I always have mixed feelings about leaving my mountain oasis and heading “over the hill” to the Valley of Silicon. Love the work and the high-tech industry. The traffic and the crowds, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m no tech elitist, not by any stretch. Maybe a bit on the reclusive side in my old age, but hey, if you spent your entire career in meetings, airplanes and hotel rooms, you’d want to chill for a few years too. That’s not the problem.
The problem is, the Valley I used to know has turned into a bad zombie movie where, instead of human flesh, the undead feast on fast food and have phones stuck to their faces. Everywhere I went yesterday – I’m going to be blunt here, so brace yourself – folks were way overweight and doing as little as possible to change it.
We’re not just talking about a few lumpy pounds here and there. We’re talking people the size of two or three of me. Lots of them. T-shirts used to top out at XL, maybe XXL; now I don’t know how they fit all the Xs on those little labels.
I finished my big day out with a run down the Los Gatos Creek Trail by Lake Vasona. You could definitely tell that this was Netflix country – the entertainment company’s new corporate headquarters wasn’t the only thing that had gotten huge.
And instead of getting some down time to experience nature and ponder the meaning of life, everyone was plugged in – even the bikers, hikers and fishers – binge watching Game of Thrones or posting pics of terrified squirrels to their Facebook page, no doubt.
Stopping at the supermarket on my way home, I ended up standing in line behind a woman who was so engrossed in her phone conversation that it took her countless attempts to check out before finally getting her debit card and pin right. Ten minutes, it took. No kidding.
The problem is that this has become the cultural norm. Gluttony, sloth and distraction are now accepted behavior. The real crime is what it’s doing to our mental and physical health.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s great that folks are becoming more comfortable with their imperfect bodies. Let’s face it, none of us look like supermodels.
But the only reason I’m in as decent shape as I’m in is because my parents, God rest their sainted souls, weren’t. I vowed at an early age to never become that way, and I never have. It’s a matter of self-respect and discipline. It’s just not acceptable to me. If I were born today, things might have been different. And that’s a scary thought.
Look, I’m not saying that everyone should be thin, athletic and healthy. We’re a diverse race and there’s room for all kinds – a spectrum of body and behavioral types, if you will. But let’s be logical. When cultural norms continue to shift to the dark side of human behavior for years and years, reinforcing that behavior will only continue the trend.
Accepting natural physical and mental diversity is one thing; celebrating cultural norms that are clearly unhealthy is another matter entirely. The latter is slowly killing us, literally and spiritually.