These kids today, or “10 Ways They Have It Better Than We Did (?)”

As a fun follow-up to this post, here’s the text of an e-mail my sister passed along:

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school and back every day…in the snow…barefoot…uphill BOTH ways. Yadda, yadda, yadda…

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in heck I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it!

Now that I’m (WAY) over the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today. You’ve got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a dang Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don’t know how good you’ve got it! So let me tell you a few things…
1. When I was a kid, we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the dang library and look it up ourselves… In the card catalog!! (Do you even know what a card catalog is? Didn’t think so!)
2. There was no email! We had to actually write somebody a letter…with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!
3. There were no MP3’s or Napsters! (Napster? OK, I guess this one’s been floating around the internets for awhile..) You had to wait around all day to tape music off the radio and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and mess it all up!
4. We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that’s it! (OK, to be honest, I do kind of miss the days when you actually could be out of touch with people, and not constantly connected and reachable 24/7.)
5. And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent…you just didn’t know! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!
6. We didn’t have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! (Wii sure didn’t have a Wii!) We had the Atari 2600! With games like”Space Invaders ” and “Asteroids” and the graphics were horrible! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

7. When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn’t see, you were just screwed!
8. Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! And there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I’m saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons!
9. And we didn’t have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove or go build a fire…imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop thing or a pan with HOT oil and real popcorn kernels and shake it all over the stove forever like an idiot.

10. When we were on the phone with our friends and our parents walked in, we were stuck to the wall with a cord, a 7 foot cord that ran to the phone – not the phone base, the actual phone. We barely had enough length to sit on the floor and still be able to twirl the phone cord in our fingers. If you suddenly had to go to the bathroom – guess what we had to do… hang up and talk to them later.
That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled!
Despite the curmudgeonly tone, I do think that what we have here is a list of “10 Things That Are Better Now Than They Were ‘Way Back When’.” We old folks are just envious of the younger ones sometimes, methinks. (Except for maybe having to hang up the phone when you needed to go to the bathroom – I still think that’s a pretty good idea.)

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  1. I am not sure I think kids today are better off because they have certain advantages that we didn’t have–at least not for all of them. Easier, yes. Better? In some, maybe many, ways. But definitely not all. I think that there’s a certain value to having to work hard to get to what you want, rather than having it so quickly at your finger tips. Not to mention the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you put in the effort to reach your goal.

    You’ll never convince me that e-mail is better than old fashioned letter writing. As a life long pen pal, I treasure the hand written letter much more than I ever will an e-mail. People pay less attention to detail and quality. Easier, yes. Better? I don’t think so.

    I completely agree with you about Caller ID. I love that feature and wouldn’t want to throw that away for anything. And stadium seating–finally! Let’s please accommodate the shorties like me!

  2. LF – Wendy, I have to agree with you about letter-writing vs. e-mail – in principle, anyway. But my handwriting is so bad these days (from not using it) that I even write the (rare) letters I send on the computer, which probably just contributes to the cycle…

    Hey, I had a pen pal named Wendy for years! But she was in England and she’s my age, so I know she isn’t you. 🙂

    If a movie’s not playing in a theater with stadium seating, I just don’t go to see it anymore. Even though the tall guy’s sitting next to me and not in front of me now, it’s definitely the way to go!