A comment I made in this blog yesterday that I remember when there was no MTV got me thinking about other things that or common today that we only imagined on the Jetsons. I think older folks stating things like, "When I was your age I walked seven miles to school everyday... uphill... both ways" has always happened, and as I get older, myself, I am starting to think the same way. Life gets easier for each generation, therefore each generation gets... softer.
I want to be careful that I don't, directly, say that young people are lazy. I would describe it as more of a sense of entitlement that is driven by the fact that advancements in technology and a, generally, strong economy since the mid-seventies.
MTV was just the tip of the iceberg of things that we gained since 1980-- which besides entertainment, it didn't have any real value. Cable TV though, as a whole, changed things dramatically. Overnight, we went from six channels (two of those had bad reception) to sixty. We used to get three channels of news three times a day, but all of a sudden we were bombarded with 24-hour news stations. Movie channels, history and science channels, food network and home and garden TV, as well as stations showing cartoons, classic TV reruns, religion, government and weather allowed viewers just about any information they had interest in.
Our family got cable later than most of my friends but not compared to when we got our first microwave. It seemed like years that I was amazed when people told me they could cook bacon in a few minutes or heat up leftover pizza for breakfast instead of eating it cold. You mean you can cook a TV dinner in the amount of time it takes me to pre-heat the oven?
Another question for the youth of today. At what age does a child require their own mobile phone? Today's cell phones are a big improvement over my first one, twelve years ago, at the age of 30. Our house had one phone (right in the middle of the, very private, kitchen) with one line when we were growing up. They call dialing a phone "dialing the phone" because it had a dial on it that you had to put your finger in and turn for each digit. If you were trying to win something on a call in radio show you had to start a minute and a half before they gave out the number. And we were lucky! Good friends of mine had a party line (shared with another family) until, at least, 1986.
None of these things, though, made as big an impact on our lives as computers. My dad was a programmer so I was aware of them from an early age but we would never consider having one in our home... because they were bigger than the house! By the time I got out of grade school they had got them down in size a bit and even video games had made it from the arcade to the home with the introduction of Atari. It was nothing like the gaming systems of today but, at the time, they were the coolest thing in the world!
In high school I used my first personal computer-- a Commodore 64, but when I took my first computer class, during my Senior year, we used punch cards and the BASIC language to program giant machines to do very simple tasks. The cards went away like the metric system in the following few years as the computer technology advanced at the speed of light. I didn't even get a chance to take the only Computer Graphics 101 class in college before I graduated because my Career Counselor said it was a fad but, not a year later, I was working on my first Macintosh system and I haven't been able to keep up with the trend yet.
It took a few more years for Al Gore to invent the Internet, allowing users to do and learn and play even more and, as far as I can tell, unless a super-huge particle accelerator makes a mini-black hole that swallows up the earth and all it's surroundings, the possibilities are endless.
When I had my brain attack last year, the doctors and therapists told me that they have seen more and more strokes in young people recently. Although, I can't blame my inactivity, totally, I do believe that technological advancements leading to less work and more play made me lazy and contributed greatly to the event.
So, readers... I have a simple request. Get up (after you're finished reading this blog-- of course) and do something. You don't have to walk to school seven miles... uphill... both ways, make dinner without use of modern appliances or hire a personal trainer and get a gym membership... just do something: step away from the computer, get up to change one of the 207 TV channels (or even better, turn it off for a while), go for a walk with a friend, chase the kids around a while or your wife, for that matter. Even George Jetson took Astro for a brisk walk every night!
Think about how all of these, and hundreds of other advancements have made our lives so much better. They are all good... but that can be very bad for us.
Editor's Note: This article was supposed today and I had another that was supposed to run yesterday but I am not finished with the SkeetzTeez design to accompany the story. Therefore I am not pitching any specific design today, but don't let that discourage you from browsing: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez