One is immediately ostracized for suggesting that the “old days” were better in some way. You are portrayed as an “old timer” who just doesn’t understand the modern sophistication of, say, Lady GaGa or Jon Stuart or raves.
I love the modern, with all the latest technology, speed, instant gratification, and all that jazz. But some olio that includes extinct past practices might improve all our lots. Specifically:
• People used to dress up on airplanes. Men and women wore suits. Conditions were (believe it or not) not as comfortable as they are today. I’d rather wear a jacket than sit next to a guy with a tee-shirt and flip-flops, or a woman with her hair all over the seat with dirty bra straps prominently displayed. (And that’s first class.)
• I like music with intelligible lyrics, which is why the Great American Song Book and jazz and blues were so popular with all ages. Someone screaming at me just feels as though I dented their car. The Beatles perpetuated the past with carefully chosen words.
• Humor was achieved without gross profanity. I’ve heard comics on some of the cable channels who throw in an obscenity (usually the same one) every 30 seconds, and the audience roars. That’s not humor, that’s just classless. (And it’s stupefying on Facebook where some people seem bereft of adjectives and just rely on mindless profanity.)
• Standing ovations were once rare, granted to magnificent performances. Now they are constant, granted to the audience for themselves as if to say, “It was worth the $400 dollars, even if I didn’t understand it and wasn’t crazy about the story or acting.”
• There were no such things as “all you can eat buffets” which I find totally disgusting along with the people scarfing down food as though they’ve never eaten, although their waistlines would belie that.
• People agreed on some issues and disagreed on others. It wasn’t “single issue politics” in which one disagreement created polarization. Moreover, people admired success, they didn’t fall victim to sophistry about “soaking the rich” as though that would take care of everything. People sought success, not revenge.
• It was rare to have a single-parent family unit, and it was heinous to conceive several children by different women and not support any of them.
• No one expected the rest of society to change to meet their every need, whether it was a fragrance allergy, a food restriction, or learning problem. People dealt with their own issues and didn’t automatically become victims of them. People first looked to families to help. (Some guy on Facebook told me that my new retreat center, named after one of my dogs, should be “dog free” to accommodate his dog hair allergy! Yet he’s not a client and I’ve never heard from him before. He’s just his own agenda-peddler telling me I should change my life.)
• In baseball, shortstops hitting .230 didn’t receive $20 million contracts; in basketball, even the stars were called for walking and palming; in football, players made great plays without launching a celebration as if they’d just invented penicillin; and in all sports, there were no performance-enhancing drugs. (In fact, stars such as Mickey Mantle and Max McGee routinely drank alcohol to excess and played with diminished skills.)
• There were dinner tables where kids were able (viz.: were forced to) talk to their parents, learn values, explore difficulties, hear of the world around them, and mature socially. When I do see families dining together today in restaurants, every member has a face buried in an electronic device. That’s not “bon appetite,” that’s bonehead.
• There were no “reality stars” in scripted shows pretending to be extemporaneous, and no one in the public view named Kardashian.
© Alan Weiss 2014