What to do, how to live – tips from world of cinema

I substitute teach middle school and high school students.

Thank you for your sympathy.

But it’s worse than you think. And it’s worse than that, too.

When it comes to the cinema, the bullying of students and substitute/fresh teachers is not anything new.

Students bullied: “Bully,” “Detachment,” “Three O’clock High,” “Rocky V.”

Teachers bullied: “Dangerous Minds,” “School of Rock,” “Kindergarten Cop,” “Fist Fight” (discussed in a previous article).

And the list goes on for faculty members: “Dead Poets Society,” “Freedom Writers,” “Lean on Me,” “Stand and Deliver,” “The Principal,” “School of Rock,” “Renaissance Man,” “The Substitute,” “The Substitute 2,” “The Substitute 3,” “The Substitute 4” …

What is new to school and hardly told on the movie screen is something that doesn’t just ask for your sympathy and your condolences but warrants empathetic distress and terror from everyone outside the school system. This isn’t an attempt to promote mob mentality nor an appeal to fear. This is very real. Very scary.

What should we fear?

Earbuds and their accompanying devices.

The music, the internet, the social networks, the apps, the pics, the games, the chatting, the calls, the occasional speaker phone conversation, the hazing, the pulling-out-an-earbud “Huh?” and the know-it-all-replacing-earbud nod.

There is currently a problem with normal socializing.

What is normal?

Well, I can give some examples of what’s not.

In “Barbarella,” 41st century couples have sex by holding hands and closing their eyes. When the old way is rediscovered, Jane Fonda is … more alive. (A similar scene takes place in “Demolition Man” with virtual reality headgear – the year, 2032.)

“WALL-E,” Pixar’s animated feature, draws a possible future (over seven hundred years from now) where we’ve become fat and zoom around in chairs equipped with screens. These people chat via monitor, slurp food shakes and don’t physically interact with those traveling along the same tracks.

For a more contemporary analysis of our living style, see “Cast Away.”

Tom Hanks is stranded and gains time to reevaluate his life in the FedEx lane.

If this film were made today, and even more up-to-date, the moral would be wrapped around Hanks turning off Spotify and pulling out his earbuds only to be surprised by the sound of the ocean (in addition to the startling coconuts dropping in the night).

The point is these gadget-extensions of ourselves can become abused and, therefore, seem necessary.

The automobile is the perfect example.

Do we need to get a car or can we get a job and education within a five-mile walk?

Not usually.

Fast food, morning coffee and television?

It’s difficult to set these apart from necessities like polio vaccines and bifocals.

What else is disrupting communication?

A newer, wider generation gap.

Louis C. K. writes himself into a scene in “Louie” where his scripted words speak through the younger generation – an independent shopkeeper/owner defining him as someone who is scared that the world is changing and is going to go on changing without him (similarly lyricized by Bob Dylan some time ago).

In a recent “Girls” episode, Hannah responds to an allegation that the internet will be the eventual demise of the human race as something a person of an older generation would say (which is said by a wise, yet perverted, older-generation member).

A “Mad Men” conversation articulates something similar: older generations are always disgruntled by younger generations.

However, one cannot deny (nor self-deny) the obvious: We are “plugged in,” as they say in “Social Network.”

But are we plugged in more than we used to be? Is this more like “The Matrix”?

Well, considering that handheld devises of this magnitude did not exist twenty years ago, nor were they in as many hands as they are today, we have to answer “yes.”

I recently spoke with a teacher of a district other than my own.

Before voicing my thoughts on the matter of excessive cellphone/internet/music-playing use, he went into a rant about the kids and their recent form of escapism.

And that’s what it is. A constant escapism. A no-reality situation.

Bullying and a lack of respectful discourse may stem from the new type of socializing done through texting, Instagramming, Tweeting, Snapchatting, emailing, etc.

Is Skyping/FaceTiming better?

Nah, because we’re only a few steps away from creating digital versions of ourselves, and then we won’t trust the face we’re speaking to.

In the film “Greenberg,” Ben Stiller’s character gets angry with the younger generation because they are so overly confident. In “While We’re Young,” a different Stiller character attempts to embrace the young’s confidence. (Note: both films are directed by the unique, honest Noah Baumbach.)

The gap is inevitable (until DeLoreans fly).

What do we – the old, the young – do?

Ride a bike (without earbuds), take your dog for a walk (without earbuds), take a road trip (without earbuds), meet someone for a muffin (without earbuds or a visible device), visit your parents (without earbuds or a visible device), visit your grandparents (without earbuds or a visible device or visible boredom), play catch, play cards, spar, have a picnic, rearrange your room, make a scrapbook, draw, color, gather sticks for a fire, learn how to drums on a bucket (with two of those sticks you gathered).

Yeah, do all of that without earbuds or a phone. Go jogging … (with earbuds, it helps with stamina).

Did I have to remind you of the no-earbud rule after every suggestion?

Take a look around campus, and see if there needs to be some reminding and modeling for middle or high schoolers (even if they’re not on campus). Be an example.

Or, if taking away a non-necessity seems like too much work, put your earbuds in and rent the Netflix documentary “Audrie & Daisy” or HBO’s documentary “Beware the Slenderman.” Or try the films “A Girl Like Her,” “Trust” or “Disconnect.”

Most important, pull your head out of your… I mean, pull your buds out of your ears.