Changes since 1960half full or half empty?
Youth more "independent" because of high-tech entertainment (e.g., video games, audio systems, personal computers)
Less freedom for youth to "run free"
Several more contributions have come in through the list since Monday's consideration of the question: "Have the social changes since 1960 made for a much better society today than then? What changes do you think of as bringing progress (positive), and which have brought social decline (negative)?" I will consider those inputs in the following thoughts intended to "unpack" the propositions in the table above. "Unpacking" means I'll give more detail and explain what I mean by my choices of changes.
Bill George commented on the "positive" item above, "I don’t view this as positive, this is due to lack of parental guidance." Though in listing it in the positive column I mean to direct attention to its "good" side, this item is a double-edged sword no matter how you turn and look at it. The top item in the "negative" column, "less freedom for youth to 'run free'" isn't exactly its mirror reflection, though they are related. In casting youth as more "independent" because of high-tech entertainment, I'm thinking of the fact that large cross-sections of adolescents are able to while away countless hours on their computers or game consoles, and can remain occupied even during breaks by listening to their ipods. I think every parent/grandparent knows the double-edged blessing/curse of having a teenager come along on a trip, totally engrossed in either their portable game consoles or their music players, or both. It's nice to not to have to entertain them and for them to be quiet...until you would rather have some company and some human interaction, which is hard to come by in such circumstances.
It's positive that teenagers don't "have" to socialize as much as we did in our teens, but of course it's negative that they don't "get" to socialize as much; we suspect it stunts their development into socially adept adults. These days, there are relatively few dances to attend, no record hops, and most group activities apart from hanging out in the mall (like "parties," or even "raves" or concerts) seem under the threat of alcohol (not completely missing in the pre-sixties teen canteens, high school gym dances, and even roller skating rinks), and more dangerous drugs from ecstasy to pot to heroin. Though we all knew peers who had booze just about everywhere teenagers congregated in "our time," at least in the late '50's the more restricted drugs were virtually unknown in our part of the country.
The greater "independence" of today's teens complements the greater involvement of work obligations in homes where both parents work. On the negative side, Bill George wanted to substitute "freedom" with "safety." And on this item Paul said that on a recent visit to Nanty Glo he thought the area still seems quite safe. But my impression is that there's less freedom to play in the woods, open fields, and vacant lots which, as we've found in discussions here in the past, was a big factor in most of our lives pre-1960's. They might be no less safe than a generation ago, but my impression is they are more restricted by no-trespassing rules and even fences meant to keep nonresidents out. This, in turn, is likely a byproduct of the "suit-happy" or "letigious" society we've turned into...property owners just don't consider themselves safe when kids and teenagers are running "wild" through their property, knowing that a broken bone means thousands of dollars in liability claims almost always in this generation.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy
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