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What Happened To The “Wow” Factor?

Remember being a kid?

Well, let me be more specific, those of you who are between 40 and say, 60 do you remember “wow” factors?  They consisted of going out at night, visiting the local drug store that had racks of comic books and magazines and shelves full of candy bars and other goodies?

Or maybe being able to sit in the front seat of the car?  Getting the brief chance to steer the car a little?  Maybe going to your first major league baseball game and actually seeing live, in person all you had only ever seen on television or listened to on the radio?

Other “wow” moments may have included your favorite band’s new album, or your first ever concert?  Exciting beyond belief!  Counting the days until the big event!  Talking about it to your friends, what you would do, what you will wear, and how it will be?!  Excitement built day-to-day just anticipating how ultimately unbelievable the experience would be.

Then there was summer time!

Oh summertime!  No more school!  Freedom!  Potential romances, summer jobs, swimming pools, hanging out at the local park, perhaps sneaking beers or being allowed to stay out late. 

Those were the days!  Having to go to summer school was a tremendous bummer because your friends were home sleeping, and because you couldn’t pass that class, you now have to spend six weeks of free time back in school.  Ugh!

Summers also had certain songs!  Summer songs!  They provided us a mystical path to follow and gave us great memories of summer experiences with girlfriends or boyfriends, places we visited, friends we spent time with or who we were in our adolescent development!  What did we know?

What didn’t we know?

I can recall many of those summer songs as a young guy!  They still bring me right back to where I was then when I hear them now.  Old crushes, happiness, sadness, and every other emotion between the two.  Bittersweet.  Silly, but real.

I wonder about children today.  Do they have wow factors?  I’m not certain.  It does not seem much really “wows” our younger generation these days.  “Summer school….oh well….”

Hanging out in the park?  “I may get my $200 sneakers dirty.”  Sneaking beers?  “Please!  I have pharmaceuticals to take!”  Romance?  “Why?  I have friends with benefits!”  Staying out “late?”  No biggie there….”I am out late all year!”

Back in the day, summer meant a moratorium on strict rules!  Today, there are not many changes once school’s out.  Being the romantic and sentimentalist I am, this makes me sad.  Why?

Well, because the mere “wow” of summer was intense!  So exciting, wonderful, liberating and life-inspiring!  Like an animal that had been caged for 10 months, now was time to let loose, and open so many doors of possibility that I relished it like a hot dog at a Met game!  I don’t think that spirit exists anymore for our young people.  Who cares about that?

Well, maybe so.

Who cares?  Then what do they care about?  This I cannot answer and it is puzzling.  As a psychotherapist, I see many youngsters (who remembers that word?)  and adolescents, and there is not much that truly excites, stimulates or entices them!

What is going on?  Society has lost a great deal of meaning in our quest for advancement, luxury, and ease.  Yet in all we have gained, so much is sacrificed.

The millenniums, as today’s youth are referred, are losing out on much!  Is this why school bullying and violence is so high?  Is this why parents struggle so hard to discipline their kids?  Is this why teenage suicide is at an all time high? Is this why childhood mental disorders and emotional problems are flooding the statistics like never before?  Wow.  But the wrong “wow” factor!

Read more posts by Leo Battenhausen, MSW, addiction and mental health counselor.  Leo is a blogger for JenningsWire.