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If you got into a time machine and went back to the 1980s, you’d see a number of public service announcements that television stations would run dealing with drug use.
The most famous one, which has been mocked and meme’d to death, was the one where some guy holds up an egg, says “this is your brain,” then points to a very hot cast iron skillet and says that’s drugs. He then cracks the egg into the pan, it sizzles and pops as it instantly becomes a sunny side up egg, and he says “this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
While that one got most of the attention, there was another dealing with marijuana. A Dad has just found some paraphernalia in his son’s room indicating he’d been smoking pot, and he’s confronting him with it. In the course of the conversation, he asks “who taught you to do this?”
The son looks right into his Dad’s eyes and says “you did, Dad,” strongly implying the Dad also smoked pot, and the son learned only from watching his example.
Fast forward to this weekend, when a video went viral involving a young man heckling Cam Newton at a football camp, where Cam was volunteering his time. The youngster kept yelling “you’re a free agent,” at Newton, who just smiled and responded “I’m rich.” The young man kept on, eventually saying “you about to be poor.”
There’s no doubt it was rude, the kid was looking for attention, and if it was my kid, we’d be having what we call in the South a “Come To Jesus” meeting immediately. Athletes, parents and other observers around the country quickly and rightfully denounced the young man’s behavior, and it seems just about everyone called it a failure of the parents.
That may be true, although if you’ve been a parent, you know you can work hard and long on teaching your children the difference between right and wrong, and still have something like that happen. So, until I know more, I’m not dumping all this exclusively on the parents. The kid knew what was going on, he had teammates and coaches around him, and nobody tried to stop him. Plus, someone had a phone capturing it all, as if there was some anticipation of getting this out on social media and making the young man a star.
Today he’s well-known, all right. I don’t know if you’d call that being a star, however.
The incident reminded me of that 80s commercial. Several people are now on social media, bemoaning the behavior, casting blame in many directions, and wondering how this kid could have learned that this was somehow acceptable or cool.
Yet if you’ve spent any time on social media, this happens on all days that end in a “y.” Goes on 24/7. People bash other people just because they can. The more famous, the more vicious. Sometimes it is because they disagree with you, but most times it’s because they just don’t like someone because they’re well known, successful, or different.
Then large numbers of similar-minded people like these senseless insults. I mean, if you’re young and don’t know any better, why wouldn’t you think heckling a well-known person isn’t a cool thing to do?
So, as I earlier mentioned, I’d have my own game plan for dealing with this if he were my kid. But he’s not my kid, and as all these athletes and blue-checks on Twitter rain criticism down on the young man, I can’t help but think of that 1980s drug commercial.
Swap out the Dad for all those social media celebrities. Swap out the son for the young man in the Cam Newton video. Then run the last line again, adjusted for modern times.
“Who taught you to act this way?” demands the social media crowd, filled with self-righteousness and pontification.
“You did, social media,” the young man responds, staring directly into the camera.
I hope my dear departed parents are never blamed for the stupid things I did. They taught me better and I knew better.
where I've seen a young man treating a young woman harshly and thought "man, your Dad did a poor job of teaching you how to be a man," but aside from that, I'm a firm believer that we are all responsible for our own actions, not our parents. Not to mention that back when we were young, the standard for a parent to be considered a good Mom or Dad was that you were still alive at the age of 18. It's a little different now....