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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

The ambivalence of light

Sat, 09 Nov 2019 10:07:00 +0000 Published in Las Provincias and Alto Aragón Newspaper


Ambivalent is what can have two different values or be interpreted in two different ways. This is what happens with the word light. Applied to beverages, it is a good for health; for example, decaffeinated coffee and non-alcoholic beer. Applied to human beings, it means an inconsistent and superficial person, with merely spontaneous, non-reflective behavior. Interestingly, these two applications are coeval.

The term 'light' was born to designate a new 'culture' that emerged in 1980 in the USA. Initially it was related to 'jogging' and the gym, but when applied to human life, a vital model arises in which the essence of things is irrelevant.

"The light man (woman) is interested in everything, but in an epidermal tone (...). He is a trivial subject, with little consistency, frivolous, who accepts everything, but without having solid criteria in his behavior. He is a product of his time: weak thinking, permissive criteria, aseptic in his commitments. His ideology is pragmatism. His rule of conduct, what is fashionable, what is in vogue. Its ethics is based on statistics, a substitute for conscience". (Enrique Rojas, in ABC, 1990)
The 'light' man arises from a society characterized by a 'light' culture, which promotes people without referents and with a moral void. This 'culture' is, in reality, a subculture.

Authentic culture is inner cultivation. It consists in knowing, and not simply in being aware of something. Subculture, on the other hand, does not consist in knowing, since it is not interested in the truth of what is real, the truth of being, but in the truth that is desired, that is desired or that is convenient. It does not move man (woman) to a better life, but to a better living. In the best of cases, it is reduced to a technical culture, concerned only with doing.
All this is closely related to the current mythification of spontaneous behavior, which is presented as "sincere" and "natural", to the detriment of thoughtful behavior, which would be insincere and artificial. Spontaneity is thus elevated to the category of a value. subject In the name of spontaneity, the aim is to justify any excess or bad behavior: "I did it because it was the first thing that occurred to me, unlike others, who are not sincere". Spontaneous behavior is impulsive and thoughtless, so it does not allow finding solutions to the problems that arise. Why, despite this disadvantage, it continues to be idealized by many adolescents One reason is that at that age, feeling predominates over reason; another is because they tend to believe that the non-spontaneous hinders creativity.

The mythification of spontaneous behavior leads children to be less responsible, and their parents to permissiveness educational and tolerance without limits. Experience says that children and adolescents are not, spontaneously, what they should be; it is necessary to intervene in their lives.

Without this intervention of the educators - in the form of demand, guidance and committee- children tend to remain lazy, capricious and selfish. Spoiled children are those who later become, lacking consistency, passive subjects of opinion and fashions in the field of values.
The 'light' man is a reflection of the loss of values typical of the relativistic and permissive society, from which some families are not exempt, by contagion. In the 'light' family there is an abuse of audiovisual technology (internet, computer, tablet and mobile for each member of the family) which makes them live isolated from each other; the few books that exist have only a decorative function; the possible time for reading is dedicated to watching television; there are no principles or stable convictions in the children's Education .

Marcelo Colussi affirms that the 'light' culture is the result of a set of pseudo-ideological currents that feed back on each other: relativism, permissiveness, facism and compulsive consumerism. It is characterized by extreme individualism, the search for immediate satisfaction, lack of depth in the treatment of any topic, lack of commitment and banality. To this is added a cult of appearances. Others are judged not by what they are, but by the way they are dressed or by the car they own.

The basic support of this culture of the banal may be audiovisual media and social networks, while the real culture is in good books. To read or not to read, that is the question.