Feeling Tremendous Nerditude?

In our virtual worlds, we know more data about each other, but less about how to be with each other than ever before.

 

Younger people are often miles ahead of their elders in their ability to text, email, and use social media.  But relating to people through a screen is not the same as being together in person.  It can be a challenge to learn how to meet and connect with new people face-to-face!

Figuring out who we are within ourselves, and who we are with others, are major tasks of adolescence and young adulthood to begin with. (And even after all these years, I often have to psych myself up before going into a room full of strangers and beginning to get to know some of them!)  So it’s no surprise that any of us can run into high anxiety when it’s time to get together.  Picture a large group of uncomfortable people in a room = we are totally lovely human beings, feeling tremendous nerditude.

So awkward cartoon

Meanwhile, what is our image of a roaring good time?  Movies, videos, and models of social behavior from the rock generation often imply that in order to have a really great time, you need to “lose it” in some way.  What is the “it” that you’re trying to lose?  The awkward separate-ness?  That feeling of nerditude?  Does the desire to let loose combust into “extreme” behavior?  However we identify it, lovely human beings often come into social situations expecting that they need to be loaded in order to have a really good time.  This can affect anyone of any age, but is especially worrisome in younger people.

 

When parents, teachers, administrators, and health personnel see binge-drinking, drug use, and casual “hooking up,” their natural response is to say “Stop it!”

Stop_Sign_clip_art_hight

“Stop drinking!”  “Stop using drugs!”  “Stop having sex!”  This is totally understandable, and sometimes it works, but problems remain.  “Just saying NO”  doesn’t help someone learn what to say “YES” to.

The more intriguing fundamental question is “What makes it FUN?”

 

 

The need for fun and for social connection among people is part of our basic nature as human beings.  It is not going away. We may like our electronic toys and enjoy using technology, but relatively few of us actually prefer to live as nerds (defined primarily by a set of technical abilities combined with a lack of social skills).  We would greatly prefer to be loving, well-loved, socially successful individuals with awesome computer skills!

 

Learning what makes it fun on the most basic human level is the most pro-survival thing we can do.  In order to get through this next phase of human history without destroying our environment, we’re going to need to be able to connect with people who are very different from ourselves.  One of our best moves is to learn how to have healthy fun with as many different kinds of people as possible.  We’re not denying our inner nerditude, we’re claiming our ability to connect with and enjoy a wider and wider circle of people.  All our computer skills will help, all our personal abilities will help,  we can have fun in both new and old ways, and we’ll stand a better chance of solving big problems.

There are a million reasons to be interested in these questions, from the most local to the most global, from the most mundane to the loftiest, from the drunk college kids next door to the international groups we don’t yet know or understand.

 

So let’s keep asking ourselves:  What makes it FUN?

Join this conversation!   Click the Follow button to subscribe to this blog.

What was your favorite sentence from this post?

Did you find yourself strongly agreeing or disagreeing with anything here?  (I’m serious – I’m looking for feedback on this – it’s an excerpt from a much longer piece.  Thanks!)

 

Copyright 2017 Ginny Bales

Advertisements

Fun Has Changed

During our own lifetimes, ways of having fun have shifted.  Any older person can easily attest to this, but even the young ones among us can see differences. IMG_7722

 

At a college dinner a few days ago, a sophomore said, “I think our age group is lacking in social skills” and held up his phone to illustrate one of the reasons why.  The next day I mentioned this at the gym where I teach fitness classes and got a chorus of agreement as my older students reported on their grandchildren’s behavior.

 

So much has changed, and we all see it, but how do we understand it?

 

Fun isn’t what it used to be.

 

When compared with previous generations:

  • Children today have very little unstructured time.
  • Longer school days and shorter recess periods.
  • Structured sports teams rather than sandlot games.
  • More screentime, more online, and less time in person.
  • More social time in groups and less dating.
  • More work demands on everyone.
  • Families are squeezed for time.

 

Nonetheless we can all still have more fun more of the time.

It’s part of our nature as human beings to want this, but some ways of having fun work better than others.

How do we maximize our chances?  By being born into fun-loving families and communities?  We don’t have much choice.  Partying all the time?  That doesn’t actually work well even when people can afford to do it.   Choosing fun-loving friends and finding work that is enjoyable?  Ok, sure.  Nice work if you can get it, as the old song says.  In this economy, just finding a job at all can be pretty darned challenging.

But our own actions and attitudes still make fun more likely or less likely.  Besides noticing the factors that are affecting us and noticing the choices we have, we can also step out a little, embrace our own social leadership, and figure out how to create more fun for ourselves and those around us.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been a bandleader and singer, helping people have fun at parties and celebrations.  For the past seven years, I’ve also been helping people have fun with exercise classes.  I’m going to begin posting ideas from the book I’m writing called  What Makes It FUN?    I invite you to join this conversation and subscribe to this blog.

Let’s make it fun!

 

Do you think that fun in general has changed?  Is it just because we are getting older?  Or are different kinds of fun available now (or less available now)?

Art Students Create Toys for Elephants

Who can resist a project like this?  This story is fun on at least eight levels at once.

The art students are challenged with a real-world problem.   Being challenged can be fun, especially when you are working with others and have some resources and some hope of “success.”

The students are stretching to think about someone else’s reality as a basis for their artistic choices.  How refreshing to see the challenge framed as making something that will be fun for an intelligent but non-human being.

The students use their creativity to come up with concepts for toys and have resources with which to build and test their ideas.  Getting to play with ideas and materials is fun.

They get to meet elephants and see the elephants play with their toys.  Yeah!

The elephants have new experiences with the toys.  We hope these are fun for them and would love to see even more about this.

Videographer Lauren Frohne creates this video and The Boston Globe posts it.  Thanks Lauren.  Thanks Boston Globe.

We all get to see and enjoy it. Thanks MassArt students and faculty.  Thanks elephants!

As with so many projects in the arts, there is a multiplier effect.  Many people (and animals, in this case!) get something out of this.  Win-Win-Win-Win…

Big fun!

Paying Taxes

What’s fun about paying taxes?

I recently spent a surprisingly enjoyable couple of hours meeting with my accountant to file my taxes.  Given the terrible press usually associated with taxpaying and my personal goal of examining everything through the lens of fun, this struck me as too good an experience to ignore!

What made our tax visit fun?  Jokes.  A congenial atmosphere between us.  He was hassled (duh – it’s tax season!), he complained about it loudly and enthusiastically, we both laughed a lot, and that set the tone.   We have done this tax filing process together for the past dozen years and have a pretty good idea of how to proceed.  The sheer reality of cooperation and teamwork was enjoyable.  Little quips here and there kept us in a good balance between work and play modes.

Later on, as I was trying over and over again to understand how the various figures fit together, I argued that this couldn’t be right, since business in general was down and therefore our taxes should also go down – a lot.  I ended up asking what he assures me is the every-day question in the tax preparation business: “how can I owe this much?”

So it wasn’t fun because I am wealthy or didn’t owe anything, or enjoy watching my bank balance drop before my eyes.  It was fun because of a working relationship, our senses of humor, and our unspoken agreement about being able to argue about facts and ideas without being angry at each other.  It was fun because we like each other.  We would never hang out socially, it’s a totally professional relationship, but we like each other and cooperate easily.

On a personal level, it can also be fun to get more of a hold on where our money has gone.  Even if it’s only for a few days a year, we get to notice the big picture of what we are taking in and what we are spending.   On a more meta level, it could be fun to consider how our resources are going to be used when they leave our hands, but it’s hard for most of us to get our minds around the numbers that are often involved in discussions of governmental spending.  As individuals, we feel relatively powerless to affect choices about the national budget.  We each carry a world of strong emotions stemming from our own relationships to money.  Whether we have struggled hard all our lives to make ends meet or have grown up thinking that we deserve more than other people, simply because we have always had more than others around us, we are all trying to punch our way through our early conditioning to a clearer view of reality about this resource called money.

What’s fun about paying taxes?  Finding people you can joke about money and taxes with, having some laughs, and keeping your brains in gear at the same time.  Just holding out the possibility that even paying taxes can be fun can make a difference.   We have to pay them either way, so we may as well enjoy the scenery.

Now come on and comment.  Write some “smart remarks” and give us all a smile!