109 Kids But Not Really Kids

Tucker MIlwrath

This isn’t an example from the PSU community, but it’s from my community so I think it counts.

I assume we all remember what it was like being kids in the early 2000s; bikes, street lights signaling it’s time to go home, cartoons in the morning on weekends, a gameboy or something (leapfrog?), coloring books, and not staring at a phone all the time. Recently, I went to my brother’s high school volleyball game and while the environment was familiar, what the little siblings of high schooler’s were doing was pretty foreign. Instead of sitting there or trying to run around on the court or coloring, a lot of these elementary school aged kids were sitting there glued to a tablet or a phone. Looking at these kids, this different breed of kids, reminded me of the uncanny.

Like I already mentioned, we were all kids but not this kind. Sure, I was sucked into a screen whenever there was a Tom & Jerry marathon but, out in public, we didn’t have the means. Looking back at it, I think the uncanny bit of my observation is how much they remind me of me at my current age. As a kid I wasn’t glued to a screen as often as possible but I am now. The same is true for this 10-year-old except he can look at a screen from whatever ungodly hour he wakes up to his 8:30 p.m bedtime.

In “The Uncanny,” Freud writes that “…everything that now strikes us as ‘uncanny’ fulfills the condition of stirring these vestiges of animistic mental activity within us and bringing them to expression,” (429). The key word in this quote is “vestige.” It means a trace of something that either doesn’t exist anymore or is slowly disappearing. And while this is a very old person thing to say, I think that kids, like we were anyways, are disappearing. Looking at a screen all day is something that I always pictured some unhappy adult doing in a bland cubicle; picture Mr. Incredible working at an insurance company.  But now it’s something that anyone and everyone does and usually, they are happy to do it.

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This uncanny observation really made me think. I’m sure we’ve all heard an older person say that kids aren’t doing kid things anymore and after seeing those tiny humans stare at a screen at that volleyball game, I am tempted to agree. Freud says that the uncanny is something that is familiar but still odd (I’m paraphrasing) because it stirs something inside of yourself that you didn’t really know was there. Now that I know, I believe that this experience has strengthened my understanding of the uncanny as well as Freud’s theory.


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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Tucker MIlwrath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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