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Eureka: Were things really better in the past? Eureka: Were things really better in the past?
by Akli Hadid
2018-08-10 07:59:31
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An honest assessment of the past, present and future.

Entertainment: Of course we're a lot better off today than we were ten, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years ago. We have unlimited access to movies, music, games, events, social events. Events and parties are a lot more advertised, toys are more diverse, you used to be considered lucky if you had ten games in the 1990s now you have infinity of games. You used to be lucky if you had 50 records or CDs now you have unlimited access to music, same goes for movies, television series, or meeting people. You used to have to go to the pub to meet people, now there are hundreds of social events advertised online, and people do show up to those events. In cities where social events are not the norm, there are no social events.

vintag01_400Music: It used to be that you had to really like a musician to buy their album. And it wasn't just one song you could buy, although singles were in some cases available, but you had to buy the entire album, and it used to cost a fortune. Now you can listen to all the music you want. The downside is singers are no longer considered national treasures, but the upside is there are no more scams where people are told to spend their life savings to record an album, as record labels took advantage of the naiveté of some people by telling them “record an album, and you will be cherished as a national treasure.” 

Movies and film: Classic movies are always charming. There used to be a lot of human interaction in movies, and movie stars were celebrated as national treasures. Today a lot of movies are about humanoids rather than human beings, and movies tend to overuse special effects. I also have the feeling we have a crisis when it comes to screen writing, perhaps because in the past the news used to be what happened in the street corner, today the news is about things in faraway lands. So today's screen writers have something of a break with reality, and I get the feeling they have trouble describing reality as it is. So movies in the old days were better, in my opinion.

Books: Today's books are way better than the books of the past. Today you have a larger choice of books, and pick any topic and you'll find an ocean of books on the topic. Older books used to desperately lack information, because older writers did not have access to Google and Facebook, so could not look up information or invite people for an interview like you can today. Also, today's books are a lot more entertaining, and contain much better information than they did in the past. Older books tended to be boring, to lack concrete examples and to be very dry. Plus a lot of authors were completely overrated. 

School and school teachers: Used to be better in the past. Let me explain why. In the past, you had one teacher, teaching one textbook, and students had the same textbook the teacher had. Photocopies only became something in the 1990s, so up until the 1990s, you just followed the book. Some teachers were better at explaining than others, but few teachers were completely off topic. In today's schools, you have teachers with too many textbooks, textbook companies constantly harassing them to buy textbooks so every class now has three or more textbooks, teachers give way too much homework, explanations are way too complicated, and teachers expect students to be Nobel Prize laureates in every category. I wish I were exaggerating. Schools are also micromanaged, students tend to have a lot less sleep than they used to, so do teachers, which means things get irritable in the classroom. School in the 80s and 90s was a lot better. 

Universities: Used to be better in the past. For the same reason as schools. Professors assign a lot more textbooks, give away homework as if students were full-time employees, cover way too much material, and expect students to be Nobel Prize winners in every category. Universities used to be a lot cheaper, students were more humble about their aspirations in life, professors were more humble about their personal and student ambitions in life, there was little or no bureaucracy, research and books were a lot more dry but simple, and a lot cheaper.

Real estate: In the past, people did not sell or rent houses or apartments unless they were 99.999% sure they were renting or selling to a decent and good person. That meant you had to go through a lot of frustration getting into the insular real estate world. If you had no friends, you had to rent some kind of hotel room or knock on everyone's door until you find someone willing to rent or sell. Today, things are a lot more liberal. You want a house, you have the money, you're in. This has two implications. In the past, neighbors tended to be very friendly with each other, almost considering each other family members. It was even quite common for people to marry neighbors or people from the neighborhood. Today, neighbors ignore each other, and almost everyone has an annoying or very annoying neighbor. 

Transportation: Depends. Cars were cheaper, traffic was light, highways were free. Trains were dirty, slow, and very boring. Planes had more space in them, there were no queues at the airport, security was lax, but for those who see everything with rose-colored glasses, I must remind you that delays were very frequent, and flights were cancelled a lot more frequently back then. And if flights were cancelled, you were not always given a hotel room, you slept on the floor in the airport. Airport security was lax, and there were a lot of pickpockets in airports. So transportation is a mixed bag. 

Politics: There were a lot fewer cameras in politics, politicians rarely made public appearances, and their speeches used to be scripted. With image being an important part of politics, in the 1980s, a lot of actors started joining politics, not because they had brilliant ideas, but because they knew what camera to look at. In 2018, reality TV show participants are increasingly entering politics, not because they have brilliant ideas, but because they know how to behave when a camera is looking at you 24/7. 

Sports: The 1990s were probably the best period for sports. Before that, sports were something for the elite. In the 1990s, sports democratized. In the 2000s on, sports became something for the elite again. It's always the same teams winning and always the same elites practicing sports. It was better when we all had tennis rackets, a basketball and a soccer ball and would go out and play, just for fun, not to be spectacular. But in the 2000s sports have become very physical, when up until the 1980s sports were just too expensive. 

Wars: Better today. Up until the 1990s, you had a lot of generals who were also leaders and who liked to fight wars. Today's leaders have a little bit more economic culture that is having read at least a couple of books about the economy. And yes, today's leaders know how to read, which the case was not always in the 1980s and 90s. 

Safety and security: We're a lot safer today. Kids have their smartphones and for countries who can afford the police you have the police everywhere. New forms of terror attacks have emerged, including car ramming and bombs, but compared to all the pickpockets, stalkers, serial killers, kidnappers, rapists, gang members who competed for who would kill the most people etc. And the police did not have the means to investigate or prevent crime that it has today. The internet also helps a great deal. 

News: News used to be more focused. Today's newsrooms are too distracted. Perhaps in the future newsrooms will find a way to write articles in less distracted fashion. Journalists have access to too much information and don't always know what to do with it. Plus until about 2003 or 2004 most newsrooms checked their sources very carefully, and as they said, if it's not in the Associated Press or Reuters, don't write it down or clearly state who gave you the information. Today, you write as you please.

Dating, marriage and children: I was watching 1980s sit-com Charles in Charge and thought, Oh my God, the father is my age (35) and has a teenage daughter, a teenage son and a younger son. I'm nowhere near marriage. Marriage and children used to be a lot more focused, dinner time was dinner time and bed time was bed time. But children ran around the house and broke things. Today's families are more distracted, which can be a good thing, but less focused. 

Banks: Today's banks are a hundred times better. In the old days you had to wait for the clerk to get your file, every transaction involved cash, bank transfers took several days, and you couldn't send money to someone who urgently needed it. Today's banks are a lot more efficient, less bureaucratic, but less bureaucracy also means more people taking loans for stupid things like cars or college education. In the old days people would buy a second hand car, save up, and buy their dream car and pay cash for it. Credit cards also mean a lot of people spend impulsively. Is it that good for the economy? Not so sure.

Hotels: Today's one-star hotels are like the 5-star hotels of the 1980s. I'm exaggerating a bit, but I've seen one-star hotels with decent rooms equipped with televisions and air-conditioners, and with breakfast provided and everything you need. In the 1980s, one-star hotels had a bed and that was it, were dirty, and the guy next door was usually some kind of homeless drug addict. In the past, you had to pay a lot of money to get a quality hotel room. Today, you can get a good room for a cheap price.  

Doctors and medicine: In the past, you had family doctors you would go see on a regular basis, and they would warn you that your health is deteriorating and try to help you kick bad habits. If you were eating too much they would recommend something, if you were drinking too much they would recommend something, if you weren't sleeping right they would recommend something. And they would see the results. Today's hospitals are huge bureaucracies, lots of faces with no names, and doctors trying to extract every nickel and dime they can from you. If you're sick, treatment facilities are a lot better today than they used to be. But preventative medicine? Used to be 100 times better in the past. And people actually went to their family doctors, sometimes just to have a cup of coffee and chat, and would leave in some cases without paying a dime.

Eating out and drinking out: More options today, restaurants and pubs are usually a lot cleaner, but way too many options to eat out. In the past, you ate out to celebrate some kind of event, maybe for a birthday or an anniversary, and not even then. Today you have so many eateries and pubs that it almost feels like there's no incentive for you to cook, and you rack up a lot of cash. Cooking home is cheaper.  

Sex and sexuality: People had sex back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, lots of it, at a very young age. But back then a lot of times they had no idea what they were doing or how they were supposed to do it. Today people have all kinds of access, not just to pornography, but also to sex education materials online and on paper. Do people still know what they're doing? Not always. 

Communications: You can call anyone, anywhere at any time in any place. Sounds kinda cool. That means you family can call you any time, your boyfriend or girlfriend can call you any time, your boss can call you any time. This is the very reason I tell people not to take the job if the boss doesn't sound like a friendly guy. In the old days, if your boss was a grinch, at 5 PM you said bye bye see you tomorrow. Today, not so much.

The environment: A lot of people tell me things were a lot dirtier in the old days. Cities had a lot more air pollution in them, there was trash all over the place, streets were dirty, a lot of streets were not paved and you had to walk in the mud, and there were piles of trash everywhere. A lot of cities have cleaned their act up.

Research and science: Research has always really been done in the military, government organizations and private businesses. If your professor brags about being a researcher, and adds all kinds of research titles to his or her name, you can gently poke fun at them. Research done in universities is the kind no one reads. Research done in the military, government or business is the kind everyone wants to read, but unfortunately, a lot of times it's classified.

Overall: Someone said the average guy today lives a lot better than any king would a hundred years ago. A lot of places are rather peaceful, entertainment is plentiful, food is tasty, drinks are tasty, which was not the case back in the old days. Life is more fun today than it used to be. But somehow stress levels have gone up, life satisfaction numbers have gone down, work has become a drag, so has school, people have easy access to debt, transportation has become more complicated, and a lot of things, including real estate, are a lot more expensive. So life today has more fun in it, but has also become more stressful in many ways. People tend to have more privacy, not less. And people can control their image, which is a luxury few could afford in the old days. In the old days, it was people starting rumors about you. At least today you can respond to the rumors. 


      
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