HOW TO BECOME SOCIALLY OBSOLETE
My 60th year on this planet is fast approaching. Less than 18 months away. Very scary. I’m still a teenager in my head, but my body is falling to pieces. This is something nobody tells you. Nobody says if you do this, that or the other, your body will rebel by the age of fifty. You get no health warnings, I was always told the sport and fitness was good for you. Turns out not to be true. I played rugby and football up until my mid forties, and it broke my body. I have serious problems with my back, neck and knee. I keep moving with the aid of painkillers. Off- topic but this is my first warning. Be aware, your body will rebel if you put it under physical pressure. Take exercise with care. Main thing is moderation in all things. Don’t over exercise, don’t over-eat, don’t over drink. Boring, but true, anything you do to excess will damage you in the long term.
Think about this… Everything you now believe will be usurped over time. All the things you believe to be self-evident will become ridiculous and obsolete over time. Your fixed views will become as outrageous to coming generations as were the views of the 1930’s are to mine.
Imagine. Go back 60 years to before I was born… That takes you to 1900. Wow! What was that like? In my city, Birmingham, the majority of the population were living in terrible slums. There water was from a stand pipe in the street. Cholera was still an ever-present danger. Child mortality was 100 deaths per 1000 births within the first year of life. 10 women per 1000 died in childbirth. Imagine how that impacted on the families of that time? By the time I was born 1960, infant mortality was down to 3-4 per 1000, and maternal mortality was almost insignificant. Socially, things change rapidly. We are capable of social and cultural changes which develop so quickly and ubiquitously, that whole generations can be left behind in a perplexed and lost state.
If this is a little dry try to think about this.
I was using computers back in 1987. I edited a magazine and used the University Computer to cut and paste the magazine copy. I couldn’t scan in pictures and had to cut and paste the finished galleys manually. The computer I used was the size of a large classroom, but it used ms.dos and was no more powerful than 640 megabytes. It was basically a word processor.
Now, my phone has something like 200 x more power than that computer which was housed in a massive room! Incredible.
These are analogies. Technology and social Health over short periods of time ave been changed beyond all recognition. And yet, we adapt and cope with the changes.
We are hard-wired to accept, adapt and acimilate changes like these. And we can see them happening. We can appreciate the changes for what they are.
What we fail to realise is that culture changes with a similar rapidity.
In 1900, everyone went to church, religion played a significant role in every household, yet by 1960, it’s role was obsolete for a vast proportion of the population. I never went to church in my lifetime. I think I may have gone to Sunday school a few times, but I can’t remember it. My children have never been to church beyond the obvious social occasions… Weddings, Christenings and Funerals.
In 1900, entertainment was in Musical halls, Theatres, or singing around the family piano. Now, we are entertained remotely, through all of our electronic devices, and for the most part in isolation. Entertainment is no longer a social event.
My point? Everything which each generation holds as their social identity, their social mores, their communal shared beliefs, all become obsolete and out-moded. I see myself as a socialist, a feminist and anti-racist, but all of these political and social positions are not immutable, over time they have all been eroded or switched. When people like feminist Germaine Greer, are shown to be out of date with her views on Transexuals identity… It highlights how deep the social changes cut across generations.
So, live long enough everything you ever thought will become wrong. Our culture becomes a crusted petrie dish left in the back of an old refrigerator… Only to be pulled out by some cheap TV show, with talking heads pointing and laughing at the things we used to believe.
This is a word of warning to you millennials, who have a fascistic tendency to see all old people as ridiculously out of date with their beliefs, you too will become out-moded and obsolete and your beliefs will come crashingly dull and boring. I just hope that your progeny will be more accommodating of your mores than you are to my generation of old farts!