Don’t get me wrong about life nearly two decades into the 21st century: It certainly has its share of modern conveniences.
It’s terrific that I’ll never again have to waste an hour trying to refold a paper map into its original condition. The Yellow Pages no longer takes up valuable kitchen cabinet space. And go to the grocery store? Why? A few computer clicks and everything I need shows up at the front door two hours later.
If you’re an inherently lazy person – someone who would prefer everything be done with the least amount of hassle possible – life in 2019 is for you.
Except here’s the dirty truth: I’m really starting to miss the way things were back in the day. I know technology and mankind allegedly continues to make progress, but I’m beginning to think that for every sign of evolution there’s a corresponding sign of de-evolution.
What do I miss?
Calls instead of text messages. Remember when friends and loved ones used to pick up the phone to say aloud stuff like, “Hey man, happy birthday,” or “Not sure if you heard, but we’re getting divorced?” Nowadays? If Shakespeare had written Hamlet’s big speech in 2019, it would’ve been a text. “2B or not 2B.”
Not exactly the stuff of literary magic. At least IMHO, U know?
What else do I miss? The days when people didn’t discuss politics at the dinner table, because that was rude. Life before cellphones and email, when it was possible to avoid work and the news for a few hours.
My first pair of Air Jordans. Bruce Jenner. NFL and NBA players who didn’t bray like jackasses after every play. Saturday Night Live back when it was funny. And ice cream trucks and kids who played ringolevio until the sun went down – without ending up on Dateline NBC.
Part of this dissatisfaction is nostalgia about time passing me by, but not all of it. As life keeps gaining speed and we compress more of everything – noise and news, communications and crap to buy – into every 24 hours, we seem to have chosen quantity over quality in virtually every way imaginable.
My bookshelves are an example. When space was scarce and a hardcover cost $25, the books I bought were the ones I knew I would return to over the years. Today, a book is $11.99 or less and my iPad holds thousands of titles, half of which I’ve only skimmed. My library is bigger, but it’s absolutely no better.
You can make that point about so much of life today. We have never been offered more television channels or platforms to get news and entertainment.
Yet, there’s never been less worth watching. Most reporters are little more than rumormongers, interested more in the pursuit of controversy and clicks than facts. And Hollywood? If you’re not interested in superhero flicks, reboots and remakes, or animated tripe, don’t bother checking the movie showtimes anytime soon.
The list goes on: There was a day when people used to dress up to fly on airlines, versus sweatpants and slippers. Drinking straws used to be kind of fun, not a point of shame. We used to have friends we met in real life, not Facebook “connections” and a “network” of digital strangers.
There was a time when Americans were universally proud to be Americans, and when a neighbor was someone you agreed with more than disagreed or disliked on sight.
Of course, I also used to have a 32-inch waist. And like all the many things I miss, those acid-washed Levis from my college days also aren’t coming back anytime soon.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.