Elbow room

I was running late, then the bus was late. When it arrived it was much much much more crowded than usual, so we were packed in like sardines.

This is day four of antibiotics for me, and I’m feeling more human each morning. I wasn’t the only person in the office either working from home because of illness or taking sick days over the last two weeks, so everyone’s asking each other how they’re recovering, et cetera. All of which caused one co-worker to point out that a good method to get a little space on a crowded bus is to sneeze.

I wish I’d thought of that this morning.

I’ve been poking at a few essays. One is about being bold in one’s creative endeavors. Another is about a pet peeve in a particular type of fantasy storytelling. And they are sort of related concepts, because both are the result of a particular kind of mental timidity. Except that connection isn’t terribly important to the point I’m working toward in either one. And I think I’ve been stuck in this infinite revision of the middle mode on both because the connecting concept is nagging at me.

Maybe ranting about one aspect of it here will break my log jam.

The “good old days” is a myth. An absolute falsehood. A lie.

Society absolutely was not nicer, kind, or less violent when you younger. Nor was it simpler or less stressful.

For most individuals, your life was simpler because you were a child—society and your parents conspired to keep many of the realities of life from you. You didn’t worry about paying bills, but Mom and Dad did. That’s only one aspect.

Crime rates, particularly violent crime rates, were much higher when you were a kid than they are now. They were even higher when your parents were kids. These are facts. What has changed is the speed and ease with which news is spread. The advent of 24-hour news stations means that people have to find ways to fill that 1440 minutes of air time on each of those networks every day.

So thirty years ago a story about a man who crawled into the window of a home, repeatedly raped the women who lived there, and killed one was reported in the local newspaper, and would have been mentioned on the evening news of the nearest city’s tv stations, but would probably not have been reported further.

Even if it was, it would get maybe a half minute in the evening news when the crime first occured. It may have gotten a minute or so 18 months later then the perpetrator was brought to trial, and maybe again when the jury convicted him. But that would be it.

Now we get hours and hours of “reportage” in which the two or three minutes of facts are repeated a thousand times, interlaced with hours of reaction, analysis, and comparision. That doesn’t mean that more crimes are happening, it means that we are being told about more of them and we’re fed a lot of filler about each incident, making them seem even worse than they are.

That’s just one more reason we fall for the lie of “the good old days.”

It’s a lie we wouldn’t fall for if we just stopped and thought for a minute.

2 thoughts on “Elbow room

  1. I wonder if we also romanticize the “simpler” times because we were so self-focused as children (which was encouraged by adults protecting us, whether they wanted to believe that or not) and now, as adults, we’re encouraged to think about others more. We’re also, as you say, inundated with information, when as a kid, unless a playmate or classmate or neighbor knew about something, we perhaps didn’t.

    I wonder what it will be like for the people who are kids NOW, 30+ years in the future. Will they still think of their childhood as innocent?

    1. I’m sure those factor in, too.

      The big blind spot is assuming that, because we can remember it, that we understand things as we do now. It’s like that study A few years about how different children in the same family perceive their childhood simply because each was a different age when things happened. The older kids don’t appreciate how much less intellectually and socially developed their younger siblings were when certain key events happened in childhood.

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