My older-younger brother reminded me that he and our younger brother used to watch and then ‘play’ Time Tunnel when they were little boys. A 1966 science fiction series on ABC that lasted only one season (but had 30 episodes) it starred James Darren and Robert Colbert as Tony and Doug, as two scientists who go into the time tunnel to prove that it works and wasn’t a huge waste of government finds. Unfortunately, they get trapped in the Time Tunnel because it doesn’t actually work exactly as planned and spend the season careening from time period to time period. My brothers enjoyed the tumbling through the tunnel part (played by the hallway in our home) more than the actual historical events that Doug and Tony landed in the middle of, but I had to laugh at the memory that it evoked.
I wondered this week if that’s how Paula Dean felt as she watched a few sponsors depart and sat with Matt Lauer for her public reckoning. If we all had to explain and defend things we did in our past (whether recent or far back), I’m not sure how well we would hold up.
I DO know that it is a ‘Smartphone Twitterverse. ‘ Things we do and say can be instantly communicated online, uploaded, and taken out of context. Privacy isn’t really private and the lines blur for those in the public area between what is ‘on the record’ and what, if anything, is off the record.
So we should all be ‘on notice’ about what we say, what we do, how we act, and what can be picked up from asides or ‘stage whispers.’ Jokes aren’t always jokes, and words don’t always have universal meaning. What you meant – your intention, might have little to do with the impact of your statement.
These are good things to know NOW.
But what about your younger self? You know – the younger you who was raised to think and talk like role-model adults around you? The one who had no idea that the Internet would appear and with it came your elementary school photos posted by a classmate. The organization you joined to impress someone else, without knowing everything the leaders stood for and talked about. The person you recommended that years later was sent to prison.
Like a bad hairstyle, you will be judged by today’s standards for yesterday’s actions.
We like ‘second acts’ in this country and cheer at the redemption. I have heard that George Wallace wasn’t a racist and bigot when he died. Tracy Lords left the porn industry for standard movie roles. Malcolm X was a drug dealer before he became an activist and minister. Who else comes to mind?
I can’t speak about who has been wronged or what needs to be done by whom for whom in order to be redeemed. But I’m amazed at the number of people who can.
They better not get to close to the Time Tunnel. There are things in their past they might be uncomfortable revisiting.
(In the spirit of full disclosure – I’m going to my high school reunion this weekend. I am betting there will be things other people remember that I don’t recall.)