This should not have happened to anyone, but with a gymnastics career recorded in the pages of history, Simon Bales has become a warning story of today – unless, of course, we forget about it, we move on to the next media sensation and again – we ignore the warning signs.
Bales wrote on Instagram that the problem she suffered from was “dizziness”, a phenomenon in which gymnasts lose the ability to follow their body movement at high speed. It happens. A few years ago, baseball star Chuck Novlauch, who reached the second base four times, failed to throw an accurate ball to the first base. He saved his career by moving to another spot on the field. Bales returned to the beam this week and won a bronze medal.
What remains is the same problem expressed in two words – mental health – the problem mentioned in the French way when tennis player Naomi Osaka failed to play (“it’s okay to be wrong”) and is common to countless American children. The corona plague will eventually subside. The mental health epidemic remains with us.
Ahead of her appearance in Tokyo it seemed that Simon Bales’ Olympic career would end like in fairy tales. So let’s get into the tangle of her latest Olympics through the door of practical stories.
There was, in a faraway land called Harvard University, a young man named Mark Zuckerberg, who came up with the idea of using the Internet so that college students could connect easily and instantly with friends. It was a great idea, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that allowed Mark to live in a magical place called Silicon Valley.
As every boy and girl knows, legends that begin with a miracle can go wrong. One day, the young wizard Mark became the sorcerer’s apprentice, creating a world where Facebook members multiplied and multiplied and could not control the imaginary life they found on Mark’s social networking platforms.
One of the women lost there was Simon Bales.
If it really was a legend like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a wise sorcerer would come and restore order. But we live in the real world, and there are no signs that we will soon wake up from the dream world of social media.
Fame became a phenomenon of mass media as early as 100 years ago, when everyone was mesmerized by Hollywood stars on the big screen. People would go to the movies or watch TV and then think, in their innocence: I wish I could have been so famous. On social media, the siren song of celebrities has become a reality.
Celebrities routinely and consciously sacrifice mental health on the altar of glory. This is something they do not face. What we have done with modern social networks is the democratization of neurosis. Today, every man and woman is free to be self-obsessed all the time – what they look like or what others (their “audience” on the networks) say about them.
After a week of scandals over withdrawal from the gymnastics competition, Bales provided an explanation that spanned more than a dozen Instagram posts. Instagram belongs to Facebook, which in May flooded the Instagram idea for children under 13. What can go wrong?
Sometime in the last decade, articles in the literature related to academic education have begun to appear about a sharp increase in the number of students coming to mental health centers in colleges. Many came because of “stress” in one form or another. At first, it was hard to believe the numbers mentioned in the articles. But soon universities reached a point where they were unable to employ enough mental health professionals at a pace that would match the demand for mental health assistance. 10 years ago it was clear that something new was causing young people to go off the rails.
One of the popular remedies was the idea that parents would solve this huge problem by “monitoring” their children’s screen time. Intended for those parents who write messages on their iPhones as they roll the kids in a stroller, yes?
It is impossible to say nonsense on this subject without entering the battlefield of cultural wars.
One of the most popular TV shows ever was “The Adventures of Ozzy and Harriet” starring the real Nelson family – parents and their two children. The series aired from 1952 to 1966. Look again at the years of broadcast. Were they good or bad years for life in America?
Among left-wing intellectuals, Ozzy and Harriet, known as “Family Situation Comedy,” has become a code name for an American society that has been over-idealized, a society that oppresses the individual and is restrictive and moralistic. The bitter irony is that their solution was to unleash restraint. And here we are.
The modern narrative of an endless disruption of everything – which today has become more dominant and uncompromising than ever – was wrong, a mistake that harmed millions, especially young people, not only because they are weak or vulnerable but because no one should try to live in bubbles so bubbling that their structure So loose (bubble bubbles is a horrible expression, but definitely appropriate).
Forget dismantling Facebook, it will only double the original nightmare several times over. We have a choice: either we will wake up and re-learn some of the basic values we have lost or we will get used to seeing glorious careers like Simon Bales’ get off track as a matter of routine.