Last night, while I was watching Lords of Dogtown, I was thinking to myself: the kids from twenty years agi did a lot of the same things that we do today, but with fewer means. So I asked myself: what generation of the past century had the best time, as for goes to appreciating life, having fun, feeling well, enjoying things, being creative, etc.?
Some factors to bring into the discussion:
Does the advance of technique make us feel better or do we just more easily take things for granted?
Is there a level in society that works as a golden middle? Such as, when our economy is so good that we have money to spend and not worry about unemployment, but still aren’t facing weird cutbacks. Or when popular culture is good and inspiring and plentiful, but not just too much?
Could the generation of young people *appreciate *what they have? It’s easy to be young and cynic when you have nothing to compare with. Can there be a correlation between level of nostalgia of old people and how much they enjoyed life back when?
The Sixties. We had evertyhing, or so it seemed. A bright future, sheer numbers, it felt like the world would be ours for the taking. Even with the war and there was a little bit of paranoia about the government, there was a feeling of optimism and hope. We were able to do most of the things we wanted to. We didn’t have to worry so much about gangs, psycho murderers, predators, etc. We went out, we weren’t tethered to video games.
The above is filtered by 40 years of rose colored glases and nostalgia probably.
Not even close. I wouldn’t trade anything to be a kid today. No freedom to go anywhere unless you’re shackled to an adult, very little outdoor play, all “structured, constructive activities” and “play dates” and “extracurricular activities.” It’s like all the spontaneity has been sucked out of childhood. And all the good toys get recalled or are never made due to safety concerns. Look at the playgrounds: not a merry-go-round to be seen! Everything is just static and still. They’re pushed way ahead of their natural ability in school with lousy books and questionably trained teachers, and spend hours each year on pointless standardized tests - and they have to go through metal detectors and endure a dozen bomb threat evacuations a year to do it! No, thanks!
I’m going to vote for the 60’s, as well, although I didn’t live through them. Sex, drugs and rock and roll aside, it was a time of hope, when people actually thought things were going to get better.
It seemed like we were shedding the shackles of control on adolescents.
For the first time the music was varied and evolving touching not only on love, but sex, folk lore, war protest, drugs and other emotions.
For the first time we could wear our hair and clothes any way we wanted.
For the first time and maybe the only time we could put ourselves through university without a crushing student loan. I did it with a total of about a $2000 loan with 12 years to pay in addition to government grants and working income from a robust economy.
We could get a driver’s licence without restrictions at 16.
We could have free sex without condoms without worrying about venereal disease. If you contracted a disease it was treatable. No Herpes or AIDs.
We were there for the moon landing, Woodstock, Expo 67 and the excitement of the war protest and the civil rights movement.
When I went to high school, many of the girls wore mini skirts.
And mostly, as a group, our generation during the sixties felt we were improving society.
I’ve heard it said that the sixties are more fondly viewed by men who were young at that time than by women. A lot of sexist attitudes allegedly persisted even among men who were liberal or even radical in many other respects.
I’m sure lots of young women also enjoyed the greater freedom of the sixties in terms of social and sexual behavior, but it wasn’t until the “women’s liberation” movement really got going in the seventies that youthful radicalism fully embraced respect and equality for women.
By “young people,” I think the OP meant teenagers. They have as much freedom of movement now as they ever did. OTOH, the other things you’re saying about children today – smothering attention, overprotection, too much pressure to perform/succeed – probably apply to teenagers as well, more than at any time past.
That’s the big difference between the 60’s and most other generations. That times they were a-changing, and everybody knew it while it was happening. Things were exciting, and young people were optimistic…
I don’t think younger people can really grasp the uniqueness of that decade, and how we were so totally different from preceding generations. Remember, that’s when the term “Generation Gap” was coined. Our values, even in their diversity, were substantially different from even those of our older brothers and sisters.
The important thing is that we truly believed (realistically or not) that we were making radical, permanent changes in society. And that belief, in and of itself, has never existed in the decades since.
And younger people cannot know the experience of buying the most recent Beatles album on the day it came out, and hearing the music for the very first time.
Granted, the OP is more of a subjective than definitive question, but if the ability to go to Afghanistan with a only couple of hundred bucks and wander around in a cloud of hashish for several months is any yardstick of “had it better,” the 1960’s trump the 2000’s.
70s weren’t so bad, either. We could still do extremely dangerous stuff, had reasonable access to transport (Bike, parents had cars, etcetera), more toys than ever before, electronics… heck, build your own stuff was in. Early robotics… and computers.
And as far as music goes, well… Some good stuff. For those slightly older, it was still before AIDS. Admittedly, we did have to face the fact that we could all die in a nuclear holocaust.
I was just thinking this morning about playing “school”. All you needed was paper, pencils, a couple lawn chairs and ME…Miss Bossy Pants (as teacher). We’d play for hours. I dunno…do kids today even play that way anymore?
We had a great childhood. We lived behind a farm, had tons of outdoor activities that were unstructured, TONS of friends and bicycles. I wouldn’t trade it for today’s techno-play for all the money in the world.
The '60s. My parents were teenagers then, and I’ve heard a lot from them about what it was like to be a kid back then. Neither of their parents were particularly well off, but they pretty much echoed what everyone else here is saying… 1960’s India was a nice place!