I know this write up might cause some consternation among some of our readers who grew up with the Internet and other advances in technology. To them, I ‘m probably gonna sound some old coot who can’t come to terms with the future and pines for the good old days.
Maybe to an extent, that’s true.
All I can say is that I have very fond memories of my earlier years. The first thing we did when school let out was to race home, get changed, get out of the house as fast we could and head off to the local park. I guess my generation just took it for granted that there was nothing like the great outdoors to keep us entertained.
So let us begin…
As many of you know, I live here in the heartland and my drive home from work doesn’t entail highways or byways. Because I take the side streets, there’s usually no gridlock or traffic jams to impede my progress in time to make it to happy hour.
Along my route, at a casual 35 miles per hour, I’m afforded the luxury of taking in the scenery and what I see disturbs me. There must be at least seven or eight pristine parks along the way. Their grasses are neatly mowed and there’s nary a speck of garbage or other type of litter on the ground. There is no evidence of gang activity or turf wars since the buildings are graffiti free. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping but the parks themselves are abandoned.
For the most part, swing sets sit there motionless, the only swaying is caused by the faint breeze that blows every now and then. The seesaws haven’t see’d or saw’d in ages. There are no monkeys climbing on the monkey bars.
Baseball diamonds are silent. There is no crack of the bat or the sound of cheers as kids try to stretch a single into a double or slide into home to score that game winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The basketball courts are abandoned, there’s no thump of the ball on the ground or drives to the hoop. The only life I see on the football or soccer field is the occasional squirrel merrily hopping and bopping along on its way to its favorite tree.
There’s nobody casting a line into the fishing ponds and pulling up the catfish that were stocked earlier in the year nor is there anybody hiking the various trails that wind their way through the park.
It makes me wonder, where have all the children gone?
It sure isn’t the local libraries because on my occasional stop there to either borrow or return an item, the only people I see are my age or older.
It sure isn’t the schoolyards that I pass on my way home because those are as desolate as the parks that I see.
If I had to hazard a guess I’d have to say that they are cloistered in their room at home texting their friends with too much information that in the days to come will be meaningless. It’s either that or playing some kind of video game where they compete against some kind of imaginary force. I don’t know if “compete” is the right word either. How does one call it competition when the easiest way to avoid losing is to just reset the game and play it over? Do they claim bragging rights against their imaginary foes the way I did when we played against living breathing human beings? In this day of instant communication it seems that updates to Facebook pages and the like take precedence over fresh air and exercise. Can one really bond with someone over the web in the same way that one does in what I like to call real life?
I hope I’m partially mistaken. Since I don’t drive past the various venues that I’ve mentioned on weekends I hope that’s when they come to life.
I think parks are in a way just like us humans.
They need to hear the actual sound of laughter instead of the infamous LOL on text messages and E-mail every now and then in order to survive.
"Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent"
Other users here at E2 have pointed out (correctly so) that I might have jumped the gun when it came to blaming technology as the sole reason behind the abandonment of my local parks. Other issues such as child kidnapping/molestation and other forms of abuse are widely reported in news stories when they occur and could also be a contributing factor as parents fear for the safety of their child. As locke baron also pointed out, once that starts happening it's hard to stop the ball from rolling downhill. Nobody wants to play in a park by themselves.
mcd says re There's something inherently sad about a park with no kids in it - Sadder yet is a kid-less park with only junkies and vagrants, sigh...
To me, both of those scenarios would be even a sadder sight than the ones I described earlier.
Thanks to everybody for their comments.