Thursday, August 5, 2010

Note to Self: Advice for My Kids about Media

I continue to be amazed at how quickly my kids adapt to pretty much every medium, every gadget, they are used to being able to pluck information out of the air... none of this is news to them. It just is.

It occurred to me today that there is, however, a very important piece of media-related advice that I need to repeat to them early, and often. I think it's way more critical now than it was even when I was a kid during the TV-friendly 70's.

That is: Don't mistake attention for importance.

They may have no trouble understanding how to access media, but they can get very confused figuring out what to make of it.

For example, if Rush Limbaugh is such a hate-filled racist person, why does he make so much money? Does this make any sense? His ideas are not inherently healthy, or useful, to anyone. So why? Why does he get to do what he does?

Because he attracts attention.

One thing that hasn't changed since the 70's: Attention equals money. This is because of advertising. Attention brings awareness which brings brand recognition which brings gobs and gobs of money if you do it in a big way.

So, I've got to help my kids separate attention from importance or value.

This, I think, is actually going to be a struggle for them. Until they understand exactly how money is made in media.

At which point, they will know that nobody gets media attention by being inherently valuable, they do it by getting media attention. By upsetting people, or being provocative, or naked.

As a person who makes media all the time, I hope to pull it all apart for them, show them how it is all created, show them how to create their own.

Then they can spend their time consuming media - books, music, shows - that are meaningful to them and that they admire, and not because they attract a lot of attention. If I do things right, something that attracts too much attention will be somewhat suspect right away.

Except of course for the World Cup.

The Zen of Water Painting

My son was putting water on the walkway and using a croquet mallet to spread it around.

This gave me an idea.

So I went and got a couple of old paintbrushes, and a watering can.

Now we could paint on the ground.

Didn't look like much, since the paintings kept disappearing, but very satisfying...

Then, my daughter started drawing on the wet concrete with chalk. Which made the colors really nice.

This turned into an afternoon of painting, adding chalk, painting, adding chalk...

We did some yard work, too, in which tools were moved around by people who were smaller than they were... which brings me to:

Is this possibly the worst place you've ever seen anyone leave a shovel?

Okay so maybe some pointers on safety are needed.

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