Thursday, November 29, 2007

In my day...

Yeah, it's one of those posts. However, let me preface by saying that, generally speaking, I do not think that life was better ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. Today's computers are more user-friendly, our medicines more effective, and loads of other stuff I'll not bother to mention but which you can fill in for yourself. However, I think in a few areas we were better off, say, twenty-five years ago, than we are now. Here they are:

News: Back in '82, the news was on in the morning, at noon, at dinnertime and late at night. If something happened at 3pm...well, you waited a few hours to find out about it. (Unless it was really momentous, when networks would interrupt programming to tell you about it.) Today you can get news in six zillion ways and at all hours of the day, and you can even enable RSS feeds on various topics so that you'll never, ever miss the latest updates on whatever topic you've chosen. Call me curmudgeonly (Curmudgeon! Curmudgeon!), but I think this created a society of fear. Because reports of every happening everywhere in the world is available to any joker with Web access, we've developed perceptions of risk far out of proportion to actual threats. A child was abducted in and lock yours in a room! This is what brought us Megan's Laws and other fear-motivated but ultimately useless public policies.

Communication: If you were alive in 1982, you remember the days when you got phone calls in one place: home. If you weren't there, you didn't get the call. Hell, most people didn't even have answering machines! These days, with cell phones and Blackberrys and who knows what else, you're on call 24-7. No matter where people are or what they're doing, they're ready, willing and able to answer the burning cell-phone question "Where are you?" Cell phones ring in movie theaters, restaurants, concerts, operas, courtrooms...I once had a date (a first date, mind you) in which the gentleman took a call and stayed on the phone for five minutes. (I didn't put out on that date, if you're wondering, and I always put out. That's how mad I was.) There's something quintessentially rude about the way cell phones are used, and it's coarsened our society, not to mention made our roads more dangerous with drivers who think they're better at multitasking than they actually are.

Entertainment: In that golden yesteryear of 1982, you had six channels; seven, if you counted PBS. Now you have seven hundred thousand, and most of what you'll find on them is utter crap. Most theaters had one screen; today, they can have more than twenty. They say competition improves, but that certainly has not been the case with media explosion. Do you think a movie like "Taxi Driver" would be made today? Would you expect "All In The Family" to make its way into today's television programming? The intensity of competition has really just prodded producers to aim at the lowest common denominator, so as to gather the biggest possible audience. That means dumbing down the content, and after years of being treated like it's stupid, the American public has lowered itself admirably to the occasion. That's why "American Pie" had two sequels.

Again, I don't pretend that 1982 was some kind of golden age; it wasn't, and I am glad we are here and not there. But not everything we've gained has been a boon. I also realize that the things I listed have been negative not because of any inherent factor but because of misuse. It's my blog, tho, so I get to bitch.


Blogger Anju said...

In 1982, 'tho' was spelled 'though.' Yes, some things were better back then. :P

3:46 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I definitely agree about there being a heck of a lot more of less when it comes to news and entertainment. There's so much, and so little of it is worthwhile!

Another thing that I think was better back then is that there was much less advertising. There were no ads or commercials before movies at the theater, stadiums had no corporate sponsors in their names. Television shows had an end theme and you could read the credits unmolested. Today it's information overload for everyone!

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1982, the federal agents in E.T. had guns instead of walkie talkies.


10:28 AM  

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