My mother was a kid in the 1950s. She lived with her divorced mom and felt self-conscious about not having a dad around. She was considered fat and as an adult she was always following the latest fad diets. She knew some neighbors but nowadays she knows even more and feels safer than ever. Her biggest fear as a kid was being kidnapped, she had some incident with a guy asking her to find his lost puppy. She was born around the time WWII was ending, a little before the first nuclear bomb was detonated over a city full of people. She saw the end of laws that specifically persecuted the descendants of slaves, although it didn’t really mean much to her. When she was a young adult her peers were being drafted into a war they didn’t support. A president during her young-adulthood was assassinated in office and a later one was disgraced out of office.
I find it strange whenever I hear people claiming things were better in the past. I wouldn’t trade the Internet era for any time in recent history. When I grew up, my biggest aggravation was the unrepentant reruns the TV would air, especially compiled clip-shows of the current season’s episodes. Being the 80s, I did consider global thermo-nuclear war a viable threat too.
When people complain about social media, I find it odd. My childhood consisted mostly of sitting alone in my house watching TV reruns. Calling someone on their house-phone was torture, as anyone could answer, or it could be a busy-signal, or the person wasn’t home — it was inconvenience-cubed. I like the connectedness of today, the new content, I like watching shows whenever I want. And when I was a kid, I just assumed I hated music because I disliked what the radio played — it turns out I like music now that I can select what I want to hear.
When I wanted a specific book, I had to ask the bookstore to order it for me and then wait until they called. When I ordered stuff from a catalog (toys, trinkets, clothes, whatever), I tore out the order-form, meticulously filled it in, mailed it along with my mother’s check, then waited three weeks until the check cleared and the item arrived in the mail. When I missed an episode of my favorite show I waited weeks until it aired again as a rerun. When I wanted to watch a movie I had to go to the movie theater to watch it, that is until video rentals became a thing, then I could choose from a selection of crappy movies because that’s all they had in stock.
I love mobile-phones. When I was a kid, you just showed up hoping other people would be there. If you had the wrong time and your mom dropped you off, you were outta luck. Incessant waiting without knowing was a thing. It was nerve-wracking, what if no one came, what if I had the wrong date, I’d be stuck.
When I thought of cities when I was a kid, I pictured violent crime, gangs, graffiti, vandalism, riots, pollution. When I think of cities today I picture culinary adventures, tech hubs, gentrification, and hipsters. When I thought of Europe as a kid, I thought of spies and cold-war stuff, iron-curtains and oppressed peoples, hijackings, bombings, post-war aftermath, and bad food. Nowadays when I think of Europe I picture modern well-taken-care-of citizens in charming old-world settings. When I thought of nature, I pictured endless litter and toxic dumping. Nowadays I picture beautiful beaches and well-maintained woods.
In my opinion anyway, this is the best it’s been (there’s even robots on Mars!) — screw the haters that say otherwise.