How Life Has Changed in 30 Years

As I approach my 40th birthday and the birth of my first daughter, I’ve been thinking about how life has changed since I was a kid. What will the world in which she grows up be like?

Growing up in the 1980s and early ‘90s, my family didn’t have a home computer (not until I was in high school). There was no Internet, and if I wanted to play with a neighborhood friend, I just walked over to their house and knocked. There was no texting.

I asked my friends and family how many things they could think of that were commonplace 30-40 years ago that either aren’t around anymore, or wouldn’t be around in the next ten years or so. The list was long. Here are just some of the things I got to see/use/experience that my daughter will not:

  • See live animals at a circus, or watch a dog race.
  • Rent a movie from a video store (Blockbuster, Family Video, etc).
  • Look up a phone number in a phone book, use a payphone, or memorize phone numbers.
  • Use a typewriter.
  • Read a TV Guide or the Weekly World News.
  • Live in a house without air conditioning/use a window AC unit.
  • See someone smoke indoors or use an ashtray in public, a cigarette vending machine, or a car cigarette lighter.
  • Develop a roll of film or use a disposable camera.
  • Use a chalkboard or writing slate at school.
  • Write and mail a handwritten letter.
  • Use a fax machine or write a check.
  • Manually roll up or down a car window.

If you visit a living history museum that re-creates life over 200 years ago, you will see that the average person lived in conditions that were quite different from today. Aside from a few common objects, it’s almost unrecognizable. That change didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual. Piece by piece, new technology replaced old. That happens in our own lives and we often don’t even realize how different things have become.

What are your thoughts?

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