Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Thirteen

Last night I was thinking about the many things that have changed in my lifetime. Admittedly, that is a number of years - not quite 50 but getting closer - but it seems  a very short time when I look back on it. However, the world is certainly a lot different now. I wish I could name a single most important thing that has changed, but I am not sure I can.

1. Attitudes. I think if I were to name a big one, this would be it, although I think the attitudes have been there, just not quite so vocal. I think the thing that strikes me most in the current era as opposed to previous one is how pervasive and all-encompassing the fear seems to be. Everyone is afraid of everything anymore. This loss of courage has manifested itself as a resistance to change and a strong move toward individualism, which has resulted in a great loss of community and connectedness.

2. TV. When I was growing up, I could only watch one channel - ABC. It was all the TV would pick up. Now I have a satellite dish and it has 250 channels on it and nothing to watch.

3. The Internet. I could break this down into 13 things alone - paying bills online, email, online communications, etc. This has been a major change in the way people relate to one another and I personally believe has helped with #1 above. The Internet can promote fear and isolationism. It doesn't have to but it does. On the other hand, the Internet is good for the same reasons - it can be a very helpful tool. This technology has shrunk the world.

4. The loss of independent media. While I know some people think the media is liberal and left-leaning, I believe it is right-leaning and has been for the last 20 years or so. Media is now about profit, not news, and as a result the real stories, the ones that matter and effect change in a society, are not being told. The loss of the media as government watchdog has a direct correlation to all of the corruption in government today. If no one is paying attention, they can do what they want. And our media is not paying attention. Maybe in the long run this will be a good thing, but I don't see how.

5. Computers. This probably goes along with the Internet but actually computers do a lot more than allow Internet access. Computers are great for many daily tasks - organizing schedules, word processing, accounting, playing solitaire. It is being dumbed down to "apps" but a good computer and a strong program can be one of the best tools a business person has, if used properly.

6. On a smaller level, video games came into being in my lifetime. Pong was invented in 1972 and look where we are now - games that encompass entire worlds and take on lives of their own. I am not sure this is a good thing, to be sure - video games are a big issue in psychological circles, where it is recognized as an addiction and lots of playing is symptomatic of other issues. While I am not a psychologist, as a journalist I have heard many of stories of older workers who find young people don't want to work, they only want to play video games, and resent any time spent away from their screens.

7. Changes in way of life from rural to industrial and now to service. Fifty years ago, life was a bit more rural, and there were more farmers. There wasn't an "eat local" movement because stuff was local. But that soon changed and the small farmer lost importance as big business and corporations took over. As with media, when it became all about the money instead of about feeding people and caring for the land, the lifestyle and focus changed. I don't know if this is better or worse, but it has changed.

8. Health care. The days of receiving an aspirin in exchange for a basket of eggs have long been gone, and I'm not sure they even existed in my day. What did exist was health care that actually cared about you and not your wallet. I had a doctor for 20 years who was an old-fashioned fellow who would listen, hold my hand, give me a shot if I needed it, and who generally took good care of me. He spent more than 10 minutes with you and tried to help. I have been hard-pressed to find another since he retired. I think American health care is terrible and have for years. However, there has been some progress, such as ways to save heart attack victims, so I can't degrade the whole process.

9. Pharmaceutical advertising. This used to be against the law, but that changed (must have been too much regulation for some, I guess), and now we're bombarded with ads every day for purple pills and other remedies.

10. Books are still with us, but now we have e-books. I don't have an e-reader yet but I suspect I will in the near future. Books have changed in price - they cost a lot more now - and they have changed in quality, too. For example, my textbook came with the pages uncut on the bottom. Very poor production quality. Many books go to market with typing errors, too.  You used to never see this kind of thing but somewhere along the way someone decided that quality didn't matter to the bottom line. The poor quality is definitely not better. I think in the long run I will like e-books, though.

11. Music. To my surprise, my young nephews listen to MY music. They don't seem to have music of their own. At the local ball games, the teams and spectators hear "We will rock you" or some other Queen song over the loudspeakers. Music apparently has evolved into something that the current generation cannot grasp and absorb as its own. Also, there is a loss of connection because no one listens to the same thing anymore. Music helped create community when I was growing up, because we all listened to American Top 40 and heard the same songs. With iPods and CDs and all, no one need listen to the same thing, so music is no longer a major topic of conversation.

12. Cellphones. I can remember talking on a party line when I was a child - we had to wait until other people - the neighbors down the street - were off the phone to use it. Now everyone has their own telephone and can be reached any hour of the day. I confess, I leave mine in the car. I prefer to be reached only when I want to be.

13. Education. I hate to say it, but I think we're not as smart as we used to be. Fewer people are in college and have degrees. I am not sure why this is.

There you go. Thirteen things that have changed in the last five decades.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here. I've been playing for a while and this is my 187th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. The loss of personal farms to corporate farming was a terrible thing. It would have been wonderful if farmers had been given the equipment to increase food production in the best way they knew how being close to the land. What we have instead with corporate run farms and modified seeds and quick growth chicken feed...sigh...Definitely worse.

    Music on the other hand, I must run into different young people than you do. I'm only a decade+ younger than you are, but music is one of the first things I'm often asked about when meeting new people. I know that Myspace then Facebook and now Twitter all did their parts, but YouTube has set an entirely different standard. When a cover done by an obscure local band can get 3 million hits and be seen by new fans in China--all without a record deal--well, you don't get more music-oriented community interaction than that. I think the difference is that what used to be general is both specialized and labeless, so it's harder to identify, but it's definitely there.

    Nuff out of me! Thanks for the thought provoking post. :)

    Happy TT,

    13 Paragraphs

  2. Funny how when we were growing up and could only get a few channel and never complained about it.

    Enjoy your Thursday!

  3. Nice list; I totally have seen a lot of these changes in my 32 years. I was also thinking newspapers and how news gets around, but that's also tied into TV and internet. It's crazy all we have now.

  4. It's funny to sit back and look at the changes. An older aunt of mine died a couple years back, and we were talking about how the first time she moved it was in covered wagon with her parents. She got to see all of these things you mentioned come to pass. Even the invention of TV.
    I do think we have lost a few things as well in the advancement. Some for the better some for the worst. Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. The Internet has been huge in my life. I don't think it's isolated me any more than I was isolated before. It's replaced TV for me.

  6. My teen daughters listen to lots of music I did at their age. They have also opened my eyes to some newer artists who are amazing.
    With all the changes in the world, it's nice to have a soft place to fall, in the home I've created for me and my children.
    Happy Early Easter!

  7. Ha! You're right. It's amazing how many things have changed.


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