In my day…

February 24, 2013 § 15 Comments

Horse-and-BuggyThis was my grandfather’s perennial opening to a litany of all that was wrong with this modern world.

As a kid I wondered about his yearning for what no longer was and his disdain for what it had become after it escaped his grasp.

I lived in the teeming now. What could be more exciting?

I understand better now.

As it was in my grandfather’s experience, the way the world operated was different when I was growing up.

I don’t miss the physical workings of that old world so much. I don’t pine for the curly cord on the phone—although it was fun wrapping it around my hand while sitting on the laundry room floor talking to my boyfriend.

What I miss are the agreed-upon character traits that were valued.

In my day people were thrifty. We boiled the bones. We hemmed the pants and let them down as the wearer grew, and hemmed them up again when the pants were handed down to a younger sibling. In my family the army mess hall adage, “Take all you want but eat all you take” was gospel.

In my day we understood the difference between together and apart. We didn’t carry everyone we knew in a device in our pocket, responding like Pavlov’s dogs to each jingle. When apart we missed each other properly. We walked a letter to the mailbox and checked for an answer every day—even when it was way too soon to hope. Love thrived on anticipation. While apart we knew how to be alone.

In my day truth did not belong to the highest bidder, the loudest shouter. Truth was fact-checked and “fair and balanced” did not mean that Darwin and Creationists deserved equal time.

Except for those parade-balloon-huge personalities like Elvis and the Beatles, in my day we were anonymous. We dragged no comet trails behind us, left no reports of what we ate for breakfast or what we did at Disney.  We came and went without fuss.

In my day modesty was in style, not just the modesty that would make showing off your butt crack an embarrassment, but the modesty that separated us from those who were featured in the grocery store tabloids. “Reality” was a quiet place, not a stage for blowhards.

In my day we did this, then this, then this, in a dignified, linear fashion. We did not sit like a spider in a web, tugging multiple threads. Life was coherent.

In my day it took more than 3.2 seconds to become impatient.

In my day we could stitch a button hole, tune up a car, grow a tomato worthy of the name and find our way from point A to point B without a canned voice advising us to turn left in .2 miles.

To be fair, the world moved more slowly then. We had time to figure things out. And more of the world was accessible with the use of a screwdriver. Now what breaks is hermetically sealed, requires computer diagnostics, and is always cheaper to replace than fix.

Still, while as a species we are more advanced, as individuals we can’t do squat.

I could go on and on, but I hope this was sufficiently cranky.

Unlike my grandfather, I know I have a stake in this new, imperfect world. It’s time to return to the teeming now. I have no choice.

This too is my day.

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§ 15 Responses to In my day…

  • deb reilly says:

    “In my day it took more than 3.2 seconds to become impatient.” That summed it up for me. Oh, that and the “butt crack” line. 🙂

    Like

  • craig reeder says:

    i am astounded that there is no longer any sense of personal privacy whatever, and even more astounded that hardly anyone, except for us cranky old geezers, even notices or cares. but it’s a done f’ing deal. what i’ve learned is that once something becomes technologically possible, there is no way to stop it becoming a fact of life.

    Like

    • I miss privacy like crazy. The only control I have over that loss is to not report everything I do to the collective, but choose what to share–such as my considered opinion in the form of cranky blog posts like this.

      Like

  • Richard D. says:

    I understand, now, why the Greeks started asking what was behind the changes they were witnessing. Yes, it was a problem then, too, and it led to the first genuine philosophical questions that sought to figure out the world, or at least to get a grasp on what was going on as it passed by in their lives. Seems we’re still clueless.

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  • KM Huber says:

    I suppose what I miss most of all is that there were “agreed-upon character traits”; maybe there are now, and I am not paying attention. If there are, I cannot hear or find them in all of the “reality.” Perhaps I, too, am just having a cranky moment, although I don’t find your post cranky but that may be because it reflects my own thinking, which I guess brings me back to cranky. On that note, I return to my day for it is what I have.

    Karen

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  • Marcia Snyder says:

    Thriftiness ( dollar days at Goodwill), taking care, and knowing when and where to be private are all important. These values have made survival and living during the past few years possible and usually enjoyable. I do what I love doing and what I need to do although circumstances are different.

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    • We have survived that way as well. It has allowed us to take our time and be happy although we’ve always made do with less.

      I have a friend, a writer, who calls the condition “chosen poverty.” “Chosen” gives the condition some dignity, and in truth, we have chosen it because we have always picked jobs that are fulfilling, but pay sporadically and modestly.

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      • Jamie Forrest says:

        At the age of 30, I can already relate to this sentiment. This is not the world I “grew up” in, although admittedly I have a lot more growing to do. My friends and I lament how we never locked the front door when we were kids. We browsed our mother’s closets when we wanted to play princess, and our pretend names didn’t have to stem from a Disney movie. TV was a great treat, not our babysitter. Our cameras used film and had flash cartridges that only had a limited number of uses, so every shot we took was treasured. Kids today act as if you don’t truly experience an event unless you have video footage for proof. Facebook was unveiled for only those with a .edu email address 3 months before I graduated from FSU, and now my tween cousins have profiles and share every minute detail about their day. I often wonder how my experience in high school and especially college would have differed had Facebook been as ubiquitous as it is now, back then. Would I have made more “friends”? Would I have been more social? Attended more film screenings, star gazing get togethers, keg parties, or slip and slide adventures? Probably not… But I can’t help but wonder.

        Technology changes as such an exponential rate, there are probably are 20 year olds who could easily chime in with how it was different for them. I heard the other day that the iPhone was only released 6 years ago, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon until the 4th edition, and yet still I can’t imagine my life without it. Or using a checkbook to keep track of my finances. I have an app for my bank, my credit cards, my cable (and internet of course), and my car loan, and I receive emails from the city with my electric bill. My car insurance and my cellphone bill automatically pay themselves when they are due. Within a few seconds, I can look up the actor’s name in the movie I’m watching, and find out his birthdate, where he grew up, his parent’s names… I always consult Google maps for directions to a new place I’m going, and check hotel photos before I book a room. I study restaurant menus for places I have never been and don’t have plans to go to anytime soon. My recipe books sit dusty on the bookshelf, as I can get 12 different versions of any recipe I might want to make sitting on my couch using my “phone”.

        Ultimately, this too is my day. I’m glad my music is available from all of my devices instead of having a 2in folder full of scratched CDs. But I digress…

        The real reason I started this reply, was to share a link in response to your comment about “chosen poverty. It reminded me of an article i recently read on the “best definition of success” which I thought gave a fresh perspective of what success really means and how it differs from person to person.

        http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130314115932-20017018-the-best-definition-of-success-is-the-one-you-never-use?trk=mp-details-rc&_mSplash=1

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  • ammaponders says:

    Today’s “agreed upon character traits” don’t work well for me. So I’ll just be an old fogey and be true to myself.

    Like

  • Gerald Dowling says:

    All these things are true. This is not my generation! I belong to the past like a relic and being bald headed is just the beginning of my body being erased from existence. I got a shock the other evening when I watched my favorite character for the last fifty years, 007. After seeing this one, I am sure that 007, M, and all the rest feel the same way. No longer do they need exploding pens, cars with machine guns. Q even admits in this particular movie that he can do more damage in front of his computer in an hour that 007 could do in six months, without removing his pajamas.
    Like most little boys, I rode the range with Roy, and Hoopy. I followed 007 through all his travels, but he is old, and everybody in a position of leadership in the UK are women. Nothing against women at all, but somehow the old grey headed men smoking their cigars and pipes in a heavily wood paneled office seemed more likely the case. And no Moneypenny, what is the world coming to?

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