When is the beginning of the "modern era" to you?

I lived like that for a year as a child, and it really didn’t seem like a big deal one way or another. It looks like a big deal, but fundamentally it was just a busy active life. I look at my family, and the difference isn’t that my kid takes a shower when we make him: it’s that we spend all our time sitting in front of screens.

I’m not seeing the 1990s/2000s as being ALL that fundamentally different than say… the 1980s. Sure, there is the internet, and it’s changed a lot of stuff in terms of communication and knowledge, but we still essentially do the same stuff.

I mean, we still go to work (or we did anyway), we still drive cars, we still eat at restaurants, we still watch news and read newspapers, albeit mostly online. We still listen to music, and in some cases the SAME artists as before 1990. We still shop in grocery stores, big box stores, and specialty shops. We still go dancing and hang out in bars. We go to the beach, we go hiking, we go swimming, and all the other outdoor recreation activities we enjoyed before. We still watch movies and television. We still play video games. We still take airplanes to go long distances. We still use washing machines and dishwashers.

Technology hasn’t changed any of that significantly- maybe the channel has changed to a phone and ear buds streaming from Pandora instead of an walkman, a tape and some clunky headphones, but it’s fundamentally the same. The only things that have fundamentally changed are our degree of availability, and the ease with which we can get information, both of which have large effects, but nothing in terms of “modern” vs pre-modern. Life is not that much different really.

I’d say that probably post-WWII is the era when things actually change with regard to a lot of the things above- between increasing prosperity and technological advancement, a lot of the stuff I listed above (and a lot more) became feasible for the average person.

Seems super-different to me.

Growing up in the 80s was not so different for me than my parents or grandparents. We all had radio and telephones (not to mention electricity and cars and other stuff), and my parents had TV. If we needed information, we went to the library and looked at the card catalog to figure out where to find stuff. Pop culture changed but that’s all just variations on a theme; it was pretty static overall.

Kids today can spend their entire existence glued to a screen. Sure, maybe some kids previously became obsessed with books or some other thing, but screens provide a huge range of activities, from education to social interaction to entertainment. The combination of the internet and always-available computers made that possible. It’s only recently come to a head, with parents having difficulty raising their kids in the physical world, but it got its start earlier.

That’s been true of tens of thousands of years, though. Going to the beach to swim, have a bonfire, and grill some meat probably predates DPRK’s cities. Doesn’t really belong in a discussion about modernity.

1945-2000 - Modern Era.
2000-2021- Post-Modern Era.

To me, the old ‘modern era’ began in 1453, with the sacking of Constantinople and the subsequent brain drain to Rome being commiserate with the invention of the printing press, both helping to fuel the Renaissance and Reformation. The world which followed, from the Age of Reason onward, was a result of additional Greek scholarship being introduced into European society at the very moment it learned how to reproduce vast quantities of information quickly and accurately.

At least, that is how I was taught it.

So, in looking at today, the modern era began in 1969 with the first four nodes of ARPANET being connected, or in 1991 with the invention of HTML, or 1994 with the Netscape IPO, or 2007 with the release of the iPhone… whatever date future historians will point to and say ‘with this innovation, the greatest shift in personal communications since the printing press…’ that will be the start of the new ‘modern age’.

1969 or 1991 are strong candidates, and had Netscape stuck around, 1994 would have a better claim. And I didn’t mention it, but 2004 and the invention of Facebook bears mention as well.

But 2007 became the moment when humanity first began walking around with a $300 supercomputer which communicates with anyone else on the planet with another $300 supercomputer.

The iPhone is our printing press. 2016 was our Reformation, a process just beginning…

Ergo, 2007 is the start of our modern age.

Too late for ETA: and, personally, 2007 works as an answer for me. There are aspects of my 2021 life literally impossible to do in 2006. My God, thinking about the amount of time I spent chained to a desk or laptop just to read an article alone fills me with :scream:

2007 doesn’t work, because we were born before that, which makes us all pre-modern. As a thoroughly modern person, I have to think of the start of the modern age as taking place at some point before I existed.

I agree with all of this. (I was a schoolboy in the '80’s). But I still use books to get information, spend my free time hunting and fishing, don’t own a smartphone etc.

The 21st century. I can’t begin to say how much everything has changed since I was in high school.

I don’t think I articulated it too well; what I’m trying to say is that we do all the SAME stuff, but somewhat differently.

You can’t really say that about say… 1875 vs. 1945 though- totally different model in terms of how things were made, distributed and used. Totally different concept of entertainment. Totally different concept as far as that sort of thing goes.

Now we have smartphones and computers. With the exception of being prettier in terms of what they show, how you interact (touchscreens), they’re not THAT different. Certainly not enough to qualify a c64 from the 80s as somehow fundamentally different than a iPad.

What IS different is the Internet. Smartphones aren’t anything special- they’re just the confluence of small enough computers, touchscreens and full-time internet connectivity. And that last one is key.

But really… how different is life today with them than before? It’s changed in the details, but not necessarily overall. I mean, I STILL order pizzas. I may just use the app on my phone, versus calling. I still go to the movies- I may look up the showtimes online using my phone, versus looking in the newspaper on certain days. We used to take stupid videos of ourselves as teenagers and view them on the VCR in 1989.

What do we do that’s fundamentally different? Even things like YouTube are just TV at their core.

The ‘modern era’ resulted from the introduction of stored program computers and semiconductor technology, both in the mid 1950s. After that computers got smaller and semiconductors got bigger.

I’d argue there’s been a huge shift in social changes in some countries. In the US in particular, in regards to acceptance and formalization of same-sex relationships since 1990. Political discourse has changed. Though the latter can be traced back further a bit further than the former. Other changes, too. Those will, of course, vary by location. I don’t tend to think of behavior changes as much as I should.

As for smart phones, perhaps the biggest change isn’t exactly the tech, but the confluence of tech and social. Or career. Do people spend less time together? Are people glued to their phones instead of interacting with those around them? I don’t know - people just complain about it, but I don’t know how much those same persons might have buried their heads in newspapers, books, or magazines.

Work culture, in certain jobs, certainly changed a lot. Many types of office workers are expected to be able to be reached at all times now, to answer email in evenings or while on vacation, etc. And - and this may go back to the early 2000s, when cellphones became common - it seems like parents of college students expect more communication, keep an eye on the youth longer (including tracking/monitoring apps on their phones) and so forth. The sort of extended adolescence of the modern era. I’m not saying technology caused it, but it an avenue for the wider social change. Again, of course, that location-specific.

Too the contrary. Political discourse overall is flat with a current, short term, negative trend.

But does any of that warrant being described as a new “era”? I mean, you could easily argue that the introduction of TV or maybe radio was as much of a new era as the introduction of the internet/smartphones. Or the locomotive; for one thing, it allowed for something approaching modern travel times- in the late 1800s, it took about 4 days to go from New York to San Francisco. Prior to that, it was weeks - 43 days to sail to Panama, go across the isthmus, and sail from there to San Francisco. And even longer and more perilous by land.

That’s the thing- there are plenty of these sort of technological watershed moments; I’m just not necessarily sure the internet/smartphones is necessarily one that warrants a new era any more than the rest. I’d argue that in large part, our lives aren’t that much different than they used to be- we just use the smartphones to speed stuff up, or whatever.

The modern era to me was the day I was born. Everything before that was history.

The computer and the related semiconductor technology that makes it practical. There are lot’s of knees in the technology curve. The steam engine comes in a close second. But, the computer/semiconductor revolution has impacted worldwide lifestyles.

The unique characteristic of the computer is that it is a universal component. It is a high volume commodity whose end use is not determined at the time of manufacture. The capability of the device does not rely upon it’s arrangement of mechanical parts. All computers are in essence the same. Their performance is an extension of the human intelligence that provides the program. That intelligence, for good or bad, is extended into every aspect of our lives world wide. The vehicle for that extension is the computer.

We live in a computer/semiconductor world. It all turned on the mid fifties.

And would you describe living without electricity as “modern?”

In the U.S. there was a major push to bring electric and telephone service to rural areas in the 1920s and 30s. Along with the automobile and paved roads, a way of life that had been basically the same since the 18th century changed for millions of Americans.

You can’t leave out what access to railroads in the 19th century did for so many. Or, for that matter, how very much life changed during the 19th century because mass manufacturing. The differences in the goods available (and the price of those goods) was very different. IMO, the beginning and end of the 19th century were very different for rural Americans, even though the 20th century changes hadn’t come yet.

In the USA? 1968

For me, it’s probably sometime in the later 1800s. Let’s say 1870.

I still see horse-drawn wagons on the regular. And I’m talking about in a city of 5 million, not Amish Country.

By that definition, a large chunk of my city isn’t “modern”, and I dispute that.