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A small, surly gnome

Posted by on October 3, 2003

Written in response to this article, which really should be read first.

Will teens stop using electricity?

I first heard about using my parents’ electricity in middle school. Up until that point, I had assumed that my television and toaster were being run by a small, surly gnome that lived in the wall. But in sixth grade one of my friends, who also frequently used his parents’ electricity, explained the process to me. It turned out that pretty much all the kids I knew were using their parents’ electricity on a regular basis.

At first it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. But I soon realized that using my parents’ electricity was addictive. In fact, electricity was an electronics-addict’s heaven. With electricity, you could do anything from turning on a light in your house to turning on all the lights in your house, whenever you wanted.

At first, it seemed that using my parents’ electricity wasn’t a problem. My peers had grown up using their parents’ electricity and had never been forced to read by candlelight or wash their clothes on a rock in the stream. Because it is so prevalent, it seemed natural to me that it would also be free.

But it shouldn’t be free. Nothing should be free, ever. And parents are beginning to fight back, by nagging their kids all the time to turn off the lights they’re not using. Among the targets of this nagging was a 12-year-old girl.

This is not the way to solve the problem. While I agree it is important to protect your parents from declaring bankruptcy due to crippling electric bills, I am afraid that the threatening message that parents are sending to teenagers will not achieve its goals. Worse, the threat is counterproductive.

Rather than following the demands of their parents, teens simply will stop using electricity altogether. They will begin building small fires in their bedrooms to toast their pop-tarts over, and they will probably build some kind of cranking device to run their computers on; I don’t know, something. Although nagging isn’t life-threatening or really even a big deal, it’s still annoying — too annoying to put up with, that’s for sure.

Despite the fact that parents are willing to permit teens to use electricity in exchange for being nagged about it, parents do not understand that if you are going to be nagged then you might as well just get your own damn apartment and pay for the electricity yourself. If parents would quit nagging all the damn time, maybe we would have some time to turn off the damn lights, we were just about to do it, jeez.

Wishful thinking? Hardly. Some single parents who are working two jobs have reduced their nagging to only twice a week. And I may some day find a parent who only nags once a semester.

Although this idea sounds different, it is certainly feasible. Who knows?:

When my parents lighten the fuck up, I might finally turn the lights back on and quit banging my shins against my desk chair all the damn time.

Didofoot, 23, is sophomoric at SF State.

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