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The "Good Old Days"


  11:47:29 pm, by Nimble   , 973 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, People

The "Good Old Days"

I was on the LRT yesterday and didn't quite bear witness to an altercation between some "punk-ass kids". One older guy on the LRT chased them off, for which I was quite happy. However, once they were gone, he started spouting the same old sort of drivel that just drives me insane.

"It's all those violent videogames; they should ban those." "It all started when they stopped using the strap in school"

Wait a damned minute.

These are just part of the same damned old "good old days" reminiscing that I've seen online and infrequently encountered in person, but based on how people vote and to how much of a head some issues come, a lot of people actually believe this tripe.

So, in I weigh with my own rant...

So what was actually good about the good old days?

Well, roles were more well-defined, I suppose. You didn't have to wonder whether you were supposed to be a sensitive guy or not: you weren't. You didn't backtalk to your parents - well, you did, but they were allowed to hit you, and you could take it out on other people, be it your own kids, coworkers, what have you. Well, that hasn't changed for everyone either, I suppose.

If someone was beating their wife, that was their own business. Nobody could really question what you did in your own home. Cheat on their wives? What were their wives going to do... leave? Besides, they had already put their time in for the war, and brothels were par for the course. Many died, leaving many widows, but it wasn't kosher to televise it or make a big stink about it.

Of course, I paint a big, broad brush, but this grass-was-greener attitude is, to my mind, entirely misplaced. Especially since, if you dig into peoples' family trees a bit, they're rife with all the aforementioned nastiness. Men's wives leave them due to infidelity, and the men are the ones who feel righteously shocked and betrayed?!

So what is it about modern-day life that might be particularly upsetting?

There are some of the older generation who revel in some modern-day inventions, but it's been a boondoggle to many. In some ways, the computer is the ultimate insult: not only is it confusing, and unlike everything that came before, but you've got to type... like some latter-day secretary.

City life - especially in North America, settlements turn into villages turn into towns which get absorbed by cities. You don't know your neighbors, nobody automatically respects you, because you have a fraction of the pull that you used to, people are much more different from one another, and the "buddy system" doesn't work as well as it used to.

We may be better informed, but everything sounds like it happened around the corner. If a grisly murder happens in Minnesota, it's all over the news, and you're getting 24-hour-a-day bulletins on what type of person to avoid on the street. Danger feels like it's a lot closer.

People talk about things that you were supposed to keep under your hat. Child abuse, adultery, drugs, priest scandals. Jerry Springer, for goodness' sake. Things that always happened in the country somewhere land right on your doorstep, whether you like it or not.

What's to blame? Why, something different, of course. Discipline must be lacking, so it's got to be a change in discipline. Never mind that the belt doesn't work very well; it worked in the short term and didn't require patience. There's more violence... at least, there MUST be more violence, so what's it got to be? Where's more violence now? It's got to be television, comic books and video games, because those are new. Young and violent punks... well, they're young, so they must have video games, so it's the video games, not the lack of discipline, lack of parental involvement, beatings, brawling or bullying of old.

I just find all the reasoning involved so grotesque. I think we've grown up as a society. We've had our days where ignorance was "better", we've tried out some of our spectacular "leftist" overreactions (like don't discipline your children at all, or extreme political correctness), we're not willing to risk all that many people in war, though we will still commit to just wars. We're talking about things, racism, though still around, is uncool, and apart from recent setbacks, we've got a better ideal of liberty than we have in the past.

The major troubles right now seem to be an unjustified conservative backswing based on fear (fomented by those who know better), and expensive, expensive houses (I don't know how I'm going to get a decent house now, much less my future children).

Will we ever have a generation where the "good old days" are as good as the "good new days"?

I think there might be a chance at that.

It's odd, in a way, that the newer generations are "used to change"... they picked up computers no problem, and roll with most everything that is dished out, but strangely, society itself from the 80's onward seems to have been staggeringly "stable". Compare 1986 to 2006, versus 1956 to 1986, for example.

"The more things change" is how it goes.

Rant off for now. Cheers :)

UPDATE: Coincidentally, there's a pretty good summary of past "moral scourges upon our children" over at Wired. (Thanks to Tom at Khubla.com for the link)

In amongst these horrible past scourges were novels, rock and roll, movies and the waltz. It may seem utterly crazy to us now that these would be of any issue (except perhaps for rock and roll, but merely due to how recent it is), but these were seriously taken to be as much of a threat as Grand Theft Auto or even real threats like crystal meth are taken to be today.

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