Thursday, December 09, 2010
Some time back, before I got consumed with the endeavor that took me away from blogging earlier this week, I skimmed over an HBL posting whose title (repeated above) was a riff on the parable of the boiled frog. The basic point was that cultural change can occur imperceptibly, and that, over a span of decades it is possible to discern some improvements to American culture.
An article from Jewish World Review indirectly reminded me of that point because the prospect of gleaning some indication of cultural change is what induced me to read it. That didn't happen, though: There are many reasonable explanations, good and bad, for such a decision on a personal level, and nothing jumps out at me as a dominant cultural reason to draw a conclusion one way or another.
Still, the fact that fewer sixteen-year-olds are applying for driver's licenses lately is interesting. Among the good reasons for putting off this rite of passage that could be a sign of positive cultural change (if it were widespread enough) reminds me of myself when I was a kid:
Melody Hornbeck, 17, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., said she wasn't ready to get her permit at 15.I saw too many kids ahead of me in school start driving and stop doing well in class, and I didn't want to get caught up in all the distractions that seemed to go with driving. So I waited a year, although that put me in the driver's seat at sixteen anyway, since the driving age in agrarian Mississippi was 15 in those days.
"I was mature enough to tell myself I wasn't mature enough to drive," said Hornbeck.
She said a friend of hers rear-ended another car while fiddling with a cell phone headset.
On the other hand, I am concerned that this trend could be an indication that people are starting to undervalue the independence that driving symbolizes. Part and parcel of such a trend would be that it reflects an upswing in worst-case thinking.
"A lot of teens are very scared to drive," said Craig Emerson, owner of Abbott's Florida Driving School, which offers lessons in Palm Beach and Broward counties. "We haven't seen a complete drop-off but more are waiting."Fortunately, part of this concern seems to stem from the unfortunate habit many people seem to have developed of texting while at the wheel, so there is some hope that we aren't raising a generation of "safety" ninnies.
I see the article as inconclusive on its own, but still worth a look.
PS: Oh, yes. The endeavor I mentioned above was, by all indications, successful. But I'll have to leave it at that for now.