Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Model Citizen

When I was growing up as a kid, we built models.  You would beg your parents to take you to the toy or hobby shop, and buy a model kit.  You might have saved up your money, to buy the model with your own money. If you were into model making, you had all of the tools, the paints, the glue and everything that was needed to set up your workshop at home.

You had to buy the model kits.  You had to read the instructions, and assemble the model pieces in just the right sequence.  You had to wait for the glue to dry, so in some cases, you had to stop and wait for the next day to move on to the next step. Once the model was finished, you would then paint it.  You could always tell a lot about the kid by studying the models that they built.

Did they follow the instructions?  Did they have attention to detail? Did they have enough patience to let the glue dry, before moving on to the next step?  Some kids built models that looked like they could be on display at the Smithsonian.  Some looked like they were not completely finished or not even painted (and yet there they were, on display).

The only reward that one would receive from making the model was the sense of pride of putting on display the final product. Kids did not get paid for building the models. Some kids had dozens of models proudly on display in their bedrooms – model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, model cars and rockets on the bookshelf.  My favorites were the “Monsters of Film Land” and I had them all.
Kids don’t make models today. They don’t have the patience.  They would never think of having to wait to “let the glue dry” to move on to the next step.  Kids today do not take the time to build anything, especially something that can only be put on display in the privacy of their bedrooms.  Yes indeed, you could tell a great deal about the person who made the model.

Today, the Internet has replaced the model kits.  Kids today have no time to wait for anything like allowing the glue to dry. They need immediate satisfaction, and they need to post it on YouTube – right this minute.  Their cameras on their cell phones have replaced their model paints.  Kids today also take “creative credit” for simply forwarding a video made by someone else, as if they were the creative genius behind the work.  In today’s Facebook world, simply forwarding a funny joke or posting a viral video is just as good as creating the work yourself – you get the same credit as if you did it all on your own.

I miss my youthful days of building model rockets, and taking them to the park to launch them.  There is something clearly missing in today’s fast-paced world, and I think it is as simple as having the dining room table covered in newspapers, with paint and plastic model parts ready to be transformed into art.

The world needs more model citizens, and I am afraid that our kids today will never experience the satisfaction of a good old fashioned project completed “on time and on budget”. I know this – I will be starting to ask this question when interviewing new candidates for MTP:

“Did you build models when you were a kid?”

I will look to see the expression on their face as they tell me about their favorites. That will tell me everything that I need to know. 

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