From 1964 through 1972, one of the most memorable and popular television shows of the time was Bewitched, the story of witch who marries an ordinary mortal man who works in the advertising industry. Samantha, the witch, was played by one of my earliest boyhood crushes, Elizabeth Montgomery. By the way, my other television crush was Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie. Men of a certain age fully understand what I’m talking about.
Samantha and her husband, Darrin Stephens, lived on Morning Glory Circle in the suburbs outside New York City. A typical baby-boomer dream.
Across the street lived Gladys Kravitz and her husband Abner. Gladys was the busy-body of the street. Perched at her front window, oftentimes with binoculars, she gathered tidbits of juicy gossip every episode. Despite her best efforts, try as she may, she never seemed to convince her husband that what she saw from the window was factual. Abner always seemed to be relaxing on the couch in the living room reading the newspaper, quietly minding his own business. He didn’t seem to care what Gladys was saying, possibly for fear of getting drawn into his wife’s crazy goings on.
I thought about this very scene the other day and it hit me. We are living in an age of a digital Gladys Kravitz. Intrigued? Good. Let me explain.
Gladys has a need to know information regarding what is occurring around her. She sought out the only means available to her at the time, which was snooping on her neighbors from her front window. When she saw something interesting or provocative, she immediately yelled “Abner!” in an attempt to spread the news from her point of view. However, Abner was not interested and dismissed what she said.
In 2020 and certainly during years prior, we have fashioned our own way to glare out of our front window to see what we can see, except our window is more figurative than literal. By this I mean the internet and social media is our new “Gladys glass.” We peer through and at it more often than we care to admit. We scour social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook looking for scraps of information. Now, we can skip a disinterested Abner and shout instead “Hey everybody. Look what I found.” We share points of view, photos and links to sites that support our own perspectives, hoping that others will like and share it also.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all social media is bad. The responsibility is with the user, not the platform. It’s human nature to feel the need to belong and be in-the-know. But we can’t allow this desire to overtake critical thinking and common sense. Look for sites that present information without editorializing or explaining what it means… like this site.
Perhaps this detrimental trend toward closed-minds and narrow ideals will trend away. Like most things, trends go in cycles and swing back and forth like a pendulum. Fingers crossed.
If only we could twitch our nose and make it all better.
Brent Davis is a life-long resident of Benton. He is proud of his hometown and the good people in it. He served as editor of the Saline Courier from 2011 to 2014. He’s also the author of “As I See It – Memories & Musings of a Middle Aged Southern Man.” See the archive of his columns at www.mysaline.com/brent.