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The Past Wasn’t As Good As You Remember it So Get Over It

History Cat

While I am not sure if I am included in the statement anymore (since I am old)  but I hate when people talk about how “this” generation is the worst one ever.  A quote that brings a smile to my face whenever I come across it is,

The Children now love luxury; they show disrespect for elders and love to chatter in place of exercise.  Children are tyrants, not the servants of their households.  They no longer rise when their elders enter the room.  They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs and tyrannize over their teachers.”

Written over 2,400 years ago by Socrates it is a wonder that the human race made it is as far as we did, huh?  There is no generation in American History which is better than the preceding one:

  • The United States currently has the lowest teen birth rate since we started keeping track 70 years ago.  There were always overactive forceful teenage men as much as there always has been adventurous females.
  • We have had over 20 recessions in the last century – 15 of them lasted over 10 months.  This recession is not new phenomenon.  We were overleveraged just like we were in the early 90s and in the late 20s.
  • It was only Forty Three years ago that interracial marriage was illegal.  Could you even imagine a time? Somehow same sex marriage is still illegal?
  • There were always have been and always will be drugs.  Sears-Roebuck sold Heroine. How f’in ridiculous is that? Imagine calling up Amazon for some H?  And all you Baby-Boomers don’t go saying it is different…when you were taking LSD that was bad! You can’t just go around taking hallucinogens and blame it on experimenting.
  • It was only 70 years ago when nearly the entire industrialized world was at war with one another.  Imagine that today! The American Civil War claimed 625,000 U.S. Military Lives in 4 years, the War on Terror? 5,491 in 9 years.
  • Is it that hard to go back in American History to find a group of immigrants being blamed for stealing jobs?
  • Porn and Prostitution has literally always existed. Like Literally.
  • When was that pesky event when baseball players were accused of cheating? Late 90’s or was it 1919?
  • We saw 8.0%+ Unemployment in all of 1975 and from Late 1981 to early 1984 we even had a few months with over 10% unemployment

Am I pessimistic? Absolutely not.  Do I want more drug use, teen pregnancy, financial hardship, deaths, and ill will toward a particular type of citizen?  Absolutely not.

What I would like is that people realize the past that they idolize just isn’t as amazing as they remember it and to live in the present.  Embrace current culture instead of demonizing it.



  1. This is no doubt the greediest generation though. And our children will not enjoy the same standard of living we did. This is a mathematical certainty. Unless health care reform is either repealed or completely overhauled and we reign in entitlement spending, we’re witnessing the decline of an empire. Not from a geographical sense, but from a prosperity standpoint. Happened to Great Britain across 19th century; happening to US in 21st century.

    • “This is no doubt the greediest generation though”
      – Only 29 here, but wasn’t the 80’s known for its greed?

      While I am with you regarding reigning in entitlement spending…what do you mean by “And our children will not enjoy the same standard of living we did. This is a mathematical certainty.”

      – Do you think technology is going to get more expensive?

      • 80’s was known for greed – and it’s that same generation that’s about to start drawing massive amounts of benefits from SS, medicare – that we can’t afford.

        Our standard of living issue is multifaceted. At the highest level, this country borrowed and spent more than it had – to the tune of $14 Trillion now according to today’s national debt. Now the deleveraging has begun. EU has embarked on austerity measures and we will have to eventually too. When the bond vigilantes are done pillaging Europe (did you see what happened to Portugal’s debt offering today? blown out) – when they’re through with the EU, the US is next. Our interest rates will have to rise, inflation will increase and our country can no longer offer the same level of services and assistance that it did to the current generations – the most optimistic projections demonstrate that this is mathematical certainty.

        Think of it as a consumer who lived off credit cards for their whole life. Finally, the card companies are saying – “OK, no more minimum payments. We want our money back and we’re charging you higher interest as well.” This is the US. That consumer can no longer enjoy the same lifestyle they once did. They need to tighten their belt and live within their means – this is not something the US has done for decades.

        So, our children will be forced to bear this burden.

        • I get the macroeconomic part of your equation, but what I can’t wrap my head around is the micro.

          I don’t see the children of the EU having less than their parents? Maybe in terms of social programs but not technology?

  2. Those are some great points. Even today, I catch myself saying that kids growing up now are total snot-heads and dont ever have to lift a finger to do anything (apparently people have been saying that forever, haha)
    Agree with parts of what darwin is saying – unless the gov’t can rein in spending, somethings going to have to give. Not sure what it is yet, but it will.
    Great work!

  3. When I started reading, I was wondering where you were going with this – but you ended the post beautifully!

    Every subsequent generation should have it easier than the previous generation – that’s the law of nature! Most don’t focus on the good aspects and you point that out nicely!

  4. Thank you for this post. Next time someone comments on our generation being the worse I’m going to use some of these examples.

  5. People fondly remember the past, because memories are better than realty. Without trying to sound like Pollyanna, my best days are tomorrow. I have done everything I wanted to do and I have no regrets.

  6. The funny part is you will find people who were living under oppressive regimes (Russia or china) still feeling the past was better!

    what’s with reminiscing on the past? Is this our nature?

  7. I’m not sure if I’d rather have people taking LSD or Meth (more common nowadays). Thoughts?

    • I don’t think either is very good…although I wrestle with whether I think all drugs should be legal or just marijuana

  8. This is an excellent post. I wonder though if the birth rate is lower because the abortion rate may be higher? (Just guessing, I have no idea.)

    I think my kid’s generation is incredibly spoiled and I don’t think kids work nearly as hard as they used to. Or maybe I am just in a different economic situation now than I was in growing up, and it is really still the same.

    I often think back to my grandma’s generation and wonder if they would have ever strategically defaulted on their mortgages and such. I doubt it.

    • “This is an excellent post. I wonder though if the birth rate is lower because the abortion rate may be higher?” – The Wife made the exact same point when she read this post. I don’t know the answer but you could be right.

      “I often think back to my grandma’s generation and wonder if they would have ever strategically defaulted on their mortgages and such. I doubt it.”
      – I doubt it also, but at the same time your grandma’s generation had separate drinking fountains and routinely hung black men for looking at white women….

  9. Your quote from Socrates was an eye opener for many. Living conditions may change, but human nature is a constant. Time seems to erase some bad memories and enhance the good ones, but reality is, as you so aptly point out, those “good old days” weren’t really so great.
    As for me, I am 64 years old and looking forward to the best years of my life.
    Great post, Evan!

    • “As for me, I am 64 years old and looking forward to the best years of my life.”
      – I can’t believe you are 64! You look so young.

  10. The olden days were better, because we’ve forgotten the bad stuff.

    I can remember when my kids were newborns and other parents would say things like “Oh, they were so easy at that age”. Meanwhile, they are up half the night, puke and other stuff all over the place and generally wreak havoc with your life. 🙂

    I think those parents forgot about the bad stuff and just remember the days when the child would stay in one place and wouldn’t talk back. 🙂


    • I think you hit the nail right on the head. We choose to forget the bad – I was talking to The Wife about child birth and she said it was HORRIBLE and that her mind seems to be forcing her to forget it or there would be NO way she’d sign up to do it agian.

      So while those 1950’s children were skipping to school and watching the Lucy Show…they forgot about the Korean war and the fact that 10 years earlier 400K soliders were killed…

  11. Somehow the past becomes nostalgia; it’s what we want to believe and romanticize. But you listed great examples of humans just being humans throughout history!

  12. Sounds exactly like what my mother used to say: “The good old days weren’t so great!”

    Now that my own salad days are the “old days,” I’ll second that. Does your generation have it worse than ours? Will you never rise to the elevated standard of living we enjoyed? Gosh, that’ll be rough.

    When I was 27, we didn’t have…

    Even moderately safe passenger cars
    Full lap & shoulder belts in our clunks, much less air bags (well, a few foreign cars had decent seat belts — Mercedes comes to mind…everyone could afford one of those, right?)
    Cars with fuel-efficient engines (except for the VW Bug!)
    Equal access to decently paying jobs for women and people of color
    Equal access to public accommodations (that means bathrooms, restaurants, swimming pools, hotel & motels) for people of color
    Personal computers on every desk
    Printer/copier/fax machines on every desk
    Fax machines, period
    Cell phones
    The Internet
    High-efficiency central air and heating units
    Soft contact lenses that don’t hurt
    Jet plane fares cheap enough to convert flying to something like what we experienced as bus travel
    Robot vacuum cleaners
    Vacuum cleaners you can pick up with one hand
    Superefficient clothes washers
    No-frost refrigerators and freezers
    Microwave ovens (well…we may have had them, but no one could afford them)
    GPS units
    Well insulated, intelligently designed tract houses (nooo…our tract houses weren’t built any less cheaply or any more carefully than today’s starter homes)
    Good cheese in every grocery store
    Highly acceptable inexpensive table wines (most Americans didn’t drink wine at all, come to think of it…and they thought “cheese” was spelled K-R-A-F-T)
    Korean noodle soup
    Organic fruits and veggies in every supermarket
    Diagnostic tests to catch breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer early
    Treatments with anything more than an outside chance of working on those ailments
    Antipollution laws that helped make the air over most big cities more or less breathable
    Cable TV
    Satellite TV
    Digital radio
    An entire library in a hand-held gadget
    Incredibly cool astronomical photos piped directly from NASA to your desktop

    Ahhhhh, the good ole days! So sorry you young pups will miss out on all that high livin’! 😀

    • Hear Hear!!!!!
      Don’t forget about not having air-conditioned cars/houses, interstate highways, incredibly great sound quality (when did you last listen to an LP or 78 record?), the ability for girls to wear pants instead of skirts to school and work, indoor plumbing and central heat (at least in my case)and more importantly – the Remote Control!

  13. I mean it is important from which angle are you looking at the problem. Actually this is not a problem by itself this is an every-day life. Certainly there are some different points from the previous life style: we have much more tasks and demands on our children than our generation could expect from its surroundings. We have better medical treatments but worse conditions of the environment. The advance technologies help us to communicate but we don’t know each other personally. Well, maybe this is the way where the mankind is walking…

    • ah Julie

      “Well, maybe this is the way where the mankind is walking…”

      Kind of sounding like Socrates…

  14. @ Darwin, we do need to overhaul healthcare. I don’t know if this new legislation will work but I do believe everyone needs health insurance. As for being the greediest, I don’t know. I think the internet makes access to thinks like porn and prostitution much easier but I don’t know if it has increased it. I don’t demonize this generation. I think trying to understand our current generation leads to accepting that things aren’t different.


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