennials didn’t – and we were so enthralled with their online skills that we neglected to teach them.

Those kids in Florida were arrested but not charged. Legally they didn’t do anything wrong. Morally and ethically…well, that’s another story, isn’t it?

So what do we do about it?

We can start now with our kids. We don’t always have control over what’s outside our homes, but we do have control over what we do and what happens inside our homes. We can choose to change our behavior and, with our own kids and in our own families, we can raise the bar of what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

What’s one thing you can do differently to keep the culture vultures away?