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Thursday, 28 March 2013

I know the youngsters out there will roll their eyes at this post, but it has to be said.  Things are markedly different from back in the 70s (and, to be honest, the 1980s as well).  I could easily make this a top 1,000 list and only scratch the surface, things have changed so much; however, we'll keep it  short and sweet, and in no particular order.  So, here goes...

1. Activism

We all have our opinions, but there's a deep and abiding reality that they don't really matter anymore.  The elected in DC are on the take and the populace are just spectators.  Political activism will be tolerated to an extent, but ignored.  The feeling that you can "make a difference" is gone, and in its place is an unhealthy cynicism.  Worse even, activists are often mocked and derided by the media and the brainwashed masses are only too quick to follow their lead.

2. Driving

We traveled the country with nary a seat belt.  We sat in the floorboard, on the emergency brake, and on our mother's laps.  Car seats for children was unheard of. Yet, cars back then were actually made out of metal.  Our minivan (a Nissan Quest) I swear has more plastic than it does metal.   We're buckled up, but we're riding in a plastic envelope!

3. Music

Albums have been replaced by audio Twinkies - a few singles to shill on iTunes and giveaway at Wal-Mart.  The days when a band like Steely Dan could spend an entire year on a record are over. Musicianship is not even an afterthought - it's simply a barrage of hype and then move on to the next new flavor.  And the Clear Channel airwaves are about as homogenized as they can possibly be.

4. Movies

Not that you have to take out a second mortgage to go see a movie nowadays, it has changed the face of the industry.  With tickets so expensive audiences expect a big-time extravaganza, and thus the movie budget gets inflated.... and subsequently producers are less likely to take risks with that kind of cash on the line.

The result - nothing really innovative gets made by the big studios, and low budget grindhouse fare simply has no place anymore.  It was okay to see a crummy B-movie when it only cost a buck.

5. Sex

I've said it a million times - a generation as massive as the Boomers all simultaneously reaching their sexual prime could only result in something like a sexual revolution.  Unfortunately, all this libidinal liberation had its consequence - a major cultural backlash and STD epidemics.

Thus, today you have this sort of troubling duality where there is exists a hypersexuality beyond that of the seventies (porn profits are exponentially higher and sex among minors is far more common); yet it is simultaneously maligned, ignored and denied.  For instance, you would be shamed by your peers for being caught standing in line at a burlesque club, yet Pay-Per-View porn is a multi-billion dollar business.

6. Global Positioning

I honestly don't think anyone gets lost anymore.  It sounds trivial, but getting lost, finding your way, asking for directions, serendipitous discoveries, crumpled maps and hidden shortcuts were a part of life that just went POOF!

7. Shopping

Not only can get anything your little heart desires at the local megastore, you can also find it with a few clicks of a mouse.  Need a USB cable, a fanny pack, heartworm medicine and some prescription lenses?  No need to travel to four different independently owned shops - just go to Wal-Mart..... or better yet, don't leave your couch.  Do it from your iPad.

Of course this means your local establishments get crushed by the megastores, but now you'll have more time to..... to...... to buy more stuff!

8. Playtime

Kids need time to play, explore, rough-house, and discover their world together without adult intervention.  Unfortunately, it's all about "play dates' these days.  Thankfully, my kids have a neighborhood where they can roam with their friends, but I see far too many communities that are dead zones - any playtime will have to be strictly monitored and arranged.  It's too "unstructured" and too "unsafe" to leave kids to their own devices.

9. Fashion

There's been a few distinctive styles of late (baggy jeans, hip huggers); but dominant trademark fashions are largely things of the past. The difference between fashions of 1975 and 1985 is gigantic; the difference between fashions of 2003 and 2013 is microscopic.  I wrote a whole post on this.

10. Homework

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I did homework in middle school.  Nowadays, kids in first grade are burning the midnight oil.  Yet with a thousand percent increase in homework, are our kids any smarter? My theory is that parents demand it - they measure the worth of an education by the volume of homework.   Homework in moderation is fine, but drowning our students in it is as misdirected as it is pointless.  We need true depth of understanding, not piles of busywork.

11. Gender Equality

Women got what they wanted: an equal opportunity to join in the rat race. Sure, men still get paid substantially more on average for the same work; but females can toil, sweat, and stress their way to an early grave just like men now.

Even better, they don't have to endure men holding doors open for them or offering to help them in any way.  They won't have to put up with men acknowledging their attractiveness publicly.  Plus, they can enjoy the new economy built around two income homes; so, even if she doesn't want to work she now has to.  Hooray!

12. Television

In the 1970s, homes had only one TV and on that TV were a whopping three to four channels.  Now, it's common for homes to have televisions in all the bedrooms in addition to the living room.  Plus you have tablets, PCs and phones to watch television on.... each with hundreds of channels and premium services like Netflix instant, Hulu, and other on-demand stations. If our government wanted their population distracted, they got it.

13. The Environment

Things got pretty polluted and unkempt during the seventies.  It's hard to explain, but cities and towns just started to look "dirty".  Yet, with an ever increasing rate of urban sprawl, it's getting hard to find find untouched land.  The hippie mentality of preserving it at all costs is ridiculed by the media ("tree huggers") and is bad business for short term minded corporations. 

We all have memories of large strips of land that are now Wal-Marts or Hyundai plants or Hampton Inns or TGI Fridays or [insert business name here].  I'd love to say all this development makes for a strong upwardly mobile economy, but the US is flat broke and deep in debt.

14. Food

Pretty much everything you eat is now made of corn.  Subsequently, it's a helluva lot cheaper but the price is paid in ways other than by your pocketbook.  The American diet has no variety and the portion sizes are enormous.  We have food ready to be stuffed into our mouths at every corner - there's a McDonald's always at your fingertips, and big vats of high fructose corn syrup always within arms reach.  We are well fed these days; unfortunately, we are fed on homogenous, synthetic, genetically altered, hormone infused, corn based garbage.

15. Health Care

Perhaps the biggest mess of them all, and a ticking time bomb.  Health care has gotten insanely expensive, and insurance coverage unaffordable to millions.  If you work at minimum wage you'll toil most of the month just to pay your insurance premiums.... yet when you buy meds or visit the doc, there's still more bills to pay.

Add to that, Americans are being pumped full of prescriptions at an alarming rate.  It's making bacterial strains resistant and the population dependent on pharmaceutical companies.  Can you even a imagine a world where doctors made house calls? It's laughable.  Yet, when doctors stop giving such personal and attentive care and just start doling out pharmaceuticals, bad things are bound to follow.

So, there's a lot of things that have changed from back then. I could certainly rant all day on the topic, but I'll reserve that crankiness for another post.  Toodles.


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