I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Schools can’t take all the blame

I’ve got no argument with people who say that our educational system is quickly disappearing down the drain like so much dirty dishwater. I mean, it is. From infrastructure – or the lack thereof – to the dismal quality of instructions kids are receiving. But as bad as the schools are, they can’t take all the blame. 

It’s a confluence of factors, really. Factors that contribute to the dumbing down of my generation. And some these most insdious factors I found neatly encapsulated in this ad:


Don’t get me wrong. I think Mark Herras is as cute as a button. He has that roguish glint in his eye that can make a girl’s knees go weak. But, in this ad, he represents a major disease of our society: the disease of putting too much emphasis on physical beauty.

By emphasizing physical beauty on the scale that we are doing now, we are creating in the youth this mistaken belief that physical beauty equates with all things good and wonderful; thereby creating by necessary implication that the lack of beauty equates with everything NOT good and wonderful. This unconscious molding of the youth’s minds leads directly to the creation of a poor self-image which in turn leads to an entire cesspool of problem, including promiscuity. It’s not just the pretty girls that get knocked up, ya’know. In fact, I’d even hazard a guess that there are more not-particularly-pretty girls who get preggers than their prettier counterparts. Us not-so-pretties are easy prey to lotharios who flatter us with attention only to get into our pants. Lepers, like Thomas Covenant loved to say, are particularly susceptible to beauty (or to being told that they are beautiful). 

And this isn’t just me talking either. Take a gander at American cartoons nowadays. They’ve got yellow skinned people, kids with heads shaped like footballs, little girls with ginormous teeth and coke-bottle specs. In other words, ordinary people. American psychologists realized long ago that bombarding kids with images of beautiful children would wreak havoc on their self-image. As a result, modern children’s cartoons strive for ordinary-ness in their characters – with Kim Possible perhaps being the notable exception. 


Hataw sa video games? I’m not too young to remember when my mother used to say that video games rot the brains. Now, my brat brother – not even seventeen – has a PSP courtesy of …. yep, mom. Whatever happened to video games rotting brains, ma? LOL! Maybe she just thought it wasn’t particularly ladylike for girls to contort themselves into epileptic dances just to get a FATALITY at Mortal Kombat.

Ah, but whatever the truth is about my mom, her changing attitudes reflects a troubling slackening of standards; prolly courtest of that drivel spouted by salesmen about how playing video games improves hand-eye coordination. What a load of bullshit. Michaelangelo never touched a Nintendo and he managed to carve a David out of a piece of marble that other artisans had given up on; heck! David never had PSP and he still knocked out Goliath with a single (sling)shot. Or conversely, me and my brat brother have been exposed to video games since we were little and we still can’t thread a needle to save our lives!

But all of that seems to be water under the bridge now, because apparently being good at video games and dancing is being promoted as the ultimate good. Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing wrong with being good at games and dancing, but it just doesn’t rank up there with being well-read and being articulate, ya’know? Call me old-fashioned, but I’d take a good conversationalist over a good gamer anyday. Sorry fanboys.

Make no mistake about it. This ad promotes the concept of fun as being an end-all-be-all. People who see things that way end up doing anything to be called fun – to live up to some screwy notion of what it means to be cool. Like putting out and spending hours cutting class just to be able to play WOW.

Now there are those who would argue that times have changed and that people get rich playing video games. Yeah. Right. Like people get rich playng in the NBA too. Video games and dancing as the route to future success is a realistic option for only a few people. For the vast majority, being glued to a game console only means you’ll eventually end up a loser who’ll never get laid.


The problem here is that we’re being raised by a generation of parents who are riddled by guilt. They’re guilty that they were so busy making a living and putting food on the table that they didn’t get to spend enough qualitime with their kids. To compensate; to assuage the guilt, they throw money at us – under the guise of equipping us to face a hyper-technological world. 

As a result, my generation feels no guilt at all spending money we haven’t earned. Instant gratification without the maturity to prevent that sort of indulgence from damaging us. Cellphone companies capitalize on this by expanding their business in ever more creative ways. 

From simply providing telephony, they branched out to text messaging. COmpared to calls, SMS makes peanuts per transaction; but the damned thing is addictive. So, SMS makes up in bulk. And now, SMS revenues account for more than telephony revenues. From text messaging, they start pushing e-wallets and e-cash, making it even easier for kids to waste their money, and for parents not to realize that they’re haemorraghing cash. Remember when you had to scratch a card so that you could burn more money? 

By making ‘load’ so incredibly accessible, the telcos are repeating the SMS play: make up in bulk. I bet that if anyone were to check now, we’d prolly see that there is more money in electronic loading than in card-based loading. When people don’t realize they’re spending money, they end up spending even more.

And now, apart from pushing all sorts of modern innovations like 3G or 4G even, telcos start pushing content. We don’t spend enough time and money on their phones, they now have to actively engage us with their computers. Who needs friends, after all, when you can chat with Mark Herras P2.50/text? That’s phone sex, that’s what it is. People just don’t realize it. 

Wake up

So wake up, folks. Let’s reform schools by all means. But no matter how good the school system gets, the fact remains that kids spend more time outside these schools than they do in them. So whatever good is in there, is too quickly overwhelmed by what’s out here. 

So, I’m gonna go Gautama on you and tell you that out here, hedonism rules the day. And anyone whose been a kid will realize that the pleasure principle trumps study habits 9 times out of 10. Since that’s the case, how effective will uber-excellent schools be at uplifting the intellectual plight of an entire nation’s youth? Puh-leeze. 

Outside those ivory walls, far too many kids are being predisposed to not caring about learning or bettering themselves – except maybe at video games and dancing. And if you’re good at Grand Theft Auto, who cares if you can’t recite the table of eights?


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