It was the day from hell. All I wanted to do when I got back to my room was pass out and never wake up from my prolonged sleep. It must’ve been 2 a.m. when I finally made it to my room after my Wednesday responsibilities.
But something kept me up.
I normally fall asleep with the TV on every night. While channel surfing, I came across one of my favorite childhood cartoons: “Hey! Arnold.”
Seeing the show on the TeenNick channel made my heart swell up. I hadn’t seen the show in quite some time, but as I was watching, I started realizing how fortunate I was to grow up during this golden age of cartoon programming.
Shows like “Hey! Arnold,” “Rugrats” and “Rocket Power” all had important lessons to teach children.
The episode I was watching focused on Arnold’s attempt to free a tortoise named Lockjaw from an aquarium because his friends had thrown garbage at him and drew graffiti on his shell. In the end, Arnold was able to free Lockjaw into the ocean with the help of his grandmother.
Cartoons during the ’90s, believe it or not, helped shape who we are today. We were exposed to individuals like Arnold who cared about the world around him. He went against the grain and stood up to his friends who were all mistreating Lockjaw.
After these shows went to the wayside, Nickelodeon replaced these shows with ones such as “iCarly,” “Victorious” and “Big Time Rush,” all of which center around success and fame. It’s no wonder society places such a high emphasis on young adults to grow into successful, wealthy individuals.
Materialism is represented in these new shows so much that younger generations are starting to mold themselves into money-hungry beasts. The life of the successful teen pop star now triumphs over the life of the child living in a boarding house, trying to improve the community he lives in.
I cringe at the shows children are exposed to now. They are partly responsible for elementary school students walking around with iPhones and dancing in front of their bedroom mirror, trying to idolize these characters they see on TV.
Sure, it’s acceptable for children to dream about these types of lifestyles, but what happens when they don’t grow into the famous people they yearn to be?
We live in a world full of dreamers, people who daydream about their future in the middle of class.
I’m no exception to this.
My future is one of the major causes of my anxiety. But it shouldn’t be. Life isn’t about position, it’s about direction, and those are the types of people children in the ’90s were exposed to. People like Arnold and Doug Funny didn’t care about bettering themselves. They cared about bettering the world around them. If we all lived that way, the world would be a much better place.
Though comparing life to a cartoon may seem ludicrous, it’s actually accurate. We live each day as if it’s an episode, a new adventure awaiting us. Our actions and decision-making are what drives the plot forward. Think about how you want the story to go.
Email Chris Burek at firstname.lastname@example.org