I have a confession to make. When I was a kid (and used to naturally wake up early) I would sneak downstairs on Sunday morning and turn on cartoons with the volume so low that I had to be inches away from the screen in order to hear what was going on. This was all in the hopes that my parents would sleep through church and I could stay in my PJs until lunch. Did anyone else do this?
That has nothing to do with what I wanted to talk about in my blog but it came to mind and made me chuckle so I thought I’d share.
However, my blog does involve cartoons (so there’s the link). I’m not talking about the cartoons that are on TV now- though I do love a good Spongebob marathon- but the cartoons that were on when I was a kid. I’m talking about Looney Toons, Tom & Jerry, Roadrunner and Coyote– the classics. The main difference between those cartoons and the cartoons you’ll find today is that the old ones showed things that would never fly now-a-days. There was violence, hunting, cats eating mice, smoking and the occasional drunk Tom Cat hiccuping and stumbling around after falling into a barrel of booze (clearly labeled X-X-X). It was all in good fun but they eventually got pushed off of the air because kids are impressionable and the fear is that we would start to emulate what we saw on the screen whilst quietly avoiding church.
You may expect my stance on this issue to be something along the lines of, “That stuff won’t effect what kids think. Surely they can draw the line between fact and fantasy!” I can’t honestly say that though. As a kid who tried to parachute off the jungle gym with only the aid of a plastic grocery bag I clearly lacked a grasp on that line. In the cartoons the characters would go underwater using a regular drinking straw as a snorkel. Guess what? I had a pool growing up and that crap did not work! Turns out that a ten-year-old’s lungs need more oxygen than even the thickest Wendy’s straw can provide. Ever put a bike pump in your mouth? I did. And as you may have guessed not only did it not inflate me but it left a terrible aftertaste. I’m just lucky no one ever pointed a gun at me as a child because I probably would have stuck my finger in the barrel, taken another bite of a readily available carrot and said, “What’s up doc?” knowing that once the perp pulled the trigger the gun would surely backfire in his face.
All this to say that YES people are impressionable. In addition it seems the younger people are the more they absorb. The other night Brittany and I went to dinner with my brother and his toddler, Talan. Before giving Talan my lemon (which that weird little kid loves to eat) I used my straw to dig out the seeds. When I handed it over the first thing he did was pick up a straw and start to mimic me.
We all look up to other people whether it be a parent, an older brother, a friend maybe a professional athlete or, heck I’ll say it, a musician. And like it or not- there’s always someone looking up to you, following your example picking up a straw for no other reason than just because it’s what you did. So often you won’t even know you’re having an effect on a person. It’s kind of a scary position to be in! Especially no-a-days with all of your followers on Twitter and Facebook—everyone has access to what you’re doing and saying even when you’re not face to face.
I want to challenge you all to keep that in mind this next week. What kind of role model do you want to be? You don’t have to be a Superbowl winning quarterback or a crazy cartoon rabbit to have a huge effect on someone else but it’s ultimately up to you whether you’re going to make it a positive one or a negative one.
Just some food for thought.