Books for Everyone!

May 2021

Double Dutch

Some people say that life is a balancing act, calibrating and prioritizing various roles and responsibilities. The problem for me with that assessment is that there is always the possibility of falling off of the high-wire, or even a low-wire. And I have an undeniable and inescapable fear of heights.

My sense of how I live my life, and how I work — is jumping Double Dutch.

I’ve not looked up online the wordy and, most likely, inaccurate definition of this type of childhood jump rope, and I refuse to do so. During the past few years, Internet information turned pell-mell into digital disinformation. I’ve most happily returned to using strictly my hard-cover dictionaries, Thesaurus, and encyclopedias.

Ten to twelve years ago, while I was writing THE DAWN, I was most fortunate to have discovered some rather personal websites created by very unique persons. They wished to disclose, to an audience beyond themselves, historical, yet personal, data and stories. Those individuals wrote under their real names. They revealed real-life stories, and they provided to a vast supply of unknown people the tales of their cultural inheritance:

The son of a British World War II bomber pilot who only spoke about his heroism to his son at the end of his life. The grand-daughter of a woman who had rescued resisters in the north of France. An officer’s lounge, re-created on the Web, with courageous American men in their war uniforms. An investigative account of the Nazi super-baby project that went horribly wrong.

I’d bookmarked those websites for future reference. Those sites are now long gone. And I miss them dearly, though not for the reasons one might think. I miss them for their frankness, for their generosity of imparting to unknown people the precious souvenirs of their lives.

I shall forever feel indebted to those valiant souls who posted onto a risky public realm their glorious gems of memory. Those emotional investments, I believe, have yielded not only my profound gratitude, but the silent appreciation of countless others who learned true stories that simply, humbly, reverently asked to be told, that so very much needed to be told, and were, at last, told.

There were in those tales no political slant, no muddying the waters of history, no hidden or even obvious agendas. The time had come for those private memories to be imparted to the future; they were stated with honesty and unselfish sentiment.

I really threaded the needle on that accurate inventory of historic information. As is usually the case, I am not aware of the fleeting lifespan of those worlds of knowledge. I’m presently more than aware, on a daily basis of their disappearance, almost like a virtual vanishing act!

That wealth of accurate, fascinating and telling information has largely been replaced by slickly devised sites of Petty Propagandists and of The Professional Moaners who make money off of their moans. Promoting big and humongous lies is the raison d’être for the incredibly lazy social justice keyboarder. Monetizing misery is the name of the forum huckster game.

These instant experts come from all walks of life, paths that led them to nowhere, and so they’ve parked themselves in hyperspace, hoping other people will pay their parking tickets. The glass there is always half-empty, and it is draining fast. The bloke needs a job, but has decided that his brainpower will get him cold hard cash. He’ll offer his opinions, for a price.

Typically, the real identity of the Newspinion Expert is not known, and the domain name offers very little insight into who is actually behind its creation, formation, fomentation and funding. Often, the Word-Wizard hosts an online barking chain. He’s the Chief Dog, though; don’t you dare forget it! That first bite might be free, but it ought to serve as the one-way trip outta there!

It’s become grotesque, the proliferation of infobahn experts, bloviating about any subject of “political” and “social” significance. Regardless of the political stripe, the person is a long-winded know-it-all, posing as what used to be a Journalist, or Investigative Reporter. Site after site after site has the same news-aggregator appearance. That home-page layout must poll well.

There’s also the Comments Section, sometimes with a price tag for you to opine via that lovely computer voice. And let us not omit the rancid smell of intellectual superiority that overhangs that entire realm of unreality known as virtual reality.

With the final collapse of The News Media, after their decades of having crumbled toward those even-lower false bottoms of deception and corruption, we Americans are now treated to the Volunteer Corps of News Aggregators. An army of news-hounds, baying for free, at least for now. Donations, contributions and financial support are always welcome. One cannot hope to avoid the in-your-face request-pop-ups, hurtling toward you at about the same instant, 12 seconds after your regrettable click onto the “info” home page.

I do not know what software gurus are hawking this sales-stuff, but the stuff ain’t working.

The mushrooming of these spores of newly incubated websites, presenting to you, the Uninformed, All the Current-Events-Newspinion-Worth-Blogging-About — are wretchedly written. They are amateurishly assembled, and clumsily skewed toward whatever neurotic need the Author of the site has nursed, sometimes for a lifetime.

Half-right, more than half-wrong, exaggerated on certain points, underplayed on others, sensationalized with whatever pompous spirit moves this manipulator to con another customer to agree with her point-of-view. During times of uncertainty, this propaganda peddler offers plenty of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

What a soothing balm for a worried mind! But wait, there’s more! If you sign up by this week’s deadline, you’ll be able to receive, and be worthy of: The Electronic Newsletter!

I am allergic to the sight of these faux-journal websites. They’re too reminiscent of the trickery and ego-stroking that comprised so much of my childhood, my early adulthood, and, well, all of the years between then and now. Jumping Double Dutch on the school playground was easy, compared to trying to sort out the shams of life, dressed up as truth and reality on the World Wide Web.

Why was I so good at jumping Double Dutch on the blacktop pavement of my grammar school, to the point of comprehending that mastering Double Dutch is a template for living life well, if not always wisely?

As a child, in my family home, I was very much aware that my father was dying. His wife, my mother, seemed to be in denial of that reality. That situation forced me to look upon life as a matter of dealing head-on, as best I could, with the truths that others around me did not want to face. I somehow was able to view the truth as an ally, not a foe.

Jumping Double Dutch was a natural ability for me; although I did not know at the age of eight or nine that I possessed that, or many, natural abilities. (Jumping Chinese jump rope was another foot-rhythmic game that I mastered fairly easily.) To an enormous extent, I grew up as an anomaly to myself, an enigma that I’ve had to figure out. The figuring out worked very much to my advantage. I was a neglected child, but the neglect, benign or otherwise, served as a catalyst for me to discover who I was. I was more in charge of determining my identity than was anyone else.

In a wondrous way, that circumstance of deprivation gave to me the freedom to define myself, rather than be defined by other people. There are far worse ways for anyone to mature from childhood to adulthood. I had few, if any, pre-conceived notions about my unique self. Being a blank slate to even yourself provides enormous advantages, although the drawbacks typically fell into the category of not knowing enough to know enough. I was, therefore, ripe for being used, taken advantage of, even exploited, as a faux-Fairy Godparent led me down the garden path to a garbage pit. Once I wised up, I left the pit and proceeded to my own pathway, one that led to the marvelous gardens I’d create.

I am therefore almost incapable of countenancing the professional imposters who make use of the misfortunes of others to make money for themselves. The dark web is not dark for those who can see the light, right away, and spot those frauds, luring in lonely, confused and despairing individuals, as they so nobly offer, for a fee, friendly advice and guidance that only THEY can disburse during these dreadful times.

I’ve not fallen victim to these personalized ploys, but, boy are there hundreds of hoaxes, just waiting to happen!

I’ve observed, with disgust, the proliferation of websites, scrambling to fill in where a skeptical and adversarial Fourth Estate once functioned freely and gleefully.

Just sign up for their Special Bulletin or Light Bulb Alerts — from the Master Decoder of the Double Meanings and Triple Entendres that flood our days and nights, especially here in America. Where life is falling apart faster each minute, the faster citizens cut the cord and unplug and go outside to play and have fun. (Maybe even jump Double Dutch.)

The parasitic nature of this breed of money-maker is revolting. To feed off of the problems of humanity, that’s been the modus operandi of politicians and journalists for centuries. For anonymous ether-sphere nobodies to have taken to conjuring, as volunteer correspondents, the hoaxes of P.T. Barnum, so pervasively, on the Internet: that omnipresent trend is a sign, to me, that the Internet is no longer an opportunity for anyone to seek out facts and figures. My guess is that this creepy-crawly current too shall pass, and the free-for-all of obscenely slanted info will find its fitting end.

The online question: Are you a man or a mouse? will have found its decisive answer.

Until then, there shall seemingly be no end to opinion masquerading as fact, a phase that put a brutal end to Broadcast News. The free market will fix and fill that void, of a public just wanting to know the facts, not what to believe or think or say or feel about anything or anyone. With the tacky attempts at mind-control going on at these Hotshot Opinion Webpages, I’d say those schemers are losing their minds!

By the time that my children were of an age to possibly learn how to jump Double Dutch, there really was not much of a fun playground upon which they could play. By then, I was home-schooling them. They’d found their own games to play. Jumping Double Dutch would not have appealed to them much, if at all.

The absence of one of my childhood games from their childhoods did not forecast the downfall of American society in transferring culture, arts, song and dance from my era to theirs. Sometimes, a tradition needs a breather — to breathe more freely.

Jumping Double Dutch taught me all I needed to know about how to face my life. How my children face their lives is mostly up to them. It’s okay for jumping rope to jump a generation or two, and then land squarely, on its own two feet, in a newer place and time. You revere more what you’ve grown to miss, not what you’re ordered to do, or have shoved down your throat.

I’d tell those digital czars and czarinas to get a life, but I’m not part of their clique and cabals, and they would’t listen to me anyway. They’re too in love with the sounds of their own voices, and the sights of their own screen-loads of typed thoughts.

I’d wager none of them jumped Double Dutch either.