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Life in the 1950’s compared to Today

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Life today is very fast-paced. Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere and will push you out of the way to get there, like it’s some kind of race. In our personal lives, we have our cell phones, and maybe a home phone, scheduled play dates for our kids, microwaves, satellite TV, home security systems that don’t involve dogs, solar landscape lighting, automatic underground sprinkler systems for our lawns, and compact fluorescent lights to replace the incandescent bulbs that waste energy. In the business world, you have meetings that you can attend by using a video phone, PowerPoint presentations to help you get your point across at the meetings you can’t get out of, instant messaging to speak to clients and other businesses around the world, cell phones with computers built right into them to do everything simultaneously, navigational systems for the company cars to get you from point a to point b, and food replicators (just kidding). Items such as cell phones, computers, PDA’s, mp3 players, the internet, cable television and satellites, make this fast pace possible; and that’s only a few of the many hundreds of thousands of things that have been invented over the years to make life easier, and move us into the digital information age.

Everything in today’s life is instant, virtual, digital, satellite, cable, etc. You get my point, right? Anything that isn’t instant, virtual or digital can still be purchased on EBay from anywhere on earth that will receive a signal. There’s no turning back now. The only thing that will wipe it all out is a nuclear war, and personally, I think that North Korea is all talk, but that’s another story. Technology is advancing at a pace faster than Haley’s Comet. Every time I think I have the latest, greatest gadget on the planet, by the time I get it home, before it’s even opened, something better is being put on the same shelf that my gadget came from. The digital age; break-neck pace at a reasonable price, instant gratification, even if it’s obsolete as soon as you swipe your debit card. Thank you Bill Gates!

I, too, am guilty of falling into the digital trap that propels me into this fast pace, although I do my best to slow down from time to time. My major is Computer Information Systems. I’ve developed many skills and abilities that revolve around technology. I use the internet on a daily basis, checking my e-mail, keeping track of my favorite sports teams, sending text messages, and doing research for school. I use a computer for school work, since there are very few assignments that require printing, I submit them digitally, with the exception of English, but still a computer is used for the work. I use a microwave to heat up leftovers. I watch TV that is broadcast via satellite. All of these technologies have made a big change in my life, and without them, I couldn’t even begin to fathom what life would be like. That’s where my parents come in.

My parents were born in the early 1940’s, and know first-hand what life was like in the 1950’s; after all, they were there! Back then, there was barely any television. They had analog rotary phones with cords on them. The only car phones to be found required that a nickel be inserted, and then a live operator used a switchboard to connect your call. Remote news broadcasts were done by telephone, not via satellite. Automobiles had carburetors and used leaded gasoline. People didn’t go to the club on a nightly basis. Instead they gathered at a malt shop or soda shop where they could buy a hand mixed Pepsi, or a banana split.

For a nickel you could watch your favorite songs spin on a 45 r.p.m. vinyl record. You could drive down the road in your Bel Air or your Nomad, the only air conditioning being the windows, listening to the A.M. radio while you’re eating Mary Janes. The stock market used an actual ticker tape to show how the various stocks were doing, not a virtual ticker tape across the computer screen. The Korean “Police Action” took place. The only things that were instant in the 1950’s were oatmeal and thoughts. Whereas that may be an exaggeration, my point is easily made. Life in the 1950’s was a lot more simple, without all the complications brought about by today’s fast pace.

I could imagine myself being a “Soda Jerk” while I worked my way through college to be an accountant, a mechanical engineer, or an architect; all of which are very respectable career choices, and can be done without an over-abundance of technology. I could also see myself in the middle of an episode of “Leave it to Beaver”, or “Dobie Gillis”, and I suppose that’s an accurate portrayal of the way life was “supposed” to be in 1950’s suburbia, but only in suburbia. Back to my parents.

My parents were raised in a completely different environment than the typical “suburbia” family. Mom grew up in Missouri on a farm, and Dad grew up in different parts of Arkansas going from place to place to pick whatever was in season to make a buck. How they ended up in Michigan, I don’t know for sure, but you can bet that life was a lot different for them than it was for the Cleaver family. Whereas I have focused my life on technology, I could see myself living like that. I like the simple things as well as the complexity of a technologically advanced society. If I had grown up in that same time period, I wouldn’t know of what exists today.

Technology as a determining factor in the path my life takes, wouldn’t exist. 9-11, Katrina, the Tsunami, the Department of Homeland Security, both Gulf Wars, Hip Hop; none would exist. I would have grown up in a similar fashion as my parents and wouldn’t know any better. I’d probably have a favorite pair of suspenders instead of a favorite CD. I would quite possibly be herding cattle instead of hoarding money. Life in the 1950’s was much like today, and at the same time, very different. People in both time periods could be called dreamers, soldiers, parents, politicians, dictators, murderers, saints, sinners, heroes, villains, teachers, students, etc. Today people can be labeled the same way, just faster.

My parents both had relatives in the Korean conflict, and it took many weeks for correspondence. There was never a phone call, just the letter that arrived every 4 to 6 weeks or more. By the time the letter arrived, they were either on their way home, dead, or both. I probably, if at the right age, would have gone to war in Korea. The draft was wonderful like that. If you had a little facial hair and were of good health, Uncle Sam grabbed you and gave you a gun. I would hope that if I had gone to war, that I was assigned to the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. It wasn’t all blood and guts, and Colonel Potter was a real hoot. I doubt, however, that “M*A*S*H” was an accurate depiction of the fighting and killing that took place, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it; after all, it’s one of my all-time favorite shows.

I am a realist. I’m the type of person that has an optimistic outlook on life, but keep myself grounded so I’m not too terribly disappointed when things go wrong. I’m a divorced, single father of a wonderful six-year-old girl, who is sometimes too intelligent for her own good; but aren’t we all? Fifty years ago, you rarely saw single parents, and usually if you did, the situation was created by the passing of one spouse or the other. People today are more career oriented, college bound, outgoing, money motivated, in debt, in demand, out of time, out of touch, out of reach, and, in some cases, out of luck. Morality and family values have been in rapid decline for many American families. I, however, am trying to keep morality in the forefront when teaching my daughter the path of life. Is it “Generation X”, or “DE-Generation X”?

There are many aspects to my life today that I would miss if I were living in the past. I’ve become quite accustomed to checking e-mail on a daily basis, shopping online, news on demand, current weather conditions, laughing at crooked politicians, chatting with my friends when I can’t be there, being reached on the phone no matter where I’m at, doing my homework on the computer and submitting it digitally, the occasional drive-thru meal, watching the Cubs game anytime I want to, playing Solitaire without using cards, advanced health care, cloned sheep, “Star Wars”, Bill Clinton jokes told by Jay Leno, George H.W. Bush jokes told by anybody, microwaveable breakfast sandwiches, already made butterscotch pudding, double stuffed mint Oreos, Dairy Queen blizzards with Butterfingers and mail order meat. I could go on forever about all of the things I would miss if I were to “teleport” myself to the 1950’s. However, I only have a certain amount of words for this paper, and I don’t want to bore you too terribly much with random wordiness and meaningless banter such as in this sentence.

Many things about life today, would not be missed; by me or, probably, by countless others like myself. Today’s fast pace has created havoc in the lives of millions of people; myself included. It creates unnecessary frustration, decline of family values, disgruntled postal workers, and mass hysteria. I would not miss life in fast forward. I also would not miss having lived through so many tragic events that have taken place during my lifetime. Recent tragedies such as the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that took several thousand innocent lives, the Tsunami sweeping over the Indonesian region of the world, the senseless war in Iraq that has taken some of the best fighting men and women in the world from their families, and the whole Bin Laden regime that epitomizes evil. I also would not miss many of the ridiculous reality shows that intrude on otherwise useful air space.

I wouldn’t miss morons like Bob Saget, Conan O’Brien, Nancy Grace, Rush Limbaugh, George H.W. Bush, Dick DeVos, Jerry Seinfeld, George Michael, Michael Jackson, and countless others that fill our minds with garbage. I also wouldn’t miss hearing about steroid use in baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and every other sport that would otherwise be enjoyable. The professional athletes who partake in the “wonder muscle builder” should all be grouped together and shipped via Federal Express, to the moon, where they can form a league of their own. I wouldn’t miss three-dollar gas. I wouldn’t miss the Teletubbies, Power Rangers, the Wiggles, Bob the Builder, or many other silly characters from the different kids’ shows. Pollution, global warming, rap music, pants that don’t reach the waist, and genetically engineered babies. The list is much longer, and I’ve been very in depth about a lot of things that I wouldn’t miss, but all good things must come to an end. However, in the 1950’s, all the things I mentioned hadn’t yet come to a beginning.

If I had the choice of life today, or life in the 1950’s, I would have to choose the 21st century, hands down. I hate the fast pace and the road rage, but I accept those things because that’s life, and it’s never going to change back again. Whereas the simplicity of a technologically UN-advanced life that the 1950’s offered sounds very tempting, life today, for me, is just how I want it to be. I am very “technology savvy” and always like to learn about the new advancements and benefits to those advancements. I could weigh between now and then for all eternity, but how can you sum up life in only 2,000 words?

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