I probably won’t ever get the TikTok app. From everything I’ve heard about it, I’m too old. It is to social media what “Catcher in the Rye” is to books: I’m not in that audience. I’m not in the demographic anymore. I was also not in the demographic for Thomas Mann’s “Tonio Kröger,” even when I was supposed to be in the demographic. But I digress.
The state of Utah has passed bills to restrict young people’s access to TikTok. It wants to keep kids away from TikTok if they’re under 18 unless their parents or guardians explicitly give permission. In the case that they do, they would be required to monitor the kids’ use of the app. There’d be a default curfew: no TikTok for kids between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. The parents could modify that to some degree, but I can’t find details on it.
The bills don’t make a lot of sense. They require social media providers to identify responsible parents but don’t say how that should happen. What if the kid is in a shared custody arrangement? Do permissions change on alternate weeks?
It strikes me as a shame that an app that seems ideal for teenagers should be so restricted. What do they want kids to do instead? Do like we did when we old folks were kids — get high and go cruising in hot rods? It seems like Utah hasn’t worked through all the ramifications of these laws. I mean, really, does Utah want to bring back sock hops and everything sordid that comes with sock hops? Or is Utah going to make chaperones mandatory? I guess that question answers itself.
I think Utah should have found a better solution: Lure the kids into healthy offline activities by providing a lot of free pizza. Use the carrot, not the stick.
In local news actually affecting me, Sound Transit’s board is leaning toward not building the proposed light rail station on Fourth Avenue South in the Chinatown-International District (CID) and instead going with two stations: one north of the CID and one south of it. Since I live in the CID, I have a lot of questions and mixed feelings. I’m glad there won’t be the massive disruption of traffic that would have happened with the Fourth Avenue South station, but I don’t know yet how the two new stations will be integrated with the existing International District Station. Will I have to walk five blocks or more to catch a light rail train to West Seattle when all is said and done?
Since we’re talking years from now, I guess this is just another case where I’m not in the right demographic.
Seriously, why would I need to go to West Seattle again anyway?
OK, I still like to hang out around Alki. I can get there by water taxi. Alki is a favorite place for me because it was where I was taken cruising after my neighbor friend got his Pontiac GTO. Good times. Fish and chips. Unchaperoned, not that it mattered. It wasn’t like “American Graffiti,” with girls jumping in and out of the car all the time.
Speaking of grand adventures, there was some interesting space news this week. For one thing, a rival company to SpaceX called Relativity Space almost succeeded in getting a 3D-printed rocket into orbit.
I like the sound of that idea, 3D-printed rockets. Why didn’t I ever think of that? Well, I did, but I thought 3D rockets would be assembled in free fall, in orbit already. I didn’t think they’d be fired off from Earth. Now where’s my 3D-printed flying car?
If we can build a 3D-printed rocket and get it into Earth’s orbit, why heck, the ground’s the limit. We can 3D print cars, motorcycles and baby carriages. We could 3D print coffee mugs, ash trays and toasters. We should be able to 3D print cans of chicken noodle soup. It’s not rocket science. It’s soup. I think we can all agree on that.
In other space-related news, CNN reports on a company that is developing “food pods” that could be used to create “vertical food-growing systems” to supply Martian colonists with food for at least two years. The vertically grown food would include edible insects.
I’m for it, but I really hope pizza can be produced.
Read more of the Mar. 29-April 4, 2023 issue.