Native Writes: Changing times: cell phones, photos, polaroids


The late Ricky Nelson recorded a nice song, advising his then-young listeners, and I paraphrase, “You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.”

Sometimes, one can’t even do that.

He really didn’t, adventuring into life activities that wouldn’t please anyone but himself, especially the pseudo comfort of mind-altering substances.

His now-aging fans have long moved on. In today’s world, the supermarket checkout tabloids get on an ugly topic and stay there until something nastier comes along. 

My first tabloid purchase was so I could read about some member of royalty who was gambling himself into the streets. That name pops up again once in a while but the paper stays out of my cart.

My dad was addicted to gambling and I knew when he had gone overboard. I still love simple pasta and I force myself to gamble if the lottery jackpot is high enough.

When I was a teenager, three editions usually satisfied my desire to know all about a celebrity or situation. I bought raffle tickets from high school students and wrote a school essay on how people from other planets would view our world.

Life moved on. Haircuts changed, bobby socks yielded to nylons and the boys went away to war in Southeast Asia.

Alamosa was a simple, safe place.

Sitting outside Alamosa High School waiting for the grandson, I realized that, while times have changed, teens haven’t, even though their options have grown.

The cell phone has changed many of them, for sure. 

Ease of photography is one of the biggest differences. Sharing photos in the 1960s was a complicated and relatively expensive process. Rolls of film were taken to the drugstore and emerged, in about a week along with an envelope containing negatives. The folks loved that. They would get reprints during the holidays and mail photos to all their friends and relatives.

I confess, since age 10, that’s why I have hated to have my picture taken.

A “selfie?” Heaven forbid.

It took wangling, begging and finally threatening to get me into a family group photo. When each roll of film was developed, I was half-grinning and my mom, who was studying psychology, bemoaned the self image she thought I once had.

Now that my teeth are gone and I’m looking at dental plans, she would howl in agony.

Today, my children dig in photo boxes for pictures of me. They found one on a press identification card. The old half-grin.

The new thing on my family’s “please do-it” list is a studio photo — after I find a dentist who will take payments. They want cash or insurance up front. You can’t repossess teeth.

I get by without smiling, but fine dining is out of the question.

Self-image has yielded to self-concept.

I’m still wondering where people stash their self-images.

Under fire for reference to a long-gone protest symbol, I think I need a new one. I am not angry that people disagree.

At least someone knew I wrote about it. 

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