Socially, would I have fared better in the 1950s-1970s?

I sometimes have a strange wish to live in, say, South Korea, Germany or the United States in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, because it seems people were more straightforward, simple and honest back then. Since I have no firsthand experience of that time period (I was born in the late 1980s,) am I looking at history through an unrealistically rosy lens?

I don’t have Asperger’s, but when it comes to social interaction, I struggle mightily with grasping sarcasm, satire, nuance, irony or hidden meaning. My brain just takes things at face value. I’d absolutely fail at being a politician, lawyer or secret agent, but that’s a different topic.

I don’t have a *simple *brain - I can think very complex thoughts indeed about music, technology, history, etc. - but when it comes to modern society and how some people often layer things or meaning under many layers of nuance, code phrases, jargon, doublespeak, etc. - well, my brain just can’t decipher it. I cannot stand it when people say one thing but mean another, or are inconsistent.

I know, decades ago there were no computers, smartphones, and healthcare sucked, and life was miserable in many ways, but socially, might I have fared better in 1965 than in 2015?

There was as much sarcasm, satire, nuance, irony, inconsistency and hidden meaning in the 1950s-70s as there is now, as far as I know.

I doubt it. Some people have a rosy view of the 1950’s but nobody got to live in that decade for long no matter how much they liked it. If you were born during the early 1950’s, you would have been a teenager or young adult during the late 1960’s when everything was changing and most things were more tumultuous than today from sexual trends, politics to fashion. The 70’s weren’t good years in general either. The economy was in recession or stagnation for most of it and there was crisis after crisis served up with side dishes of more problems.

The 80’s weren’t that bad except for some of the fashion styles but they did require that former flower-children to rapidly adapt to a consumer lifestyle in which greed and extreme consumerism were embraced. Why wouldn’t you? We were told that we were going to be destroyed in a full-scale nuclear war with the Soviet Union at any moment and that was a very plausible threat.

I would pick the 90’s as my favorite decade during my lifetime but that really only includes the late 90’s when everything lined up just right but the current era isn’t far behind at all.

I may be in the minority in this opinion but I think we are in a new wave of social conservatism right now but that doesn’t mean what you may assume. It means that people, especially younger people, are adopting their own really strong values that favor a long-term outlook rather than simple reckless abandon. Many formerly liberal or progressive ideas of the past are technically conservative ones now. The specific ideas may be different than in the past but it is just an updated set of values that were more common in earlier generations rather than the Baby Boomer’s prime years.

Probably more because a lot of it was unacceptable to say outright in polite company at least. People don’t change fundamentally just because the year on the calendar does. They buried unacceptable innuendo in movies, books, TV and magazines exactly as deeply as required and sometimes that was like burying an elephant with a scoop of sand and others it was so well that hardly anyone would ever find it through casual viewing. That wasn’t important if you never noticed however.

Think of old Warner Brothers cartoons. The offensive and suggestive shit they buried (sometimes very shallowly) in those was incredible and deliberate. The point is that people had all the same stuff back then as they do now (and sometimes much worse) but they hid it better and you had to know how to reference and with whom to stay within social bounds. That is the exact opposite of what you are asking for

In previous decades, I remember people using much more innuendo and hidden messages than they do now. Now you’re allowed to say the things people then only hinted at. The only real exception I can think of is racism and other similar things, where open declarations are much more verboten than previously.

You’d be very happy in the '50s . . . as long as you’re male, white, christian, straight, able-bodied and -minded, at least middle-class, etc.

Sarcasm, satire, nuance, irony and hidden meaning have almost certainly existed as long as humans have had language. They are what Shakespeare’s plays are built on. I learned the meaning of sarcasm from the Peanuts comic strip in the early '70’s. As others have pointed out, one thing that might have changed slightly since then is that some previously taboo topics are now less taboo. But that only means that they used to be discussed in coded language, making it more difficult, rather than easier for you to follow conversations. Don’t forget that the Southern strategy and the dog whistles of racism were introduced during the period that you are referencing.

Back in the “good ol’ days” there were rules. Lots of rules, which everyone followed.And many of those rules contained a lot of hidden meaning.

For example, the way you dressed was critical. In the 1950’s-early 60’s, my mother dressed me up in a suit and tie to go shopping in the special place called “downtown”. She wore a nicer-than-average dress with a necklace, and had her hair done in a salon the day before.
All this was done because those were the rules, and you had to folllow the rules, in order to show the rest of the world that you were a respectable person.
There was a lot of hidden social meaning behind all this: the right hair style for women, the right clothes for men, the right way to behave in public (removing your hat when entering a building, for example).
And if you didn’t do it all properly, you would not fair well socially.
People would look at you and think :" stay away from him–he’s acting like the colored folk do"

To the OP: You may think you are socially inept today…but I suspect that you are better off now than you would have been back then. The hidden meanings you have trouble picking up on today are minor obstacles, that just make you feel uncomfortable. Back then, they would have been major stumbling blocks.

Boy, you (the OP) are really really REALLY wrong! Really. Wow

The majority of people were not empowered to speak frankly. Even those white Christian straight able-bodied and -minded middle-to-upper-class males labored under social constraints most if the time.

So they used all sorts of innuendo, coded language, hints, allusions, doublespeak, etc. constantly.

At least we now have the option to use direct language and other non-ambiguous means of communication.

If a male coworker was hitting on a secretary in 1960, she had no options other than to demur, parry, hint, etc. if she didn’t want to lose her job. Miscommunications and exploitation were inevitable. These days, she might try demurring, but if that doesn’t work, she is empowered to say “knock it off” straight out. If necessary, she can go to HR and in extreme cases, even bring a lawsuit. The unabiguous communication you want is happening now, not then.

If the guy hitting on her was well-meaning but kind of socially oblivious, he’s a lot better off in 2015 as well. If he misreads her initial “soft” refusal, the more direct “knock it off” will keep him from being a pest - or worse.

ETA: also what chappachula and SpoilerVirgin said

In the 50’s, men wore hats and women wore hats and gloves.

Definitely true. And people were quite happy to make fun of anyone who was different, sometimes behind their back, sometimes in front of it. People handle eccentricity much better today, and smart eccentric people are fine. Back then if you weren’t Einstein, forget it.
If the OP doubts this, I invite him to watch some of the original Twilight Zones in this context. Serling was reacting to his environment.

When Walter Cronkite did a news broadcast, he simply said what he wanted to communicate straightforwardly. Viewers were expected to take it at face value. Contrast that to a Daily Show broadcast. Or compare a Johnny Carson routine to David Letterman. I think that’s the sort of thing that Velocity was referring to.

I also agree with this. As someone raised in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I think we have become much more aware of the varieties of human experience and behavior, and much more tolerant of outliers. Bullying is obviously still a problem, but there is at least a consensus that it is a bad thing.

Now, for a social life you can live in the internet; you couldn’t back then.

The Daily Show isn’t news. The six o’clock news is still irony- and subtext-free, which is why TDS has such a good time mining it.

We used to only know what was presented on the news; today we have news, and we have what’s really happened that normally doesn’t break on the normal media. That’s why TDS can mine the news for satire; because what’s said is too often completely opposed to what is actually happening.

For a decade after it’s arrival, oral contraceptives were referred to as ‘the pill’. Because, oral, birth control and contraceptive were strictly taboo. I was young at the time, and remember asking people what kind of pill it was, as it was being much talked about upon its arrival. I never once got a straight answer.

I vote it’s much better now, than then. Watch a Bogart and Bacall film, you’ll see. They danced around everything!

Doctor, come quick, we have a suspected case of Americanitis.

On a serious note; the 1950’s were generally good for the people who were living then. After two world wars and a great depression most of the world was at peace. Anti-Biotics and vaccines and other medications had improved both quality of life and its duration.There was a general increase in the standard of living. Technology was expanding faster then anytime before, what with Jet planes and TV, and home applicances (probably felt more like us actually, with us getting a new fangled toy every month).
Which is why the 1950’s are looked at with such rose tinted goggles and why the 1990’s are also being increasingly so looked as.

Still called that.

And Mr Wizard wore a tie.

A wizard wearing a tie; sorry, but that’s fucked up.

Velocity, a truth I have realized: The “quota” of Human Frailty never changes. It may be distributed differently differently vs. generations ago, but the same amount is present.

So the amount of sarcasm, irony, etc. that a person encounters in every day communication is largely unchanged, it just is expressedly differently. It would be nice to think that things were “simpler” then, but they weren’t. There is no “simpler” times - humans have always been Human.

We all look for escape from our current situation at times. Seeking simpler times is ultimately less effective that figuring out how to position yourself to deal with the people you talk with daily. Good luck.