ralph strangis

The Great Tragedy of St. Elmo’s Fire

dallasnews.com/Columbia Pictures

dallasnews.com/Columbia Pictures

I knew Ralph Strangis in only the loosest since of the word. Perhaps it’s better to say that I knew of him through his work as the very good play-by-play voice of the Dallas Stars. As someone who didn’t grow up with hockey, I always enjoyed listening to Strangis and his broadcast partner, Daryl “Razor” Reaugh. They made hockey accessible to me, and I’m sure hundreds of thousands of others.

But who knew that Strangis was a terrific social commentator? Not me, for sure. But he is.

Strangis recently published “The Great Tragedy of St. Elmo’s Fire” in the Dallas Morning News. It’s a wonderful, thoughtful piece.

St. Elmo’s Fire, for you young people, is a coming-of-age movie for those of us who grew up in the 1980s. While it doesn’t seem that long ago, it was, and Strangis clearly and poignantly communicates that. Strangis writes:

I notice things that just wouldn’t happen today. Jules sits in a bar stirring her drink with a plastic straw, thinking about her life. Kevin and Kirby have a long exchange in their apartment about life and love. Billy is uninterrupted when he swoops in with the makeshift blowtorch to rescue Jules from her self-imposed drama.

I am reminded of a time where the daily human experience was not hijacked by a handheld device.

There was a time when we sat, talked, and thought. Now, we are “handcuffed” to our handheld digital devices. I’ve read articles about how to unplug from work during your summer vacation, forced by the expectation–implicit or explicit–that we’re all on call, 24/7. Couldn’t we all use a digital detox?

Strangis suggests that the technology controls us; we don’t control it. When it bings, whistles, or beeps, we grab it and respond. We line up for the newest and shiniest new iteration of a device. Strangis suggests that by doing so, we’re treating ourselves poorly. We line our minds with trivia and status updates and arrogance instead of sitting down, listening, and reflecting.

This is a must read for many of us. Maybe after reading it, we can talk with someone about it? Or do what I’m doing, blogging about it and then posting a status update.