There’s a nostalgia for the past that I’ve never understood. Life is better now than it has ever been in the history of our planet.
It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good, and a lot better than it was even 50 years ago.
As a thought experiment I thought I’d compare 2013 (when my oldest son is 9 years old) to 1980 (when I was 9 years old). And I’d do it from the perspective of someone who is living recent history backwards.
So here are some thoughts from a person who was 9 in 2013 and grew older through the 00′s, the 90′s, and 80′s.
15 Things I Miss About Growing Up in the Year 2013
- I miss all the restaurants we got to eat at when I was growing up back in 2013. I remember my family going out for Thai and Indian, sushi and pho, Mexican and Korean. We still have some good restaurants in 1980 but not nearly the diversity that I took for granted 30 years ago.
- I miss the specialty shops we used to go to that sold great cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, or frozen yogurt. “Treats” nowadays are often just a box of Oreos, which are OK, but not nearly as good as those fresh donuts we used to walk up the street for every Saturday.
- I hate how much worse crime rates have gotten since the historical lows of the 2000′s. Throughout the 80′s the murder rate has been almost double the rate it was in 2013. Crazy! What’s happened to society?
- I hate living in a world where the fear of nuclear war hangs over us every day. When I was a kid in 2013 we almost never heard of the threat of nuclear attack. Now in 1980, nuclear war with the USSR is a constant topic on the news – and it’s scary.
- I miss how close all the families of my friends were when I was a kid in 2013. It seemed like my parents knew every one of my friends, their parents, their siblings. We did lots together with other families that I went to school with. Nowadays parents rarely know the names of the kids in their child’s class let alone all the families. Yeah, I do like that kids have more independence nowadays, but there was a closeness and intimacy that was lost along with all that parental meddling.
- I miss all the special activities we could do. We had rock climbing, and kayaking classes, and mountain bike camps – well, I could go on for a long time. We could do anything. Now there’s a summer camp where the kids can go swimming every day, but if you’re not into swimming – tough luck.
- I liked that we had more and better solutions to the different problems kids faced. A friend of mine had a hearing problem and back in 2013 we had these tiny hearing aids that were embedded into his ear and allowed him to hear. Pretty cool. Whereas now kids have to wear these huge aids that look like you’ve got a walkie-talkie attached to your ear. They’re big bulky things that don’t work that well.
- I miss the smart and witty kids’ shows that used to be on TV. Phineas and Ferb, Johny Neutron, Shaun the Sheep. I remember my parents watching them with us and saying, “Wow, these shows are actually pretty good.” Nowadays kids sit around and watch Family Feud or reruns of Three’s Company and I just cringe. The shows are so bad.
- I miss how Lego’s had characters and involved storytelling. Now they’re just blocks.
- I miss the food trucks that used to come to our neighborhood. You’d know what truck came on what day. Monday was the barbecue pork truck, Tuesday was the taco truck (which we hated but my dad loved so we’d get to eat freshly fried churros for dinner), Wednesday was the hamburger truck which made these little tiny burgers called sliders. It was so much fun standing around on the sidewalk eating dinner.
- It sounds strange but I actually enjoyed going to the dentist. They had games and iPads and usually gave you a toy. I don’t know, they just made it fun. But taking the kids to the dentist now, it’s so depressing. It feels like going to a government agency with flickering fluorescent lighting. Plus, the technology itself has gotten a lot worse, but that’s another topic.
- I miss the farmers’ markets that were everywhere. I tell the kids now how fun they were, and they’re like, “Go shopping for vegetables, fun!” – but they were fun. There were always tons of treats (brownies, cookies, homemade ice cream), a band played live music, and they were often in a park so we’d see all our friends there and run around and play and eat. It was great. 90% of the farmers’ markets disappeared between 2013 and the 1980s, so they’re pretty rare now.
- I miss how you felt like you had the world at your fingertips. If you got interested in samurai warriors you went on the internet and found out everything about them. You could read a bunch of articles, or watch a documentary, or find a blog that was totally devoted to them, or join a forum where they talked about nothing except Samurais. Nowadays you can go down to the library where you’re lucky if they have a book or two on whatever you’re interested in. You can order something from the bookstore but you sort-of just take what they have available and hope that when it arrives in a month that it’s not terrible.
- Of course, I didn’t think about it much at the time, but I wish cars were as safe as they were back then. Safety was a big issue whenever you got in the car. There were seat belts for everyone (and they actually worked), there were air bags, and the cars were just a lot safer. There were still too many deaths but it was safer. The traffic fatality rate was just over 1.0 in 2013. Today it’s almost 3.5. Teen driving deaths have increased almost 4-fold as well. So driving was a lot safer back in 2013.
- I remember how easy it was to keep in touch with my cousins on the other side of the country. We’d post videos of what we were doing, you’d see photos of every new piece of clothing my cousin bought, it seemed like we knew everything that was going on with their lives. Now they send over a picture or 2 every Christmas and you hardly recognize them. We try to phone each other but the calls are so expensive. Back then, in 2013, calls were pretty much free, or close to it. I never remember my parents saying that we couldn’t make a long-distance call. But everything is so expensive now.
Growing up in the year 2013 – man, did those kids have it good.