When I was 17…
In case no one has noticed, I have a running theme where I title my blogs after a song title. I did this time as well, but it is an old song, and most people will probably miss the reference. It has become increasingly difficult in my old age to ignore how much the world has changed since I was in high school (which was not that long ago,for the record ). In light of my upcoming ten year reunion that has subsequently been canceled, I have decided to take a look at how far we have advanced in a decade.
In 2000, Sprint was the first cell company to offer wireless data service, with the other providers quickly following suit. This was a huge deal, it meant that we could access the internet on our phones! Of course, back then, that meant waiting five minutes for your phone to load a page that barely resembled a website. Oh, and let’s not forget the enormous charge that your provider charged you for trying out your new data services. Not to mention the unspeakable charges for texting. That is, if your phone was capable of texting. I was one of those people who had a beeper at an early age, and was eager to jump on the texting train as soon as it became available, so I got the new phone and texted everyone I knew. I wasn’t met with a warm reaction, however, because most of my friends were being charged a million dollars a text message and their parents wanted me out of their lives.
When my friends finally did join the texting world, we found that it wasn’t always a time-saving venture. Sometimes it would take up to twenty minutes to create and send one text, since there was no auto-correct or keypads, not mention the amount of times you would have to re-send before it would actually go through. After that, you would wait quite some time for a response; and if it was a close friend whom you usually heard back with haste, you ended up calling them anyway only to find out that they never received the text.
Now, we don’t even think twice about texting, and whether or not someone has it in their cell plan. If someone says they aren’t able to text, we instinctively look at them as if they have two heads. No one wants to make phone calls anymore. Most people don’t even know their own mother/brother/husband’s phone number because it is programed into their phones. Why waste your time talking into the phone when you can text and browse the internet at the same time? Or you can listen to your Ipod and have a meaningful conversation without ever having to move your lips. If your fingers are tired, or you are concerned about carpel tunnel (aren’t we all), some new smart phones have the option for you to just speak into your phone what you want to text. So you can yell at your mother while driving to the store to pick up your new Ipad without breaking any laws. It’s all about multi-tasking people.
At the risk of sounding like a literary snob here, I really love books. I love the smell of them, the feeling of a crisp new book in my hands, or even an old one that has been aged over the years. There was a time when you had to go into the library and walk through the aisles to find what you were looking for. Or if you wanted to purchase said book you went to Barnes and Noble or online to Amazon . The exciting part of book purchasing was looking at the interesting cover art, the thickness of the book, and reading the synopsis on the back to determine if it was worth buying. And if you are like me, you would read a couple of pages in the middle of the book to see if you like the writing style.
Today, books are about to be a thing of the past. With the Nooks, Bundles, Ipads, whatever other electronic device you have to download it onto, people are opting to buy books for much cheaper price then actual printed copy. Why buy a classic like The Great Gatsby for six dollars when you can buy it for two dollars and read it on your Ipad while waiting for your oil to get changed? Who needs the inconvenience of turning pages and carrying around a heavy book? Bookcases take up too much room anyway. Besides, there will be a movie re-make of it coming out soon, so if you don’t read it in time you don’t have to worry.
There were a lot of great things that came out of the 90’s, and some of the greatest television programs are amongst them. The difference between ten years ago and today is that TV executives were a lot more strict about what was acceptable for the general viewing audience. That, and laugh tracks were a lot more noticeable back then. There used to be a thing used in programs that is referred to as innuendo. Maybe you have heard of it? Ten years ago, prime-time TV had to use innuendos when referring to sex, drugs, or anything overtly homophobic. Shows that were aimed at teenagers always had some underlying PSA, complete with your standard stereotypes. When the “good girl” suddenly went bad, she automatically donned a nose ring and started smoking Smoking cigarettes was always the sign of someone who was either poor, from the wrong side of the tracks, or had been possessed by another person’s spirit (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Whenever anyone had sex on these shows, they never came right out and said it, they used innuendos. If someone had a drug problem, it usually never surpassed smoking “grass”, and other cast mates admonished it quickly.
Today you have the likes of Gossip Girl, a show that started with a girl who escaped school after a scandal where a GROWN man died while snorting coke with her. She almost slept with him before the overdose, and she only went to his hotel to escape the guilt of having just slept with her best friend’s boyfriend. Mind you, this was her FRESHMAN YEAR. The rest of the cast openly drinks at upscale bars in New York without ever being carded, does a multitude of drugs, sleeps with endless people(married adults included), and black-mails members of high society. This is all before they graduated high school. You also have shows like 16 and Pregnant, a reality show on MTV, which was supposed to have been set up to warn teens against teen pregnancy. Yes, I have seen the show. I have also read the stories about the groups of teen girls who have gotten pregnant in an effort to make it onto the show. This show not only glamorize the life of a teen mom, but it makes me feel like my brain cells are leaking out of my ears. With all of the reality programs out there, kids know about things that I wasn’t aware of until well into high school, because these shows are on before their bed-time. Let’s not even get into what damage these shows are doing to this generation’s language skills. Jersey Shore, anybody?
On the plus side, we have some great programs with some really intelligent writing. Now that we are allowed to push the envelope more, we as an audience get the benefit. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family are some of the best show I have seen in a long time.
There is so much more to say on this topic (,of television especially) but I will save it for another time. I have to get back to checking my multiple social networks and see if anyone has messaged me.