Was Life Easier “Back in the Day?”
It seems that every generation asks this question. It also seems the answer tends to be a resounding “yes!” Whether it’s true or just a fond nostalgia is open to debate, but I tend to think it’s a truism. Growing up in the late 60s through the 70s, what I remember are summer days spent playing with my friends outside until it was getting dark and trying to race the streetlights to get home before they all came on. Winter days meant sledding, building snowmen and snowball fights. Even if some of those “fights” were really sneak attacks on someone’s sister. Today, with the proliferation of video games, phones, tablets and computers, things seem a bit more hectic.
According to one information source for 2017, over 7.2 million American children ages 0-17 are taking some sort of psychiatric medication. That’s almost 1-in-10 children according to government estimates. That is a staggering number of parents depending on Ambien for sleep problems, Ritalin for ADHD issues and Zoloft for kids suffering from clinical depression. These issues used to be the provenance of adults, but obviously, they are impacting children in a big way. But why?
The concept of picking on somebody who is different is as old as mankind itself. Today, it tends to be called “shaming” but the reasons are the same, a person gets mocked because they have a physical illness or deformity, or they’re too fat or too skinny, or they’re too tall or too short, the list is pretty much endless. When one clique decides another person or group is unworthy for some reason, the problems begin. Here are two reasons the problem may be more intense today than in years past:
No Escape–During my childhood years bullying was just as hurtful and traumatizing as it is today. However, once we went home we had an oasis where we could get away from it. Not so today. With the advent of the internet and social media, today’s child is bombarded with the ridicule of their peers from the time they wake up until the time the finally fall asleep.
Anonymity–Today, it’s far too easy for people to post or tweet something and never see the reaction of the target of their jibe. When they can’t see the crumpled face or the hurt look in the eyes, it’s easy to ignore the consequences. Not to mention that it is much easier for other people to pile-on. The circle of friends of the poster/tweeter simply click “like” and suddenly the are dozens of people making fun of the victim.
One of the most tragic and devastating effects of bullying is childhood suicide. If you, or you suspect someone else, may be contemplating taking your own life, reach out and contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Like it or not, being a child today is very different than it was in days gone by. The pressure is more constant and ratcheted up by several notches and busy parents rely on the quick fixes offered via pharmaceuticals. That’s not a condemnation upon parents in any way. They’re just trying to help their children by going to trusted medical professionals who tell them how the pills will help.