In today’s lessons from movies, we’re taking a look at WALL-E. I have maybe seen the movie in its entirety 2 or 3 times, and that’s including the time I just watched it with my boys. But I admit that recently watching it again, I was surprised how much of the movie I vividly remembered. This was particularly surprising when I realized it was released in 2008 (what?!) and despite being nearly 12 years old, the lessons it shares are incredibly accurate for our world today.
Here are the three lessons that resonated with me the most.
Lesson 1: The Earth needs a break. As explained on the WALL-E Wikipedia page, “In the 29th century, rampant consumerism and environmental neglect have turned Earth into a garbage-strewn wasteland.” Sound familiar?
The Takeaway: As humans, we are notoriously bad at recognizing our impact on those around us. Whether it’s other people, places or things, our impact is so much more far reaching than we could possibly imagine.
The Communication: This is a great discussion point for your kids – especially with Earth Day just a few weeks ago – to highlight the importance of taking care of our environment. We talked about the impact we have on the environment on The Leading Edge not long ago as it relates to COVID-19, and since then, we’ve seen a continued number of stories and pictures emerge as the Earth seems to be healing from our harsh way of living. Understanding how to recognize your impact on others – whether people, places or things – can make a big difference in the words you choose when you’re expressing frustration with another. The cars you choose to drive. The intentional decision to recycle or throw something away. The effort you make in the relationships with those around you. Be aware of yourself enough to recognize when something you may do or say could negatively impact those or the world around you.
Lesson 2: Reliance on technology – In the movie, after everyone was evacuated from Earth, they become lazy and helpless, unable to do the most basic things due to their increasing reliance on machines to do it for them.
The Takeaway: Technology is amazing. It can do so many wonderful things and has allowed for incredible advances, like the ability for so many of us to work from home during this pandemic. But if it’s not managed, if technology is leaned on too much, it becomes a crutch we can’t walk without.
The Communication: Though technology can let us do so many wonderful things, using it too much can actually cause more harm than good. Remember the wisdom of the ancient philosophers, “Nothing too much.” Watching TV too much or playing too many video games can damage your eyes and impact your brain. Using a laptop or tablet from your favorite place in the house may be appealing for a while, but soon you’ll start to notice parts of your body getting tight and uncomfortable, most likely because you’re not sitting correctly. Like everything, technology is great when managed but can create challenges and unhealthy behaviors when left unmanaged. Learning how to use technology as a supporting item, and not relying on it for survival, is a tough transition to make, but possible. Start small, like putting the phones away during dinner. Retrain your brain to think on its own instead of relying on your virtual assistant to do all your thinking for you. Manage your technology the way you manage your eating: use it well and have a treat every now and then.
Lesson 3: Stay curious. Be positive. – Despite the fact that WALL-E is the last surviving robot on Earth tasked with cleaning up the mess, he still continues to wake up and do his job every day. He takes new items he discovers that intrigue him back to his “home” and gets excited about finding new things. He’s also incredibly curious, which shows his eagerness to continue to learn new things.
The Takeaway: Life is what it is. In every challenge there is always an opportunity – or three or four. But it’s what you do with what you’re given that makes the difference.
The Communication: Consider how you can shift your mindset to see the good in whatever life has to share with you. For example, think about the current quarantine we’re in. Do you see it as being stuck at home? Or do you see it as being safe at home? Same event, different perspective. Recognize how a mindset shift to see things in a positive way can change the entire experience.
WALL-E is about being self-aware (knowing your strengths, passions, liabilities and triggers) so you can be self-managed. This is how you ensure you’re managing your impact on the people, places and things around you. This is how you create a positive approach to life, allowing you to see the good in every moment, even when things seem particularly challenging.
Consider reading The Lessons You Find in Movies: Frozen 2