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Are We Programmed More Than TV?

Dec 18, 2007
Pavlov programmed dogs to salivate when he rang a bell. Humans are programmed too. Walking, talking, toilet training, asking for allowance - it starts when we're children.

When we're children, parents try to instill those three, little words - please and thank you - into our vocabularies. Whenever a child wants something or is given something, parents ask "What do you say?" I wonder what children would say if they were expected to learn from their parents' example.

In school children are taught reading, writing and arithmetic until these skills become automatic. Unfortunately, things have changed. Each generation is reading less, writing has become word processing and new math has been invented. On top of that, new countries have formed and old ones have changed their names. Pluto is no longer a planet and mice are on the endangered species list. If I'd known how much the world was going to change, I might have changed my study habits.

Instead, I was programmed to remember the multiplication tables, phonetic spelling and that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. All that information is still in my computerized brain. It's just that my brain doesn't process the information as fast as the newer models do.

When I was a child, my family planned its evenings around our favorite television shows. It was known as appointment TV. We don't make appointments anymore. Now we have VCR's and TiVo's. Now our favorite shows will wait for us. Maybe this helps compensate for all the time we still spend waiting for doctors and dentists.

Christmas shopping traditionally waits until the day after Thanksgiving. This conditioning has made that Friday the busiest shopping day of the year. Because I can't handle the pressure, I do my Christmas shopping throughout the year. The day after Thanksgiving I'm still talking turkey to my digestive system.

On New Year's Eve I feel pressured to make resolutions. The only excuse not to make them would be if my life were perfect. Making resolutions is easy for me. It's keeping them that's hard. Maybe I could make my life better if I made resolutions for my husband, my children and my mother-in-law.

My grandmother would say to live one day at a time and I do - but I'm on automatic most of the time. Just brushing my teeth takes at least ten steps. If I weren't on automatic, I'd stall.
About the Author
KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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http://knightwatch.typepad.com
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