Rainy Day Writing

Writing, Reading, Inspirations and Aspirations

Smart Phones, Wonder Bread, Crack Cocaine and Commie Plots

Smartphones are as ubiquitous these days as Wonder Bread was when I was growing up.

Turns out they might be just as over rated when it comes to how helpful, or healthful, they actually are for keeping us all “connected”, especially for kids.

But back to Wonder Bread for a moment for some context.

Open any cupboard door or breadbox lid back in the sixties and you would find a loaf of Wonder Bread. You would know it by the dazzling white wrapper and the bright primary colored dots and bands. What an eye-catching design! Hard to miss on a grocery store shelf or in a pantry.

My favorite sandwich on Wonder Bread was peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. But mostly I ate bologna sandwiches with mustard, because even way back then, we knew that marshmallow fluff was a little over the top. But bologna sandwiches–health food, no doubt about it.

And Wonder Bread did promise from the start to “help build strong bodies eight ways”, and later, twelve ways, as we became more educated about nutrition.

Never mind that this was actually a reference to all the added nutrients it contained. Or that these were practically necessary for Wonder Bread to even qualify as food, because the basic ingredients of white bread in the sixties:  refined white flour, sugar, water, yeast, etc., really don’t have much nutritional value.

Brilliant Marketing. And we fell for it.

Of course, this is old news. We all know this. Now.

But let’s face it folks, we are talking about the Tang generation here, so it’s easy to see how indoctrinated we were by marketing claims.

Tang was science, and space travel.

Tang was the future.

It was almost an American duty to drink Tang. And we did so, gladly, in service to our country.

It was what the Astronauts drank for crying out loud, plus, it tasted awesome. I pretty much drank it everyday for like twelve years.

The only reason I have any teeth in my head today is because they fluoridated our water back then too.

And of course, now we know that Tang was to orange juice what crack cocaine is to Budweiser.

And fluoridation was really a hard core commie plot, just in case you didn’t know that either.

And yes,  at the time, we thought we were geniuses. Turns out all the geniuses were writing ads for Tang, Wonder Bread, and Oscar Mayer.

Now, back to Smart Phones.

Last night, in a segment titled Screen Time , Sixty Minutes reported that the National Institutes of Health are doing a study of the brains of kids to see how cell phone usage affects brain development over time.

The results are not complete, and won’t be until they can study the children over a number of years, but already, they have observed that children who spend more time on their phones show changes in brain development, a slowing down of development in certain parts of the brain, as compared to children who don’t spend much time on devices.

They have also discovered that babies are more sensitive to the addictive effects of screen time, in particular as it relates to smart phone usage over tablets and other media delivery systems, than their older counterparts.

Other research revealed that while babies might appear to be learning from their screen time, much of what they learn does not cross over into the real world. They described how a baby who learns to play LEGOS on a screen cannot then play LEGOS off screen. In other words, if they want to play LEGOS in the real world, they have to learn to do it in the real world. So stop screen timing your babies and get out those LEGOS.

Generations of parents have limped around for days after stomping on those little plastic demons, and what makes you think your so special that you shouldn’t have to?

Another finding the NIH reported was that while young smart phone users say that they feel more connected to friends and family because of their smart phone activity, they are actually experiencing more depression, loneliness and feelings of isolation than they have in the past, translated, before wide spread cell phone usage.

This got me thinking about those genius marketers.

The question that I’m begging to ask young users is “If you have grown up with a smart phone since childhood, how would you know if it improves your connection to others or not?”

It might just be that you believe this because you have been told it for as long as you can remember and you are told the same thing nearly every time you look at your screen.

There is always some new app that you must have right now, right here in order to stay better “connected”.

There is always a new phone coming out that will out perform your old one and that you won’t want to live without because it will improve your quality of life and your social media game and everyone you know will have one and how could you possibly connect appropriately without it?

And as one industry insider reported, apps are constantly monitoring your phone habits and adjusting and updating the marketing messages that you receive on your devices, so that they seem to be responding to your needs, but what they are really doing is cleverly manipulating you into developing the needs that they want you to have.

Brilliant Marketing. And we are all falling for it.

Evidently, one of the things social media activity does for human beings is stimulate the production of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter which operates in the reward centers of our brains. And of course anything that stimulates our rewards center–sex, drugs, amaretto cheese cake, can become a habit forming problem if we let it.

Which goes a long way in explaining my long standing love/hate relationship with Facebook.

I know it’s a terrible time suck, and I don’t even like it that much, but I keep going back.

Even after discovering that corrupt and hostile foreign entities used it as a platform to foment a deeper political divide in this country than most of us alive can ever remember.

Which just might be the real hard core commie plot of our time.

©2018 By Ilona Elliott

Me and Cosmo

The Author (on the right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Amaretto cheese cake? I think we know just a bit more about you my friend!

    It’s a matter of dark & light…. Social media is addictive. But I love staying in touch with folks and getting news almost as it breaks. But I do worry about the kiddos who are being raised with screens… I feel like I could walk away from all of it if I needed to, but not sure they could comprhend that concept.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think those of us who have lived a lot longer without them than with them realize what a useful tool they are but we aren’t dependent on them for feeling socially connected or safe.

      Like

  2. realmarklandry

    Needed to hear this – especially bc my kids are always screaming for more screen time… ugh … and I’m constantly on this thing

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get that. It’s like the sirens calling to the sailors. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  3. Ilona – great article, I like your good humor and the natural way you pull everything together that feels direct and authentic.
    Your comments about Wonder Bread took me back, well, farther than I want to admit. In Toronto we used to get Buffalo TV, this is the early sixties – was there a show, Meet the Millers? – and I would watch American kids putting marshmallow fluff on their sandwiches to make Fluffernutters. But marshmallow fluff wasn’t available in Canada. (Trade war or something?) How I longed for unobtainable Fluff! Now I can buy Fluff, but I sense that longing for it was my pinnacle of enjoyment.
    I always roll my eyes when people talk about how “better connected” we are now. I remember a dinner party I gave a couple years ago, with six people at table, all on their phones…. But at least they shared it on Instagram!
    I look forward to exploring more of your writing.

    David Roddis

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh David no marshmallow fluff! Well, Canadians do seem to have more sense than Americans! It’s one of those things that tasted better when you were a kid anyways. Thanks for reading and commenting and the nice compliment. And Happy New Year to you.

      Like

  4. pinklightsabre

    We’re living this first hand with our kids. And the amaretto cheesecake.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A smartphone can never beat a bologna sandwich and some LEGO to play with.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If I had to choose, I think it’s marshmallow fluff and jacks to play with Black Sheep. They were even more painful than LEGO’s when contacted by stockinged feet.

    Like

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