A meme has been making the rounds on Facebook about getting children into nature, claiming that kids “don’t remember their best day of television.” Thankfully, many of the people in my geeky circles have torn it apart with their best life-changing television memories.
Mine was May 23, 1994. The episode was “All Good Things…”, the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was the first time I had ever seen a television show do what is now considered a proper wrap-up of story lines from the series, and it still ranks up there with “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” from M*A*S*H as one of my favorites farewells in television history.
While the Children & Nature Network has a point in unplugging kids and getting them into the world around them – I spent a great deal of time in nature and away from tech in my youth over many years working on my Eagle Scout award and as a volunteer Trail Patrol member at Antelope Island State Park – this meme easily glosses over the effect that good television has on people. Good stories, regardless of medium, transport your imagination away from the burdens of reality and allow you to dream and hope, and fosters creativity.
Yes, even kids can understand the burdens of the real world and create imaginative wonders to solve them. Anecdotally, I know a successful filmmaker and writer who escaped abuse at home through the wonders of Star Wars. A more concrete example is the duo of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the high school teens who created Superman to battle the social injustices of the 1930s.
My love of speculative fiction stems from being introduced to Star Trek and Lost in Space by my father, and the plethora of action, adventure, and science fiction that dominated the 1980s television landscape. My imagination is still fueled by those memories to this day.
In the end, kids will remember their best days so long as those days are spent seeking their bliss. The trick is finding out what fuels their passions while guiding them into the world at large. All things in moderation.