How did we spend our time 30 years ago?
How did we spend our time 30 years ago?
Sometimes we just get an idea and run with it. I had this thought moments ago, and said to myself, “what did I do with my time 30, 35 or 40 years ago?” Without all these things that all consume our time in 2019?
It’s an interesting – as well as bothersome and difficult thought-path to go down, quite frankly.
Because much of who we are today – is quite different than who we were when we were younger and much less informed (and society was different). People always grow and change over time – but how has modern communication affected that change?
Age and experience changes people profoundly
When we were “young” (we still feel very vibrant and young, by the way), we essentially didn’t know much compared to today.
There was much less “truth” to be found. Whatever (real) truths there were, were much harder to find, and far less frequent.
You had what the world made commonly available.
And by that, I mean “mainstream” things.
When I (try to) think about exactly what I did on a given day when I was three decades younger – it’s not easy to recall. Even what a typical day might have been like. Or what exact thoughts occupied our minds daily. I almost wish we had kept a journal.
I can remember certain aspects of what consumed our time – but very little of what our thought process was, and what consumed our time for those “in-between moments.” It takes quite a bit of quiet contemplation and reflection to bring that back to the present.
Much of what we did yesterday was similar today (but via different methods)
Below are some honest aspects of what we did a long time ago. This is a stream of thought, so bear with me.
- Consumerism: I recall spending much of my time “wanting” things. New equipment (like CD players, BB guns, parts for my Jeep Wrangler, music, etc.) Perusing catalogs from places such as Radio Shack, J.C. Whitney, or Sears was common. There was always something “nifty” that I wanted (but could not afford). We dreamt of having them. As if it would make us better people, more accepted, envied. In other words, we were somehow groomed to be perfect little consumers. And the reckless spending we did – and how we found the means to an end is a little embarrassing in hindsight.
- Media Consumption: Three decades ago, we were pretty big sports fans. Primarily baseball (NY Yankees) and Basketball (NY Knicks). Back then, NFL Football was not our thing for whatever reason. But the daily newspapers like the NY Daily News was part of our ritual. Particularly the stats pages. We also were slaves to the “clock,” as certain TV programs (like our favorites – The A-Team, Airwolf, Knight Rider, etc.) were only on at certain times and days of the week. People gathered around the idiot box. Every day of the week. And we even had fights if people wanted to watch two different shows at the same time. Insane, right? We also attended the movie theater regularly for a period of time.
- Video games: In those days, you had Nintendo, Atari, Intellivision, etc. I often parlayed certain video sports games with my professional sports watching. Imagining and fantasizing along with it. We had video games from before the first Atari – all the way up to the first Xbox. The Nintendo Wii was the last console we ever owned. All other “games” after that were reserved to what we had – or PC games.
- Magazines: Looking back, I’d have to say that periodicals like video game magazines, gun magazines, and other propaganda and marketing played a huge role in what consumed our time. It bothers me today, in fact. Like a useless carrot dangled in front of us. I was in a perpetual state of “wanting” something new. I’d often read a magazine or catalog so much, that I’d literally wear it out. “Dreams” of something I wanted, couldn’t afford, and certainly did not need. That doesn’t mean that the experience was worthless, however.
- Computers: We’ve been “computing” since the first IBM PC in the early ’80s. Taught ourselves MS-DOS. We used telephone modems (300, 1200 baud) to dial into “BBS boards.” A whole new world that you spent a ton of time tinkering with for very little real consumption. Also “AOL,” Prodigy, and all the other early tech that has come and gone. It was common to have big difficulty “getting online” due to the constant “busy signals.” Today’s people would panic themselves to death if they were offline for such long periods.
But not everything was about consumption or consumerism by far. We did many other things that, quite frankly, you see much less of today.
- Outside activity: Our backyard had a basketball hoop. One thing we did for many years, was “shoot hoops.” Everything from playing “21,” to a little “one on one,” to just playing by yourself. That said, I, unfortunately, “mirrored” the professional sports figures I saw on TV much of the time. I’d often shout “PATRICK EWING” in the Marv Albert voice when I made a good shot. I had false idols. But we also rode our bikes a ton with no real purpose, “adventured” through neighbors properties, and did “dangerous” stuff like play with firecrackers and sling-shots. Much more free-range than you might suspect. Just with a hook in us from big businesses.
- Bars, social scenes, hanging out (when we were old enough to drink): It wasn’t uncommon to go out for drinks and drive home. Happy hour after work happened often. It also wasn’t uncommon to meet and mingle organically – with no tech in hand. No cyber-stalking. Just a phone number and your personality. Meeting people was done in person, and with your eyes and ears. The last 20 years, real-life social scenes have degraded tremendously.
- Free-form activities: Getting a game of catch at the park. Hitting a crate of baseballs. Riding your bike aimlessly to see what you can discover. All done without the aid of organized leagues, teams, and apps.
The same concept – just a different methodology
The more we think back, the more we realize that consumerism still had a very firm grip on society (at least us). It just happens now in different ways. Probably more sinister.
The internet has been an instrumental change – in both good and bad ways. Maybe it’s just expanded everything. The labyrinth is just larger and much more complex. Think of it the way video games evolved into a mega large world with millions of people interacting, versus the simpler games in the beginning. Or a small-town city compared to New York. Or how now everyone takes photos of practically everything! Very much the same – just amplified, with more “dark corners” and “time-wasters” to evade.
In other ways, the internet was once a great “expansion” of the mind, as well as a new frontier for discovery – especially when it was only occupied by “propeller-heads.” Today it’s infiltrated with billion-dollar companies who want to shut down that “wild west” type of freedom into a controlled, draconian-like landscape. And of course, every idiotic moron has effortless internet access. Letting the dregs of society in your club always ruins things.
The psychologists and human researchers have a leg up on the rest of us, and still, possess skills to manipulate and coerce (with the help of a troubled monetary system and class division.)
Some say that longing for the “good ‘ole days” is a recipe for failure. And that may be true in some aspects – can’t deny that. However, you need to hang on to the good, or they’ll be forgotten (“memory holed” is the modern term).
Unplugging is good for the mind and soul
We’re of the belief that this “new frontier” society is on is something to be leery of.
It’s unproven (especially long-term), and we feel that the effect it’s having on the human mind should be a cause of concern. Just look at much of the younger generation (who at least grew up knowing ONLY modern tech). They’re painfully inept at so many “basic” things like common sense, simple math, situational awareness, and interpersonal communication skills. That should be a warning sign that our new things need to be carefully observed before being unconditionally accepted.
Hype is also another aspect that has always affected society. “Pop-culture.” Just today it’s many smaller hype camps instead of just a few big ones. We feel that hype is more powerful overall than ever.
But what concerns us the most – is the amount of “screen time” people have (across all age groups and demographics). The modern phone has literally captivated the world.
When nearly every passenger in a car we pass by is on the phone (and frighteningly often the DRIVER as well!), it is a reason for alarm. What happened to just observing and looking around? How can that have zero value now? We don’t think it doesn’t.
We wonder what is happening to the collective human brain when everyone uses their phone as a crutch, appendage, or automatic reflex. “Googling” your life is the real recipe for disaster. And who is to blame?
This is exactly why we purposely live life today almost entirely unplugged (except for home PC use and blog writing).
We want to preserve our brains.
Footnote: You can never stop learning or growing
To quote my favorite aphorism author Mokokoma Mokohoana:
“A single person cannot even know a billionth of what is known, which is not even a trillionth of what there is to know.”
Getting older and learning is a non-stop process. Until you stop living. You can gain insight and knowledge up until your very last breath. No human on earth can ever know it all. Not even a single percentage point of what there is to know. In fact, no human can ever even know what there is that they DON’T know! It’s an insane concept!
And each of us goes off on a “trajectory” of some kind. The path you take in life. Whether it’s motorcycles, or fitness, or religion, or just being some kind of superficial “e-girl.” Those paths people take make them semi-experts in some things, but ignorant of almost all others.
Don’t forget to recognize the Polymaths you might encounter. They’re valuable people to know. Especially in today’s day and age.