Although some things have gotten better in recent years due to TSA Precheck, etc., yeah, I don’t see how you can say flying wasn’t a lot better 1992 - 2001 (I say 1992 because that’s when smoking was finally nixed on international flights) than it is today.
You had real carry-on luggage back then. The barely checked size and didn’t check weight at all. I would carry multiple bottles of Scotch on flights back home (I guess duty-free still makes this possible to an extent). Flying was not super expensive, and sometimes you’d have a whole row in the plane to yourself to sleep on.
Obviously, some of that stuff was not conducive to airline profitability and had to change, but regardless, it really was better then.
All that you say is correct, but I think my chief point is that US society as a whole has lost its positivity, when in turn makes it harder to be positive as an individual unless one does as you suggest: fight fight fight and muster all your tools to get through shit. I just feel fatigued at this point. Like can I just sleep a few years?
You are right! But actually you reminded me of another important point: actual progress has slowed or even been reversed. E.g., wage stagnation. One reason that corporations could propagandize us with “more more more!” is that more and more was what most people were actually experiencing for their whole lives.
I think the social change has come too fast for society to digest. I can absolutely sympathize, however.
And for me, the idea of a life partner who provides any real support of all sounds like the ultimate luxury. I have never experienced that for any length of time.
Not to fixate too much on the airline experience, but even as a user of Precheck when I travel in civies, I don’t really feel right about it. It feels like yet another way we have offered those with money (and time) a way to cut the line.
Maybe it’s confirmation bias, or just because I see it every week while I’m working. But when I see Precheck I think of all the people who DON’T have it. How they feel seeing people who paid extra get privileges, and more importantly all the other ways we do this. Again, I think it adds to layer upon layer of apathy and hopelessness.
I don’t know if you had to be young to feel this, but yes. I spent ages 10-17 in a rural community in a lower middle class household in the 90s. My parents who were objectively terrible parents on almost every measure ran a small business with boom and bust periods that required so much work that they often slept on the floor at work overnight rather than come home. So I was a freaky little somewhat poor liberal with two conservative parents in a rural conservative community. They thought my idealism was cute. My adoptive father, a staunch conservative, and, I later learned, virulent racist, listened to NPR, and we would talk about it. We spent hours and hours talking about politics without any sort of negative connotation. I can’t imagine such a striking disparity of political beliefs would result in anything other than high conflict and estrangement today.
I was not a sheltered kid. I was not safe at home and I was extremely aware of the racism in my family and my community. There was a lot I didn’t understand, but I had plenty of hard times. But my perception of what was going on in society at large, in the external world, was not, on the whole, negative.
9/11 took place during my first week of college, and the fucking world fell apart. It’s hard to describe how much that rocked me and people who experienced it at that age. I had a roommate from New York City who didn’t know where her father was, we had people from all over the world holding symposiums and student support groups while offering their take as individuals from various countries in the Middle East. People were freaking out about Bush. It was a political awakening like nothing I ever experienced with those long conversations from my childhood. Maybe if you are older than me, it wouldn’t faze you, but for me it was life-defining. I was also going through a lot of other stuff at the time.
The Columbine shooting was another event in the 90s that devastated me, but 9-11 was the beginning of a new era. Like you said, there was before and after.
I was 30 when 9/11 happened. I don’t know if the “after” really was fully realized until we started the disastrous war in Iraq and that failure sunk in, so I may have experienced on a somewhat different timeline than you did. I think it would have taken a very strong political vision at the time to prevent the “after” or at least mitigate it. Perhaps we could have avoided being huge dumb dicks killing a lot of people.
However, my dad’s side of the family is from NYC, I still have family there, and my best friend lived in Manhattan at the time. I had interned for my MBA in New Jersey in 1999 and spent a lot of time in the city, and I had had a job interview in the city and walked between the towers in 2000. So those were additional reasons for it to affect me. It certainly didn’t feel distant.
I grew up in a moderately conservative household, and I voted for the “Contract with America” in 1994 when I voted for the first time at age 23 (I had been in Japan in 1992 and would not vote in a US presidential election until 2004–I was always in Japan and never tried to do the write-in thing, which was a pain at the time). Anyhow, I hated Bill Clinton (with good reason, I think, in retrospect), but I despised Dubya from the moment I first saw him, and I was a strong supporter of Gore in the 2000 election, and I’ve basically been a pretty solid Liberal ever since then. I would say I wasn’t very political until the year 2000 but have been rather political since.
We were chatting with my conservative friend the other night and he was saying Millennials are choosing not to have families. We said, no, Millennials are increasingly not having that option, for various reasons ranging from wage stagnation to student loan debt and grandparents and other family refusing to help with kids when that was historically the norm. He says, “Well, Millennials are actually driving the luxury market.” (I don’t know if this is true.) As if Millennials are choosing not to have children and instead to buy electric cars or something.
The way my husband put it to him is, many Millennials have accepted that they are never going to have the option of a house, kids, perhaps even retirement, and have resigned themselves to spending the relatively small amount of money they do have on fun stuff.
I don’t know that it is entirely rational and I don’t know if it explains the entire picture, but it’s absolutely true that many people my age and younger have just given up on the American Dream as our parents understood it. It’s probably one reason why many of us refuse to work shit jobs and long hours because there is nothing worth working that hard for, really. If you can’t buy a house or have a family and that’s what you most wanted out of life, what’s the point?
“People were excited about technological progress” is an exaggerated trope?!
The polling on trust in government has been done for a long time, and the differences between now and say the 1960s are striking.
You said “harmony,” not I. Yeah, even in the 1970s we had the phrase, “battle of the sexes.” Not sure why that isn’t still used, or something close to it, since it is apt. The point, however, is that feminism was spurring some new conflict.
I think it is obvious that the level of antagonism today is much higher, however. You would disagree?
Further, men and women used to be much more eager to be together in the form called “marriage,” and women were worried about becoming old maids in their 20s (Joan Rivers had a standup about this, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube just now). I’m not saying all of this was great and healthy, but I think the positivity about pairing up and procreating in the past was obviously much greater.
I think one funny thing about Conservatives is their implicit assumption that things are just supposed to work right forever, and if they stop working the way they did, it’s people’s fault! It’s as if they are applying religious logic (if something is bad, it can never be God’s fault) to the economy.
I think once we got out of an agricultural economy, kids became “cost centers” instead of “profit centers,” to use modern business speak. IOW, on the farm, having a bunch of kids meant having a bunch of workers. Plus, in most societies, they were working in your field under your supervision, so you could see the benefit of their labor (even if you couldn’t keep it all).
After we passed a certain point in the 20th century, all that kids required began to cost parents more than it benefited them, but this happened slowly and didn’t become part of the Narrative. Plus, all the cultural inertia behind having a big family and celebrating kids was still in place. That kind of thing goes away slowly.
Add in better birth control, and you have a recipe for demographic disaster (I’m also participating in the population decline thread elsewhere). But I have never seen a Republican say, “Hey, maybe the economic system just doesn’t work that well any more.” (Strike that, Tucker Carlson of all people was complaining about this a few years ago: Tucker Carlson Was Right About the Working-Class Family - The Atlantic. But it’s rather uncommon.)
In short, our economic system no longer works, but we have nothing good to replace it with. I don’t think there’s some kind of magic socialism or something that would be plug and play.
I sort of would disagree. What I see is more polarization on gender issues. There’s more ugly extremism, but it’s not representative of where most people land. And I think most people land on having a pretty good relationship with people of the opposite sex. My own perception is that there is a much higher number of men who explicitly endorse gender equality than there used to be. It looks like progress to me.
Even this message board. Do you remember how bad it used to be for women? And that was when I joined in 2007.
Yes, but isn’t this in and of itself a gain? “Negative” is often spectacular, so it is sold heavily by the media because the object of news is ratings, not balance. That tends to skew our outlook, sometimes severely so.
Look at all of the marvelous human accomplishments over the last 150 years alone. 150 years ago, heavier than air flight was a subject of science fiction along with “horseless wagons”. Science and particularly medicine were still in their relative infancy. Electricity was in its primitive beginnings, and heat was still from a fireplace. Communication was a joke. If the King of England was assassinated, you had to wait weeks to find out via a letter from England brought by ship by a messenger. Now, we have access to a world wide information database sitting in our pocket. Transportation was a joke, also. Travel and commerce were arduous and time consuming. Now, you can buy something while sitting on your couch and have it the next evening.
Sure, along with the great positive advances I’ve mentioned, we have also made great advances in our ability to utterly destroy ourselves and, in harsh reality, we may still very well do so. Nevertheless, there is hope. Turn that frown around! LOL
When I started following this board (1997), I deliberately chose a gender-neutral handle that would make the guys who are blind to what women and men have in common assume I was male on the rare occasion I contributed. There was some small satisfaction when I finally revealed I was female.
Nah, I think a lot of what you (you’re male, right?) perceive as positivity about marriage was rooted in (women’s) fear of singlehood. I’m not sure you can really know just how intense, although subtle, the constant pressure was on single women to save themselves from a lifetime of alleged misery and despair by achieving Picked By A Man status.
Of course I’m not saying that there weren’t, or aren’t still, a lot of genuinely happy marriages between couples voluntarily choosing a life together for healthy reasons. I’m just saying that the societal messaging to women that, deep down, they HAD to get married, OR ELSE, ultimately wasn’t really based in positivity.
And that’s a large part of what led to all the cultural crisis of marriage and family life as the working woman’s “second shift”. Sure, many couples worked out mutually satisfying egalitarian arrangements in one form or another, but the general trend was for most housework and childcare to remain the responsibility of women, even those working outside the home.
The fact that many women nowadays are realizing that they don’t actually have to get married, and that a marriage needs to provide something more than Picked By A Man status in order to be a real improvement over happy singledom, is IMHO a healthy development and is going to improve marriage in the long run.
In the meantime, of course, a lot of men are having to cope with a relatively new anxiety about the prospect of possibly never being Picked By A Woman. It used to be that the societal pressure on women not to become old maids (or to remain lonely widows or divorcees) increased the desirability of men in general as marital prospects. If significantly increased numbers of women no longer dread being single, that will mean that significantly increased numbers of men end up with a more precarious future when it comes to married domesticity.
Whereas I happen to know at least three couples of my own age or younger where the wife supported the unemployed or marginally employed husband for at least a few years. (And I also know several couples who took the more traditional path of the wife cutting back on, or entirely quitting, work outside the home for several years while there were young children to care for, while the husband’s earnings provided most or all of the money.) In all those cases, the husband’s expectations were still that the wife would do significantly more of the domestic work.
Yeah. There were plenty of male posters who were perfectly decent to us female posters personally, but the level of general toleration for all kinds of sexist and misogynist bullshit was much higher.
Men are apt to subconsciously perceive such a cultural shift as “geez I have to watch everything I say these days, seems to me this place used to be more relaxed and less uptight somehow.” Women are more apt to subconsciously perceive it as “wow this feels a LOT less stressful than it used to be”.
I also wanted to respond to this, as someone who does activist work. You are allowed to take a break. You are not singlehandedly responsible for carrying anyone or fixing everything. I went through some dark times professionally because of how much it took out of me. Burnout came very easily. I was busting my ass on this issue and everywhere I looked I saw evidence that nothing had changed. And I was making a battle out of everything online - including here.
And finally I went to a seasoned activist I respected and asked for help, and they told me that same thing. We are all working on this together. You do not have to be “on” 24/7. You do not have to sacrifice your sanity and mental health for any cause. It’s not sustainable. We would get nothing accomplished if we were all exhausted, demotivated and burned out. So by all means, take a break. Work it out in therapy. Find a way that works for you to make progress without feeling like the world is on your shoulders. Take care of you.
I don’t know about quantifiable “worseness”, but ISTM that a lot of the shit that people who weren’t white and middle class had to put up with back then was much less visible to the dominant white middle-class perspective of society.
The 80s and 90s saw a whole lot of cultural energy put into the effort not to let the social-liberation movements of the 60s and 70s “go too far”. Remember “backlash” “post-feminism”, and anti-affirmative-action crusades, and unironic “greed is good” slogans, and the “Moral Majority”? And the libertarians, omg, remember when the libertarians thought they really had a good idea?
A whole bunch of the apparent optimism and “positivity” in the dominant white middle-class viewpoint at the tail end of the 20th century was rooted in reactionism. Civil rights and Women’s Lib and other achievements for minoritized groups had been okay but they had “gone far enough”. They mustn’t change the fundamental reality of white heterosexual men still basically being the people in charge of things, with some comfortably infrequent feel-good exceptions. Now that the Soviet Union had finally crumbled and most people didn’t know enough to be worried about climate change, the future seemed to promise reassuring solidity for conventional privilege and property, leavened with just enough new social freedom to keep things lively.
A state of society in which a black man or a woman can actually be elected President, or where girls routinely outrank boys academically, or where white people are on track to become a minority of the population, or where the ability to speak Spanish is a requisite for lots of jobs, or where the Chinese economy can massively impact the American one, or where women aren’t frightened to despair at the prospect of remaining single, feels to many, many, many Americans like a society that has “gone too far”. I think that’s a huge part of the “shit of the 21st century” anomie that many people in the white middle-class male mainstream are experiencing.
Not to downplay the very real impacts of 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, the COVID pandemic, and so forth. All of that stuff is enough to get anybody down. But I opine that a lot of the hopelessness currently felt by a lot of the people who used to take it for granted that they somehow “mattered more” in society—and that applies to all us white middle-class cishet English-speakers, for example, not just the male ones—is a side effect of the realization that the world doesn’t actually revolve around us as much as we used to think it did. As the saying goes, “when you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Food for thought! I will have more to say about this in my reply to Kimtsu.
I joined in 2003, and it was a basically a warzone back then. Constant pit threads, constant conflict, constant attempts to get people banned, and constant bannings. It’s a totally different place now (mostly for the better–the only downside being less engagement overall, perhaps?)
So you’re undoubtedly right, but I didn’t think about the treatment of women specifically back then, I suppose.
But growing up as a kid in the 1970s, we were still landing on the moon (or had just stopped). The Jetsons was in syndication. You had Tomorrowland at Disney parks, and it wasn’t yet retro-futurism. Alcoa ads on TV. Plus, yeah, we actually thought there would be flying cars someday.
The idea that enthusiasm for technology wasn’t a thing is absurd on its face. It’s not a “trope,” either.
Actually… it seems more or less universally recognized that, whatever their faults may be, Zoomers are a very quiet, conservative (in the true sense), inward-turning, and basically square generation. They are pretty damn respectful.