CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A Generation of Zombie Children

Apr 15, 2015

Much can be said – and has been said – about modern culture, pop culture, and the way in which we are raising the next generation. Modern Western education is really not doing much for our kids, and the rise of all things geared to catering to young people – from MTV to the high tech revolution – is simply making things worse sadly.

Having discussed this often elsewhere, I don’t intend to explore this at length. Indeed, this may be one of my shortest articles on record. This piece is merely an excuse to post a worrying pic I saw on the social media. When I first saw it posted a few days ago my spirit groaned a bit and my heart sank somewhat.

When I saw it posted again today, I shared it myself and wrote a brief comment about it. So just what is it that has got me writing yet another article? In a way it is simply representative of where our culture is at today, and where so many children in the West are at.

rembrandt 1I refer to the pic on the right: a bunch of bored kids completely ignoring one of the greatest paintings in the world by one of the greatest artists in the world in one of the world’s greatest art galleries. And I speak to this because I have been to this place often, and seen this magnificent work of art on a number of occasions.

This is of course Rembrandt’s famous painting, “The Night Watch” which is housed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This huge painting (12 by 14 feet) was painted in 1642, and originally titled, “The Company of captain Frans Banning Cocq and lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch preparing to march out.”

Thankfully the much abbreviated title has stuck, and that is how we know it today. When I lived in Holland from 1979 to 1984, I often went there and stood in awe of such majestic works of art. And having just been back to Europe a year ago, and having seen this piece once again, the contrast between what I recall seeing and what these kids seem to be seeing is most glaring.

Indeed, I must say this is a telling pic in so many ways. The dumbing down of our kids, the cultural illiteracy, the trivialisation of life, the obsession with self, the fixation on technological gadgetry, and so on. Just what have we done to our children? It seems we have raised a generation of zombies who are utterly fixated on all their small handheld devices. That is the only world they seem to know about – or care about.

I just showed this pic to my wife and she tried to give the kids the benefit of the doubt: ‘Maybe they are using the free Wi-Fi there to learn more about the painting’. Well yes that is possible, and yes that is a charitable take on all this. But why do I suspect otherwise?

Why do I suspect that they are in fact texting their friends, chatting about the latest goss, and saying they can’t wait to get out of there and meet their buddies at McDonald’s? Well, perhaps my wife is right. I hope so. But I remember every time I was there, fighting the crowds to get a close look at the painting. I never saw it completely vacant of art lovers, with everyone glued to their mobile phones.

OK, maybe I am just sore. When we were there last year we had to wait in a long line outside in the cold driving rain before we finally made it in. I thought they should have done something about adding a bit of protection for all the folks dying to get into the place!

But as I say, this will be a brief article. This pic did disturb me. And perhaps I am overreacting. Or perhaps this is yet another indication of the decline and fall of Western civilisation. You be the judge.

[666 words]

22 Responses to A Generation of Zombie Children

  • Bill, I used to work in downtown Toledo, OH. Though I had a car, it was much less expensive to take the bus, so that’s what I opted for. It was the mid to late 1970’s. You ran into the same crowd everyday, so chatting in person was the normal order of the day. A few shy folk or established bookworms tucked into their latest novel once the pleasant hellos had been made. It was a wonderful and relaxing time which helped us settle down for the daily grind of business in the corporate world.

    Wind ahead to 2015, aboard the MTA in Nashville, TN, and all you see are riders gawking at their mobiles. They’re either yakking about things so private my parents would have passed out from shock or playing Bejeweled or Candy Crush. God forbid that anyone should talk to each other!

    The whole thing creeps me out big time. Are these youngsters able to speak to each other face-to-face? What on Earth do they perceive reality to be? Are those around them real people or 2 dimensional images, like on TV? Do they grasp that the artwork of man originated with a Creator God Who is personal…that creativity comes from God? Do they understand that guys like Picasso and Dali were nihilists whose work reflected their contempt for the living God? I don’t think they understand any of that, much less, that man was created in the image and likeness of God…and what exactly that means.

    What do we do, Bill? All I can think of is continually putting the Truth out there. That’s what you do everyday. For now, that’s where I stand. I’ll continue to do so, and your articles which are well researched are a major help in that department. Thank you.

  • Many thanks indeed Vicki. Yes it is a real worry, and hard to know how it can easily and quickly be turned around. The cultural Marxists are happy about the rotting out of our culture, and they have much to answer for. We all need to pray harder and work harder.

  • This photo is sadly so true; although my son doesnt use a mobile phone, doesn’t use Facebook or any social media and just doesn’t follow the fads, full stop. By nature he is a techie and highly computer literate, but that’s the line of work he eventually wants to do (if he can ever find a job in this God-forsaken UK economy).
    A curious fact that one of the major mental illnesses afflicting youngsters today is schizophrenia. Very prevalent between the ages of 15 and 30. One of its symptoms is the inability to separate illusion from reality. My son has it. I wish God had spared him, but sadly not happening (although obviously we pray for his healing). Is it an illness of our age? I do wonder.

  • At interval today at the Cirque du Nui, adults were reading their phones. A younger girl and her mother were playing a game on the computer. It isn’t just children who are zombies.

  • I always joked a totalitarian government could take over the world, and these kids would be unaware and wouldn’t care as they are hypnotized by their phones.

  • Last year as I walked through a busy airport hall with a colleague on the way to the departure lounge, I looked at all the bodies around me, (adults and children alike) seated on the seats, floor, benches all the way down to the lounge – every single one had their noses pointed downwards at an electronic gadget of some kind. My colleague joked at the time that we could have walked the whole length of the departure hall stark naked and no one would have noticed. Honestly…

  • Steve Jobs (Apple) was a very rich man.
    Mark Zuckerberg’s (Facebook) money came much easier.
    Extra rewards for helping the prince of this world set up his agenda, perhaps?
    Smart phones seem to overwhelm a significant proportion of the population, like drugs to a drug addict.

  • Zombies need brains. I don’t see any brains, so zombie is dead.

  • This huge painting (12 by 14 feet)

    Yes, indeed.

    For an Australian example, how many people have seen the original Tom Roberts painting “Shearing The Rams”?

    It is viewable in the Geelong Regional Gallery (there you go, Bill – another Cats triumph!) on a wall – 30 feet wide by 12 or so feet high.

    It is amazing in detail – MarJo and I spent a half hour being unsociable at an event there many years ago because there was so much to see in the painting. Even the frame is massive – it looks like 12″ wide planks trimmed out of a tree.

  • Slightly off topic but on the other hand, one could say it’s a chance for people to demonstrate they are not indifferent. For Americans primarily, help these guys out:
    www.marriagemarch.org/donate/?ref=EA150415EAAR&link=donatebuttonbottom
    www.gofundme.com/marriagebuses

  • Many years ago, after the job I had in downtown Toledo, I resigned and stayed home to help the ex run his business. Prior to that, I always had face-to-face contact with real live people. My job with him was to interact with potential customers over the phone. I was amazed years down the road when I realized that I had lost the ability to communicate with other people when we were actually in each other’s presence. Sadly, that is nothing compared to how devastating social media has affected us in dealing with real people with real problems. I often wonder if this anonymity causes us to no longer see others as real…and is my participation in FB, etc., a part of the problem? Certainly the internet enables us to spread the Gospel further than one-on-one, in-person presentations, but does that make it a good thing? I suppose we all wrestle with the pros and cons of participating in social media.

    One thing I do know, and no brownnosing meant here, Bill…your articles are very well-researched and loaded with solid, Biblical info. Only those who really don’t wish to learn the Truth can be put off by them and unwilling to let the Holy Spirit speak to them through what you’ve painstakingly presented. So, I see merit in what you are doing and believe you can reach some of those young ones who are busy on their mobiles. Okay, that’s enough of making you blush for one night, so I’ll sign off. But I truly appreciate your work. (y)

  • Well, who bought those children the phones to begin with? I am sure none of them have jobs that can pay $600 plus dollars for said devices not to mention the cost of the plans.

    Lets start with who buys this rubbish.

    These devices are nice tools, if used correctly, not live your life on them.

  • I see plenty of adults on their phones too, whether it’s on public transport, walking around or in cafes and restaurants. I think it’s people who want to stay connected and are tech-savvy who will take advantage of the technology.

    I’ve actually seen people reading religious texts on their phones on the way to and from work and I guess that’s a good use of your time in addition to anything else people use their devices for.

  • Thanks Toby. Of course i did not say in the article that only young people are overly beholden to small hand held devices, nor did I claim that they serve absolutely no useful purposes!

  • Well, my granny used to be afraid of a hoover, my parents did not know how to install VCR, I am sometimes a complete failure if I want to fix something in my portable computer then I ask my 16 year-old-son. In the past my day used to say “unless you do your homework you won`t go out to play with your school mates. Nowadays I do my best to get my three children outside. I and my wife rack our brains how to drag them somehow. I beg them to go to a pool, cycle, have a stroll. They seem to be mesmerized by all that electronic gadgetry. It is a real challenge for all Christian families in my country. At school during breaks students instead of chatting, playing football or just chasing each other they regularly form groups of three or four whose eyes are glued to smart phones. Afterwards when a lesson starts they seem to have been more tired then before. It is a nightmare for many teachers and school staff. I pray intensely so that my children discover Jesus and fall in love with Him. Only God can split this attachment to electronic devices. Whenever they feel boredom they resort to them on the spot. Jesus wants me to trust in Him. He is the master of the Earth. I know joyful trust in God can make miracles!

  • Thanks for your comments Paul.

  • Mansel,
    Thanks for that link.
    That’s brilliant!

  • As someone who works in IT, I both love it and hate it.
    Too much screen time is particularly bad for growing children, and also for inactive adults. Technology will keep evolving, and we will have to keep adapting.

  • You took the words right out of my mouth! The times I have thought the very same thing, almost on a daily basis. It’s as if these children have no “soul”, they ARE like zombies ,or pre-programmed robots, devoid of feeling, somehow. I look at some of these young men today and wonder, just HOW will they WOO their girlfriends/wife? By txt, tweet or email……”wanna get married, or what?”!

  • I have seen that pic before and was told it is a group of school kids doing a tour via a mobile phone app. I can’t back it up though it was too long ago.

  • Thanks Kylie. Yes that is possible, as mentioned in my article.

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