Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017, still weird

So apparently Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Baily is shutting down its circuses.

There are a couple of one-liners I can get out of this:

1. I don't think a bunch of unemployed clowns is going to be a good thing

2. I guess I can't threaten to run away and join the circus any more.

(And another thought: could this a symptom of the "great middle" being lost, where we are left with the few, small, kind-of-downmarket traveling circuses on one side, and the pricey and somewhat arty Cirque du Soleils on the other? My family went to RBBandB a couple times when I was a kid, and while I remember it as "not as great as I thought it would be" [nosebleed seats in the Richfield Coliseum], still...another thing of my childhood gone)

But I will say: these kinds of things DO make me feel old. There was an article in the paper up where my parents live around the turn of the new year about how Generation X is beginning to consider its mortality given that so many of its "icons" (from Florence Henderson to David Bowie) died last year.

(Though I admit at the time - when I was still worrying about my mom even though she was on the mend by then - I thought "forget the entertainment 'icons,' what worries THIS Gen-Xer is the thought of losing all the people in her actual life that she cares about")

But yes. I stand by a throwaway line I said in a discussion of "A Christmas Story" a year or more ago: my childhood has more in common with Ralphie Parker's than my niece's will with mine. And in some ways, that makes me sad - there are a lot of things I remember enjoying that aren't around any more, or that have changed a lot. And as much as I love the Internet for many things, I think it would have been very bad for it to have been around when I was a kid (can we say, "Cyberbullying"?)

I mean, I think I get why the circus was in decline: concerns about animal welfare made it uncomfortable for many (and they did stop using elephants). And probably people are less-willing to go "out" for that kind of entertainment when there's so much screen-based entertainment you can have in your home (And, I suppose, in the age of ISIS and the "ISIS inspired," a circus is a pretty soft target).

I confess, I feel a little sad about the death of malls, too. I do a lot of online shopping but that is partly because I live in a remote rural area. I would use Amazon far less if there were a nice bookstore in town - I love being able to go into a bookstore to browse and I love the serendipity of finding a book I never knew existed but realize I want to read based on the comments of people in the store or reading its blurb. And I wonder if we're going to see some kind of change in the grocery store model, where stores, especially in rural areas, find it more "profitable" to expect people to order things online and come pick them up (I read recently that wal-mart is wanting to increase its "online to store" model, where people do just that, but with things like appliances). I don't know. I'm an introvert who hates noise and chaos but I'm also an introvert who gets sad and weird when she's alone too much, and the thought of just e-mailing a shopping list and having a drone deliver my food would be bad for me.

Also, I do think the tendency of people to stay in their own living rooms leads to more anti-social behavior out in public. I've talked about how people seem to think they are in a "bubble of their own living rooms" and are loud or crude or do stuff like dink on their phone while walking and don't look out for other people. And I do think there's some feedback of this in and around the death of of the news stories over the holidays was how several malls became scenes of large fights among groups of teenagers, and while that was probably more a parenting issue (or rather, a non-parenting issue) than anything else, I can see it hastening the death of those "third places" but also being a symptom of people not knowing "how to behave" in public.

And I fear that that will soon start to spill over into the workplace (if it hasn't already; I am unusual in that most of my colleagues are very quiet people who tend to value positive interpersonal interactions) or in how kids behave in school or at college.

I dunno. I often feel that the world is changing faster than I can understand.

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