Things have changed

Now, it’s November 5th; New President and all.  I’ll bet more that a few of you immediately thought I was going to be talking about that, however you’d only be partly correct.

The fact of the matter is, yesterday I voted for a black President.  It was either him, or another candidate with a female Vice President nominee.  That doesn’t seem much right now, as half of us are still not too happy with our choice not winning.  It might not seem like a whole lot to us in 2012.  But think of what it meant to us in 1992.

Did you know there’s a layer of atmosphere that protects the Earth from UV rays?  It’s called the “Ozone Layer” and it is effected by the release of certain chemicals into the air.  It may or may not also be what causes “The Greenhouse Effect”.  Common sense now (even if it is still debated), but what about when they started teaching it to me in 3rd grade?

Now, I know I’ve posted before on how “the kids today ____” thereby making myself sound like the crotchety old guy that everyone makes fun of.  This is not one of those posts.  I am not trying to point out how much better anything was back then, or how lucky kids have it “now days”.  

The inspiration for this post was actually something quite different.  I was driving home yesterday and listening to the radio.  I wasn’t really even paying attention until I heard the DJ call out the next song: “Here’s Lisa Mikovsky’s new song ‘Still Alive‘.  The theme song from ‘Mirrors Edge’.”

Just to reiterate there; the DJ on a major radio station was playing the theme song to a video game.  This is normal in other countries (I’m looking at you Japan) where video game companies scout out musicians like the Disney Channel, but in America it’s not all that common.  For whatever reason, this felt like the moment where I was vindicated as a video gamer.

No, we aren’t all just dumb kids playing a violent game.  Yes, video games can (and often do) carry artistic value within them.  Yes, video games are right up there with movies and television shows in terms of culture.  A game doesn’t need to have a movie made about it to be big (though it does help if all you want is money).

After listening to the song, I sort of marvelled in the revelation that my children may never know of a world where video gamers were the socially outcast; 8-bit jokes were only understood by a subculture, you were unique because you knew the level up code for Earthworm Jim, and no one new you were humming the boss battle music from Sonic.

As I continued to think about it, however, I realized that my children wouldn’t know a lot of the things I grew up with.  Sure there’s the classics, staples of Americana, that everyone in the industrialized world will know; Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr Who.  But what about the others?  The Abyss? Ghostbusters (movie and TV show)?  Aliens?  Back To The Future?  That’s an entire era of pop culture that we will live to see in history books.

My kids will never know of a Germany with a wall down the middle of it.  Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia will have never existed.  The USSR will be to them like the Nazis were to us (well, not quite as evil, but you know what I mean).

Now, none of this is really a bad thing.  I don’t bring it up because I pity them; I bring it up because it’s boggling to think of how their world view will be different than ours.

  • A black man or a woman can run for President, no problem!
  • The world doesn’t trust the USA, and hasn’t since that whole Iraqi War debacle (compare that to how we were the “go-to” country while growing up).
  • Video games are more common place in home media than broadcast television.
  • Movie rentals don’t exist.
  • The idea of asking a question and NOT being able to find an answer immediately will be completely alien! (I remember having to spend HOURS at the library on their microfilm archives and EBSCO-IS database).
  • No one will know what “Lower Lights” was. 
  • They will have no clue who Shirley Temple was (so people can finally stop advertising those movies).
  • “I Love Lucy” will finally stop being referred to in modern culture (another very good thing).
  • The idea of a space race will be laughable.
  • Environmentalists will protest the drilling of geo-thermal wells, instead of oil ones.
What else can you think of that simply won’t exist in our children’s lives?  Things that you have always taken for granted only because you remember them from your youth?