Friday, 20 December 2013

Call me old fashioned.

Call me old-fashioned if you like, but there is an advert on BB C1 here in the UK at the moment, which appalls me and fills me with despair about the future.

As a retired teacher who concentrated on reading skills and extending vocabulary and widening interest, I sit and look at this advert, which seems to be on three or four times every night at the moment.   It is for BBC I Player and shows a railway carriage full of people of all ages travelling along through the countryside.   On one side of the carriage are people looking bored, dozing, looking miserable, generally fed up.   On the other side are folk who have tablets or whatever they are called on which they can get BBC I Player, so that they can watch their favourite programmes as they ride along,   Of course they are all looking happy and enjoying the journey.

Has no-one ever told them about looking out of the window and watching the scenery go past?   Watching the villages, the towns, the folk working in the fields, the animals, churches - the list is endless.

When our son was small we would play games on long journeys.   One that I remember was spotting a red London bus when we went to London, or spotting the Cathedral when we went to Lincoln (it is on a hill in the middle of flat country and can be seen from miles around). We used to say "Last one to spot the Cathedral is a monkey's uncle!"

Are we going to become a nation of people where no-one raises their head from a screen of some kind, where no-one is at all interested in what goes on around them?   There are so many fun things to do on journeys both in this country and abroad.

Travelling in China a few years ago, of all the images I retain probably the most vivid is of women in a remote village in the middle of nowhere standing round some kind of grinding stone while a donkey walked round and round grinding the corn.   In this country on train journeys I used to look for the churches - had they spires or towers, about how old were they, were they in the middle of the village or were they on the outskirts, perhaps as part of an estate?

Please let's all resist this with all our might.  For the sake of our children and grandchild we must keep them interested in the real world out there, the world they can actually see, not the one which is portrayed in a television programme.

23 comments:

the veg artist said...

I saw this advert for the first time today, and know just what you mean. People seem to have lost the ability to just 'be' inside their own heads any more, with their own thoughts or observations.
I can, though, see the appeal for commuters who do the same long journey daily. Friends of mine did an hour-and-a-half each way for nearly twenty years! For people with a need to keep up with current affairs, watching, for example, Panorama, via iPlayer could even lead to more time spent relaxing at home. I can think of several comedy programmes that I have to sit through because my husband enjoys them - pity he doesn't travel by train much!

Em Parkinson said...

Completely agree Pat. Very depressing. I love my technology, but the joy of looking out of a train window will never be replaced. Happy Christmas by the way and I have packs of exclusively snowy sheep cards just for you! I've been so busy, I haven;t managed to get it together before Christmas though. Sorry. x

jinxxxygirl said...

I agree with you 100%. It really is so sad. We are all going to pay a dear price for those gadgets. Being alone with your own thoughts...day dreaming....Don't even get me started about some of the shows people are actually watching. I see these crazy over the top shows and think well its just one season... no way will enough people watch it that it will stick around...but it DOES! Crazy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! Hugs! deb

Dominic Rivron said...

Would you have objected to a film of people reading books on the train?

I think too much is made of the negative effects of the internet, as if all the things people look at on it are passive and stultifying. At this moment I'm honing my literacy skills typing this. I've recently explored a whole range of classical music which when I was a teenager I could only read about. BBC iPlayer is a godsend and allows me to watch TV programmes I actually want to watch when I want to watch them (usually the arts and science programmes) and filter out the ones I don't (Eastenders, etc.).

Reflecting on young people I know who use the internet a lot, they include:

Someone who has learned at least one Dowland lute piece.

Someone who has written two novels.

Someone who has recently gained a Masters degree in maths (main interest group theory).

Yes, we need time in life to "stand and stare" - but today, with the internet and associated electronic media, we can do it at times of our own choosing - and people still want to, as I see when I climb mountains and meet hordes of young people doing the same thing. The beautiful, wild places of Britain are a lot more available to young people than they once were. As for overseas travel...

Do not despair about the future. 1,000 years ago in this country, if we'd survived the plague, we'd be boiling up weeds right now by rushlight to keep us going until the Spring. The trend is up and, given our creativity and ingenuity as a species, there's not reason to think this will change.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

The ads here in the US are similarly bad - and we must remember - the job is to sell products - they don't care what you see, what you watch, or how much fun you have - they just want to sell sell sell. Our kids, and now our grandsons were taught that ads and commercials were there for one reason - not to entertain, but the get you to buy something that your probably don't really need. I'm proud the older two grandsons - 9 and 12, are discerning watchers.

People often comment on my photos on my blog - and some mention that I live in a particularly beautiful area and that I am lucky to have such wonderful things to photograph. It may not be the area - but the photographer - my eyes are always focused on what we are passing on our car trips (near or far) - no reading or knitting- I pay attention to what I see and seek to develop it into something to photograph.

When we are with our grandsons we question them and encourage them to discover something outside the car - or around them in the yard or the country - observation is worth so much - and I'm sure it makes them better at the video games that they have - but are not constantly looking at. Well rounded - that's the ticket.

MorningAJ said...

What really worries me are the people who don't see a long journey as an opportunity to read! I used to travel to and from work by bus (till they changed my work hours!) and went through a novel a week or thereabouts. I never needed to watch TV to pass the time.

Tom Stephenson said...

Don't worry about adverts, Weave. This one sounds like it would be more accurate for young, not old people.

Even when I was young, I loved staring out of windows for hours on end, and I still love staring at walls and people too.

A friend of mine currently earns £8 an hour for holding a billboard in the High Street here, and I have to say that I really envy him. Nice life, I think.

Tom Stephenson said...

Re your son's comment, has he forgotten that poem about Adlestrop? Not much happens there either - in one way - but the legacy lives on in that bit of daydreaming.

Heather said...

I don't think I have seen this advert but agree with you about these new gadgets. Useful to some they may be but communicating with each other and engaging with our surroundings is far more important. I suppose it might be unwise to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger but I would take a book on a long train journey, but being curious I'd still look out of the window and enjoy the view.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Beautiful sunset as I rode home on the train the other evening. In a crowded carriage only myself and one other person apparently aware of it.

Virginia said...

You are so right. But what worries me even more is the very young children whose brain development must be being affected my he hours staring at screens when they should be looking and playing and asking "Why?" "Why?" "Why?" until they drive their family nuts, because that's how they learn.

Frances said...

Without my laptop's internet connection, I would not be able to have ever read your marvelous, thoughtful posts.

Over here in NYC, I make a daily subway train commute to work, and do notice how many folks have their eyes on tablets and smart phones. I usually have a book or magazine handy, but sometimes...my artist's eye just soaks up the views of fellow travelers, and I wonder when they are "un-connected."

It's quite amusing sometimes to chat about this topic with younger work colleagues and friends. I guess that generations can learn from each other, and each has much to give to the other.

Happy Christmas!

angryparsnip said...

We have a commercial over here where a teen is always playing with the phone, sitting off from the family not joining in and then at the end of of all this family fun that he hasn't participated in he hooks up the phone to the TV and we see that he made a movie of the day and then everyone is happy.
But he I wonder if the family would have rater love to have him join in the day instead of secretly filming it. He is in none of the film had none of the fun and worried his family. That is sad.

cheers, parsnip

Carol In Cairns said...

I love looking out windows on a long train ride ~ except at night. Commuting is another thing though and I use the time to catch up on my blog reading etc. my commute is not long enough for catch up TV. But catch up TV here in Australia is more popular than sitting in front of the box.

Cro Magnon said...

Totally agree with you. Unfortunately I do the same whilst driving. I can't keep myself from looking at everything (and commenting) as I drive along. Occasionally it becomes dangerous.

mumasu said...

You must have read my mind Pat, yesterday afternoon I was giving loud and large to anyone who'd listen about this ad.

Whilst we're on the subject have you seen the "Wowcher" ad on the other side. Grr, I hate it. I really cannot stand nastyness dressed up as humour. It isnt funny and just sums up what is happening to respect. )

Bovey Belle said...

Some very interesting comments on here. I can just add my 5 eggs by saying when I travelled up to Sheffield and back on the coach last year, on each journey people were just falling asleep or playing with their mobiles. I think I was the ONLY person looking out of the window at the landscape.

I always feel I miss so much when I am the designated driver and we go out for the day and most annoyingly, 50 mph is too fast for taking landscape photos which aren't a BLUR! The best photos are always those which present themselves when there is nowhere safe to stop . . .

When our children were little we used to have looooooooong journeys up to Manchester granny, or my b-in-law's the other side of Colchester in Essex, and we would always point things of interest out to the children. Going up to granny's, it was always "Magpie Houses" - the lovely black and white cottages along the upper Welsh Marches. Or we would spot red - or green - or yellow cars, or on the motorway, the Most Unusual vehicle - like a boat or a small crane or something being towed. Anything to keep the children interested, with small chocolate bars saved for the last hour/when it got dark!

Adverts drive me mad, I have to say, and I pay so little attention I could never tell you what they are selling. Not since the days of Esso Blue could I do that . . .

Robin Mac said...

I love watching out the window when we go on a long drive, but I also love my new tablet which is what I am writing on now. I think there is a place for technology, but I do think the young ones need to get out in the open air a lot more. I rarely watch commercial television so I rarely see all the annoying ads.

Elizabeth Wix said...

Totally agree with you and am so glad I grew up in the days we invented things.
However, left to their own devices children love inventing things and games.
Just HIDE the damn tablets!

MERRY CHISTMAS

Gwil W said...

I travel a lot by train. I must admit I am happy when everyone is reading their ipad or tablet or sending emails for it means the carriage is comfortably quiet with just the odd chatter of conversation which is what I like, so that I can either talk, read, or look at the scenery as I please. But god save me from the mobile phone addicts. One day I'll thump somebody. They are driving me nuts!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for replying to my rant. It is really good to read all your comments. My son, in addition to ticking me off in his comment here, also rang me up to argue further!
He does have a point - I concede that. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I totally agree with you, one of the great pleasures of travel for me is to look out of the window and see the world go by, I've done some seriously good birdwatching from train windows.

mumasu said...

Ha ha, My son tells me off electronically and then rings me up for further ranting too!