Monday, January 14, 2013

Something on a TV Program That Made Me Gag

Tonight, out of boredom, I ended up watching  a TV program, My Life Is a Lifetime Movie.  The featured subject in this particular episode  was a girl from Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, who found herself   both pregnant and at the center of a sexting controversy.  My opinions concerning both her pregnancy and her role in the sexting situation are mixed and probably not a lot different than anyone else's thoughts on the matters, so I won't even discuss them. Instead, I'll take a particular quote out of context.

The quote I'll address is this, "There's nothing  else to do in Tunkhannock, so young people have sex."   We've all heard this quote many times, with many different towns inserted in place of Tunkhannock, and occasionally with other activities mentioned in place of have sex, the most common probably being either drink or do drugs.  The other places I've heard cited as places where there's nothing for young people to do are as numerous, diverse and far-flung as Minneapolis, Minnesota, Temecula, California, Salem, Oregon, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Palmetto, Florida, Antioch, California, Sandpoint, Idaho, and Faribault, Minnesota. I'm sure I could think of more communities about which the same thing has been said if I thought for very long.

Perhaps I'm incorrect in saying this and I have no source to back up what I'm going to say next, but I'll say it anyway. My suspicion is that young people have been saying, "There's nothing to do in this town"  since before the time of Christ. What is different now is that not just the kids are saying it. The parents, too, are saying it to excuse their children's drug-using, boozing, or sexual activity. (Does boozing really need an excuse, anyway, unless one's draconian religion forbids it? Don't drink yourself into a coma,  don't drink while pregnant, and don't get behind the wheel of an auto, aircraft, boat, or whatever after drinking, but otherwise, who really gives a flying squirrel's ass?) If the parents really think the environment in which their children are being brought up is so deprived, perhaps they should either relocate or join together to create a few worthwhile activities, or, at the very least, rent a piano and secure lessons, teach the kid to sew, or at the very, very  least, tell the kid to go pull weeds or clean mold from the bathroom shower stalls. Anything would be preferable to using "There's nothing to do in this town" as an excuse for involvement with, booze, sex, drugs, or worse.

I was curious about Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania (know anything about it, Becca?), so I did about five minutes' worth of research. At Tunkhannock High school a partial list of interscholastic sports includes boys' football, boys' golf,  girls' field hockey, boys' and girls' cross country, boys' and girls' basketball, boys' and girls' tennis, girls' volleyball, boys' baseball, girls' softball, and boys' and girls' track and field. There's nothing to do in Tunkhannock. By way of clubs, there's a Future Business Leaders of America Club, a Key Club (which is a sort of junior Kiwanis service club), an Honor Society club and some sort of a robotics club. I will concede that the club offerings are a bit slim, but it's a small high school.  Marching and symphonic band appear to be offered, as is string ensemble, jazz ensemble,  and various vocal ensembles. The school student body produces a yearbook and a school newspaper. Academic offerings range from AP calculus to zoology to physics to vocational training to honors English to Latin.  Unless this high school is a paper/Internet mirage, the majority of which does not exist in real life, the faculty and administration are not doing a bad job of offering a quality program considering the size of the student body, which is just over one thousand. Furthermore, nothing appears to be stopping the youth of Tunkhannock from reading a book, or, for that matter, from writing  a book,  or painting a picture, creating a sculpture, or composing a symphony.

The community itself is small and a bit sparse, with a theatre and a Walmart but  no  malls, but how much really high-quality promotion of teen education improvement, social improvement, or morality enhancement has been known to occur at malls, anyway?

I didn't research churches, Boy and Girl scouting programs, 4-H, youth club sports, or anything of that nature, but with the town being within thirty-five minute of either Scranton (and anyone who's ever seen a single episode of The Office knows just what a hopping place Scranton is) or Wilkes-Barre, the youth cannot be all that deprived in those departments, either.

Youth of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, take whatever pictures of yourself you want, and send them to others on  cell phones at your own risk. (Incidentally, I'm not criticizing those who took on the District Attorney for having taken what seems to have been a rather draconian stance on sexting.) Have sex at your own risk, though protection is advised. Do these things and more if you must, but you cannot claim with any credibility that you do so because there is nothing else to do in your area. The claim has already been made, and it rang no more true when made by those who claimed it before you than it does when you make the claim.

Adults of Tunkhannock, if the youth of your town make the claim that they are bored and must involve themselves with sex, booze, or drugs (I didn't include rock and roll because rock and roll is good, and your young people should involve themselves with it), allow them, if you must, to make the excuse that there is nothing worthwhile to do where they live, but please don't make the excuse for them.

I realize that I used the word draconian twice in this one entry. I've become rather fond of the word.


  1. Personally, I am rather fond of the word draconian :)

    I've never been, hmmm, agreeable with that type of attitude of 'There's nothing to do here so let's do something potentially harmful' type of mentality. This isn't because I was raised Mormon's more because I *saw* what happened when people make stupid choices when growing up. Thus, my reading addiction starting at the age of 12 :)

    There are so many possibilities out there, that's it's pretty sad that no one takes the time to think and do one of them...

    So, yes I agree with you. Also, parents should never make excuses for their children (unless it's needed for a medical condition/situation) because that is just removing the the responsibility from their actions that they NEED to learn and understand.

  2. I stopped on that show for about 30 seconds last night. Now I wish I'd watched it.

    I like your expression, "flying squirrel's ass"... that's hilarious!

    When I was a teenager, I was all about 4H.

  3. Ironically enough, I will be around the Tunkhannock area later this week. My cousins are only about an hour north of there. Most of Pennsylvania is rural. But that being said Tunkhannock's probably more suburban than where I live. My cousins, who live where chickens actually do cross the road, are very into music, 4H, and participate in the sports that the local public school provides. Skiing and snowboarding are big.

    Nothing to do is probably one of the most frequent lies told.

  4. It doesn't surprise me that you'll be near Tunkhannock, Becca. Between relatives and medical appointments, you seem to have reasons for getting around your state.

    Your cousins are a classic example of taking advantage of school, community, and personal resources to amuse themselves. Even where chickens literally cross the road, there are interesting things to do. In addition to the "nothing to do here" clause being untrue, it's usually a slap in the face to those who work hard to make those activities available and who devote valuable resources to those activities that would probably benefit them personally to a greater degree if they went elsewhere. i haven't suddenly become Polly Purebred, Perfect Citizen. I'm every bit as obnoxious and rebellious as I was three weeks ago, but there is plenty to do almost anywhere without having to resort to involving an innocent and unwanted baby in order to amuse oneself.