The world is a very different place now than it was when I was growing up. We used to ride our bikes or horses miles from home. We went to school, we talked to our friends, we had sleepovers, and we played outside. We were members of Blue Birds, Camp Fire Girls, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Future Business Leaders of America, Future Farmers of America, and Honor Society. We played volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, football, ran cross country and track. We had six or eight channels on TV but someone had to turn the rotor to turn the antenna to get half of them.
We rode around in the back seat of the car without seat belts or car seats. We rode in the front seat and in the back of pickups too! We rode our bicycles without helmets. When were bicycle helmets invented anyway? Skateboarded without wrist protection or knee and elbow pads. Ok, I did break my wrist on a skateboard. Probably could have been prevented. But then again, maybe not.
We used the phone. It was usually hanging on the wall in the kitchen and we sat at the kitchen table or on the floor to talk. Privacy? What was that? We didn’t have anything going on in our lives our parents couldn’t overhear. If we did, we sure didn’t talk about it on the phone!
Heaven forbid the phone would ring during dinner! Oh, I forgot to mention, there was no such thing as voice mail or answering machines. It was okay to let it ring. I will admit I often had a burning desire to know who was calling. I wouldn’t have dared answer during dinner. Wow, no caller ID or *whatever to call back!
Without a cell phone. Can you imagine?
There were strict rules against boys being in girls bedrooms and vice versa. We weren’t given a free pass to make out and explore our sexuality. That only happened on the bench seat in a pick up truck or the backseat of a car. First base and a lot of lip lock! Better be home by curfew too!
Computers? What? We learned to type on IBM Selectrics and even manual typewriters. Copy machines? Nah, we had mimeograph. The library had a card catalog sitting in the middle of the room. Yep, we all knew the Dewey Decimal System. We read books and research results published in scholarly magazines for a particular discipline to write our papers.
In high school we had lockers. The worst thing anyone brought to school? A beer (that was my brother). Yes, there were some who used marijuana and maybe some who used harder drugs but it wasn’t the norm. There were occasional parties in the middle of the tree farm where beer and Mad Dog 20/20 were the beverage of choice.
The news actually reported what was happening. They gave unbiased accounts of events in our world. What a concept, the media wasn’t a mechanism used by interest groups to push their own agenda. We weren’t intolerant when we didn’t agree with something. We were expressing our own opinion and using the critical thinking skills we had been taught.
The first time I encountered a standardized test? The SAT for college entrance. Prior, teachers taught real subject matter and thinking for one’s self was applauded. Going out on a limb to argue a different viewpoint was encouraged. We were taught to debate issues while maintaining respect for individuals.
Video games? We went to the arcade and played Pong. PacMan and Asteroids were about as exciting as it got. Game consoles at home? Atari was on the way but hardly anyone had one. Internet? What’s that?
I could never have imagined the amount of information I would be bombarded with as the Internet, email, cell phones, and social media gradually invaded daily life. Video and images I would have been shocked by now routinely roll by on my news feed. Pornography was something that had to be sought out. R rated movies were tame compared to what they are today. Oh, a breast or some heavy kissing while rolled in tangled sheets with a fade out. Now, whoa! Curse words and nudity rule the screen.
No one worried about keeping their house locked. Everyone knew everyone where I grew up. I couldn’t get home before someone called my Mom to report I had been seen exceeding the speed limit on my way through town. Everyone knew everyone else’s business. At the time, I thought that was a bad thing. Now, was it?
We had chores. Chores had to be done before we could go out. No ifs ands or buts about it. It was non-negotiable. School work was the same. Done? If not, guarantee the answer would be no.
We respected our parents and adults family memebers. We might have back talked and argued with them. That never even crossed our minds at school. No, we didn’t like all of our teachers but we respected them. We were taught they were our elders. We called them Mr. and Mrs. I didn’t even know the first names of my elementary school teachers. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have called them by their first name. Adults and children are not peers!
We didn’t have mass shootings in our schools. We weren’t constantly at war. Teen suicide rates were lower. Bullying was not allowed and there weren’t “sensitivity classes” to teach us to behave decently toward each other. We earned what we got…good or bad. We weren’t entitled to a phone in our room, a car to drive, fancy clothes, an allowance, or anything else.
Things were different. I think in a good way. What do you think?