(Pre-Reading Tip: Look for the irony in this post.)
I have been a bit laggy posting lately. It’s because of my new toy, my Nook Color e-reader. I might post a full review one of these days, but suffice it to say that this thing rocks. In a couple of weeks when BandN sends out a software upgrade, it will become basically a full-fledged tablet. Right now I can already surf the the web with wifi, read my books while rocking to mp3’s or Pandora, and edit MS Word files. Lately I’ve been reading Keith Richards’s autobiography, Life. It’s been a great read, and I learned some beauty tips for playing the guitar. Underneath all the junkie stuff Keef, as his aunt called him, is really a pretty good, big-hearted guy, who REALLY loves music. All he really wants to do is play his guitar every day… all day…sometimes for 8 days straight without sleeping. (Also: The blood-changing story is fake, the Stones album Voodoo Lounge is named after a cat Keith rescued in Jamaica, Mick Jagger is a jerk, and I helped make some special 5-string guitars for Keef back when I worked at the Ernie Ball factory.)
Did you ever notice (now I’m channeling Seinfeld) how much middle schoolers love to “share”? But it’s the selfish kind of sharing.
Back in my early college days, I gave a speech for the required speech class that argued there was no such thing as altruism; everybody did everything out of self interest. Sort of an Ayn Rand stylie. Even when you help other people, you really do it because their gratitude or whatever makes you feel good. That’s your real motivation. That’s why we get so angry when someone doesn’t acknowledge a kindness. I gave the speech just to be a shmartypants (plus I used it as an essay for my non-fiction writing class that same quarter), and several people in the class got all indignant. (“What about organ donors? Huh? Huh?” It makes you feel good about yourself doesn’t it? There you have it. I think I was also taking a philosophy class at the time.)
Seventh graders prove my point every day. By “sharing” what they mean is telling about themselves. They don’t really want to hear about you (unless you got hurt or maimed in a funny way), they just want to tell you about themselves.
Of course, it’s never anything important.
I was telling the kids that my gramma turned 100 on New Year’s Day, and we were setting up a Skype thing so we could all see her in Texas without actually having to GO to Texas.
“My birthday was two days before that.”
Not, “Wow, that’s cool,” or “How is she?” or “Did you talk to her?” No. Your TWELFTH birthday is as important as her ONE HUNDREDTH!
“My grandma gave me fifty dollars for Christmas.”
“We visited my gramma in Las Vegas.”
“My gramma always makes us eat her gross mince meat pie for Christmas dinner.”
And on and on and on.
“When did I ask you about your gramma?”
“Well, you were talking about your gramma, and I have a gramma too, so I thought of–”
“I’ve used Skype to talk to my gramma too.”
It’s all about me. Every question an opportunity to “share.” EVERY question.
“Raise your hand if you got 10/10 on the pretest, because you guys are exempt from that part of the test on Friday.”
“I missed one.”
“I missed three.”
“Wait. When did I ask you to tell me what you got? I can check what you got; you clicked it in. I simply asked how many people got them all correct.”
“I got almost all of them correct.”
“I still didn’t ask.”
“Whose paper is this with no name? My servants must be getting soft because they usually just throw anonymous papers in the trash. Who didn’t get one back?”
“It’s not mine. I always put my name on my paper.”
“I know. I just handed yours back.”
“I’m just sayin’. I’m a good student; I always put my name on my paper. Mr. White said I was a good student.”
“I don’t remember asking about that.”
“I was just sayin’.”
“Thank you for sharing, but next time, don’t.”