Those Were The Days, My Friends…

I’ve written about this topic to some degree before, but somehow it just keeps coming back. 

Kids have no idea…

The changes that have occurred in my lifetime are pretty amazing and yet my kids take all of the advances that have occurred for granted.

No, I didn’t walk 20 miles/kilometres through a snowstorm to get to school.

No, I didn’t have to wash my clothes over a washboard in the river every morning and night. 

No, life wasn’t that hard, but it surely was different.

Instant gratification is the name of the game and I often wonder if this is the crux of what has made parenting so much more challenging these days.

I mean, really – who can compete with the latest video game, iPad app or downloadable blockbuster?

The immediate gratification that most kids feel these days is borne of the fact that our collective desire for “stuff” has overridden the previous reality that dictated that “patience is a virtue.” In other words, no longer is the thrill of anticipation regarded as a necessary piece of the final puzzle when it comes to acquisition. Kids want what they want and the want it now. Adding to this scenario is the fact that the parents of these kids (myself included) are just as anxious to provide their children with the items that they desire, oftentimes because it makes their lives easier (TV as a babysitter anyone? I plead “Guilty”).
Children these days have no concept of waiting, patience or the thrill of anticipation. Everything is immediate. My children have grown up in a world that has always had the Internet, DVDs TV shows and movies on demand, cell phones immediate pictures on cameras and microwaves. 

Google is both a noun and a verb. The Dewey Decimal System sounds like something that you would order over QVC. Pictures are immediate. You take them and then look at them. You don’t like them? You delete them. There’s nothing tangible about them at all. As a matter of fact, if you want a physical picture, you actually have to get them printed – an task that seems like an exercise in futility more often than not, as you can just as easily hit “slideshow” on your iPhone or iPad and carry your cherished memories with you.

That being said, let me make it abundantly clear that I love the advances that technology has afforded me. I am somewhat of a technophile and geek. I love gadgets, stuff, downloading and streaming. I’m lazy and love the fact that I can carry a portable, digital “To Do” list with me wherever I go. I like to watch the latest TV shows on my smartphone while I’m traveling on the local transit.

Irrespective of this fact, there is a part of me that yearns for a different time, one where life wasn’t so easy or so transparent. Google has taken away the veneer of privacy that one could achieve if they kept their noses clean. No criminal record meant no trace of you at all in the public records, other than your registration as a citizen of your particular city or town. Now, even if you wanted to be anonymous, it would be virtually (and literally) impossible. Google would find you, reference you and cache you. If you’ve done even the most minor of things, say participating in your neighborhood community support group or volunteering at your local church, you may be referenced online in perpetuity.

Anonymity  is a thing of the past.

Life as we know it isn’t the same as life as some of us knew it. Sometimes I yearn to go back to those days.

I somewhat miss some of these benchmarks of my childhood:
  • The Encyclopedia Brittanica – all 10,000 copies that lined the bookshelves at my home (okay, maybe not 10,000 copies but it seemed like a really big number as the books lined so many shelves)
  • Watching The Brady Bunch at 4pm after school – On one of the 13 or 14 FINITE channels that we had. Oh, and we had to GET UP to change the channel – remotes were NOT the norm!
  • Transistor Radios and later Sony Walkmans – You waited with baited breath for your favorite new song to come on and then blasted it as best you could (but of course there was no bass, just treble…). 
  • Records – The CD could never replace the feeling of ripping off that plastic sheath on that coveted piece of music that you had saved up your allowance for. And downloadable music and iTunes? Love them both but still long for the time when you could crack open a new album, admire the cover art and put it on the player.
  • Anticipation – For everything. For the latest movie. For the latest movie being shown on TV (if you missed it, you just had to wait until it came on again sometime in the future). For your favorite TV show rerun (no computers, not Internet, no streaming TV shows the next day after airing). For hearing your favorite song played on the radio (no immediate downloading through iTunes or online)
  • Reading an old-fashioned, physical map (Google Maps wasnon-existent in my youth)
Some other events that will likely never happen again in my lifetime:  
  • Heating up my cold dinner on the stove (no microwaves or “nuking” food in 30 seconds)
  •  Cooking popcorn on the stove (melting the butter, waiting, adding the kernels, watching them explode!)
  •  Adjusting the rabbit earson the TV set for better reception
  •  Listening to the national anthem on TV then seeing the Test Pattern that indicated that TV was over for the night until the next day (24-hour TV and CNN didn’t exist)
I love living during these times and benefiting from the advances that technology can offer but I do miss the simpler times of my youth, I can’t lie.

What do YOU miss from your childhood? What things would you bring back if you could?

VIDEO: Those Were The Days My Friend

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