For those on the coasts and other, hipper locales, the Midwest is
often thought of as a bastion of backward values, fingers-in-the-ears ignorance, and hopeless irrelevance.
But Darryl Campbell defends living in Northern Indiana as not nearly as insane as some urban hipsters may think:
In the Big City, there are so many opportunities to do hip, artsy, “it”
things that you can get your entire existence handed to you by the arts
and leisure pages if you want. In northern Indiana, it takes a lot more
imagination and effort to stave off boredom.
"There's so much to do" is an often-stated reason for living in a bigger city. "Any night of the week, there's always something going on!" Which is great, I guess. But it does beg the question: do you need something "going on" every night of the week? Are you that bored that all experiences must be handed to you pre-packaged and ready-made for consumption?
Neil Postman once commented that a child is never complimented for her ability to watch TV, because it's not really a skill (can't remember if it was in Amusing Ourselves to Death or The Disappearance of Childhood). Staring at images made of light that flicker and fascinate is not difficult. It comes easily to the youngest of children and can be accomplished without the slightest modicum of training or development of skill.
With out own kids my wife and I have limited their access to screens of all sorts for this very reason. No skills are being cultivated when watching Spongebob (funny as the show is). Real creativity is not being developed while playing a video game (although games are probably better than TV shows).
I grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota with 11,000 other people, and out of sheer boredom I:
- learned how to play guitar
- started a band
- wrote several songs
- started several short stories (never finished one)
- organized and advertised shows for my band
- wrote, directed, and edited several very strange movies with my brother (we still find them funny)
- invented all manner of indoor and outdoor games with my siblings (some we play to this day on vacations)
Part of the reason we did these things is because we could only watch one TV show after school (G.I. Joe, if you wondered). After 4pm, I was on my own in the "what to do" department.
Yeah, big cities show us where culture is going, I know. I pay attention to that, but the Midwest has its own gifts to give, if people are prepared to look beyond the stereotypes and see some of the cool stuff that's going on.
Ron Allen says
I grew up in a town of less than a 1000. Most of my toys were homemade. There were 25 kids with in 6 years of each on other on our street. Fun, fun, fun. We built a tree house when I was 11 50 feet up in a tree with three floors and a rope ladder… I like your thoughts, more parents should pay attention.