Things are different now than they were when we were kids, sonny. Those of you who are parents probably are made aware of this more often than others, as watching your kids grow up doing things you never got to do makes those changes more apparent. Also, Mistress Time, she is not kind to our poor, old brains. It's HARD to remember exactly what we used to do when we were kids. Really, though, the fun part isn't so much that you played different games or did a lot more staring at the wall than kids today... the fun part is how different the entire cultural zeitgeist was. And, of course, that's the more difficult thing to pin down. Because, seriously, folks today can hardly remember where they put their Venti Latte 5 minutes ago (answer: on top of your car) much less how they thought of things in general. Our parents had a totally different experience of the global community pre-internet. Just think about that for a second. How did we use to think of the world before guerilla bloggers took over the flow of information? Neat! Scary! Anyway, enough navel-gazing. On with this list.
This is easily the biggest change between today and yesteryear. I'm not just talking about how now you can IM with someone on the far side of the planet or see some stranger's dick on ChatRoulette, I'm talking about the globalization - and the essential free-market-ization of information. Now, if you have access to a computer, you can whistleblow and expose to your heart's content. Try to imagine how many WaterGates we missed pre-internet? I mean, we did have WaterGate, but it wouldn't have been Woodward and Bernstein to flush it out. There would have been a leak here, a leak there. An email someone intercepted, an accidental CC, a guy who worked at the hotel who had a cameraphone... I mean, really. Wow. Remember all that crap the CIA was doing in the 60s? CRAZY s**t? Could they have even DONE any of that in the state of the world today? And of course, I'm not stupid enough to think that there's not still a whole bunch of crap going on behind the scenes that isn't going to be noticed, but the odds of keeping secrets these days has increased exponentially.
I know that our great-grandparents can make this same claim... as when they were kids, they pretty much had the one toy. Made of wood. But, yeah, things have changed drastically in this category. So, when we were kids, my sibs and I had our bikes. We had action figures... although they were relatively new things on the scene, and had a long way to go to reach the coolness of action figures THESE days. We had board games. And, in the 80s, we got Cable TV, Betamax and a little later on, CDs. Wow, we were on the cutting EDGE. My seven year old can navigate an online RPG in 3 dimensions with one hand while collecting pokemons on his DS with the other. My four year old can strip down a 500 piece Bionicle figure and rebuild it into an 8 legged robot monster fish in 10 minutes. When we drive to Colorado every summer (a 13 hr trip), my kids watch movies on the DVD player in our laptop or play interactive games on their handhelds. My sibs and I had Mad Libs. And punching each other. The 7 year old snags my iPhone and watches youTube movies, or plays Boggle to kill time in line at Home Depot while I buy wood to build new shelves to hold more of his toys. My sibs and I had our teeth-jarring metal-wheeled roller skates that were just waiting to hit a piece of gravel and send you to the hospital. We would make up elaborate stories with our Buck Rogers figures and Barbie dolls in the Barbie Dream House that involved quite a bit of drama and weird plasticky approximations of what we assumed sex was. It's true that kids play no matter what they have to play with, but the sheer variety available now... and the complexity. I mean, just look at some of these toys next time you are in a toy store. The spaceships, trucks, dolls, planes, monsters, tools... and that's not even talking about the electronics stuff. Does the variety make them better than what we had? I suppose I should give some homey answer here about how it used to be about "imagination" and blah blah blah. Toys today ROCK. F**k Monopoly.
My experience with food is probably slightly different than most of my peers from my gen. After all, I was a kid right at the birth of the processed food era and a lot of my friends were eating Kraft American Cheese slices, Oscar Meyer Bologna and TV dinners. My mom was a healthy food nut, so I was stuck with a lot of early-day health food. And let me tell you, now that there's this health food craze, there is a LOT more to choose from, and most of it tastes pretty good. Not so much in my day. I didn't get Trix or Lucky Charms for breakfast, I got something called Famillia. Which is like a slurry of raw oats and nuts and raisins and whatnot. Just what kids love! But the entire food market has changed drastically in the last 30 years. Drastically. Maybe you remember when fast food pretty much meant McDonalds and KFC? Maybe you remember when the massive majority of America wasn't obese? That s**t happened in 30 years! Can you believe that? So fast! There were still farmers back when I was a kid. Food was being factory farmed (since the 60s), but not to the point that it is today. Corporations run so much of our food-industry now... In the U.S., four companies produce 81 percent of cows, 73 percent of sheep, 57 percent of pigs and 50 percent of chickens. Yikes! We all know population and financial gain is pretty much solely responsible for this... I mean, there are a whole lot more people on the earth now than when I was a kid. And factory farming seems to be an easy answer, but I'm pretty sure we have learned in a very short amount of time that factory farming is bad with a capital B. Ethics aside, it's taking all our water to raise animals at this scale not to mention other natural resources and the shocking scale of pollution these methods cause. I don't know that a 10-pack of Chicken McNuggets with Sweet and Sour sauce is worth it.