I read a post on Facebook that triggered a little thought trail that I wander from time to time – would it have been “easier” living 50 years ago without all of the fast-paced goings-on that our society is known for today?
The post talked about an older generation that didn’t have “a green movement” like we see today for environmentalism, yet they reused milk bottles and had paper instead of plastic bags and walked instead of driving a lot of places, etc, etc… It reminds me a lot of small town life up north because I have a hard time picturing how that would even work here in suburbia where communities are more spread out because distance isn’t the limitation that it once was, and as much as I’ll be the first to shout from the treetops that I don’t think I could ever really adapt to small town life after finally “escaping” a little over a decade ago, there are certainly parts of me that wonder what it would’ve been like…
…to have the family business to go into where I suppose you might not really get a choice, but it makes sense in so many ways to just keep on doing what your family has always been doing, be it farming or running the general store or whatever.
…to have that kind of physical work built into your daily schedule that “exercise” simply isn’t something that you have to think about after you’ve been tossing hay bales and chasing pigs around all day!
…to not have the constant urge to update and be connected with the entire world, all of the time, and to enjoy that family togetherness that comes from everyone living in the same town so that everything – not just Christmas or special occasions – are a time for family.
Granted, I think part of this thought process comes simply from feeling exhausted and idealizing that world as more free from problems than it really was … science was in a much different place back then, and being stuck in one path can be just as much stifling as it is easy, and my biggest pet peeve from back home will always be the simple notion of how a lack of diversity in a community holds it back in some ways that are often times ugly and cringe-worthy.
Plus, for what it’s worth if I really sit down and analyze it, although they can just the same make my life more stressful at times, having options is something that I take a lot of great value in. One of the big reasons why I left Northern Michigan was simply in feeling like there wasn’t enough for me there – jobs, social life, opportunities in general – and although the Internet today is doing some impressive things to bridge that gap back home that I never would’ve expected, at the end of the day I think having choices as opposed to only the one that’s laid out right there for you is a valuable one, and modern society gives more opportunities for that than ever.
Not to mention … I love the Internet! I love sharing the stupid things that come into my head on Twitter, and I love posting pictures of my food, and I love having an immeasurable wealth of knowledge available at my fingertips that simply was not there 50 years ago. I love that instead of reading three paragraphs in the encyclopedia at the library about a given topic, I can pull up Wikipedia and read more than I’d ever think to ask about something that’s been put together and curated by fanatics and experts who are passionate about that very topic. The access to knowledge in our current times is something that I couldn’t possibly discount no matter how entertaining the mechanic down the street is when he shares his own knowledge on a particular topic!
Maybe it’s one of those grass is always greener scenarios – it’d be neat to live that lifestyle that my grandparents lived maybe for a week, but the war certainly wouldn’t have been as much fun, and the generation before that had the Great Depression which I’ve read was kind of a downer! I guess each generation has its pros and its cons, and all we can do is try to live our lives putting more things on the right side of the scale than the other during the time that we’re here.
Who knows – a hundred years from now, people might look back at my time and think, “Boy, life must’ve been so much easier before hyper transports and intergalactic warfare dominated our lives! Also, those tree things seem like they would’ve been pretty cool – too bad there aren’t still any of them around…” 😉