The Technological boom began in the 1950’s and grew slowly and steadily for the first 20 years. Then in the 1970’s Technology began to speed up and change at an ever increasingly smaller interval, with technological advances that once took 20 years now taking days. A comparison of life in the 1970’s to a life in the 2020’s reveals significant changes in various aspects of society as a whole and as individuals. These changes are the result of tremendous technological advancements, regularly shifting cultural norms, economic developments, and global events. Some of the key differences in our world today are:
- Technology: 1970: In the 1970s, technology was much simpler compared to today. Personal computers didn’t exist, cell phones only existed on Star Trek (The Communicators) and most communication was done through landline phones and handwritten letters (Can you imagine a child today doing that?). Music was delivered over broadcast radio, mostly AM radio stations that focused on top 40 types of music. In the mid 1970’s FM station became popular for playing more variety, but you were still stuck with hearing what they wanted you to hear. Televisions were common, but they had limited (3 VHF and 3-4 UHF) channels and broadcast options. Cable arrived in the mid to late 1970’s but it was expensive and awkward.
2020: Technology has revolutionized daily life. The internet, smartphones, and social media have transformed how people communicate, access information, and entertain themselves. Smart devices, artificial intelligence, and high-speed internet have become integral parts of modern life. Music and most other forms of entertainment are all on demand and at our fingertips. At what cost though? Apart, Together.
- Communication: 1970: Communication was slower, and people relied heavily on postal services (It amazes me that the postal service still exists) and landline phones (Does anyone still have those?). Long-distance communication was expensive and time-consuming. Things like Caller ID, and call waiting had not even been introduced, let alone 3 way calling. Party lines, where small communities shared a common line was still common outside of the larger cities.
2020: Communication is instant and global, thanks to the internet and smartphones. Social media platforms, email, video conferencing, and messaging apps allow people to connect with anyone worldwide in real-time. In the very near future there will nowhere on earth unreachable by digital communications! All contributing to less “in person” time with other people. Closer together, Apart.
- Travel and Transportation: 1970: Air travel was less common and more expensive. Most people traveled locally or regionally by car or public transportation. Most people never left their hometown until they were adults. We all believed we would be driving flying cars by now. 2020: Air travel has become more accessible and affordable, leading to an increase in global mobility. Ridesharing services and advancements in electric and autonomous vehicles have also transformed transportation options. It is possible to get to LA from NY faster than one could have taken a bus to the nearest city in the 1970’s. No flying cars yet but self-driving vehicles controlled by an artificial intelligence is upon us. While Space exploration was opened up in the 1970’s, space travel has become a reality to some extent.
- Health and Medicine: 1970: Medical technology and treatments were not as advanced as today. Life expectancy was lower, and diseases like polio were still a concern. Primary care doctors were the same as your parents and were often in small hometown offices. Doctors knew your name and your medical history, and it was shared openly with other medical professionals without fear of lawsuits and litigation.
2020: Medical advancements have led to significant improvements in life expectancy and quality of life. Diseases that were once deadly are now treatable or preventable. Biotechnology and genetic research have opened up new possibilities in healthcare, while at the same time creating a pharmaceutical nightmare. There is a pill for every ailment known to man, none are a cure but may help with some of the symptoms if it does not kill you first due to the side effects created by the use of such chemical compounds. The advertisements for medicines that “I should ask my doctor about” with no reference of what the medication is actually for, and the Dr’s getting perks for prescribing the deadly chemical cocktails. Medical information is supposed to better protected and kept out of the hands of those who use it for nefarious reasons but that doesn’t actually appear to be the case at all. Dr diagnosed you with Anxiety and 2 minutes later there’s that ad for the anxiety pill.
- Social Norms and Values: 1970: Social norms were more traditional, and societal attitudes towards issues like gender roles, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial equality were often less progressive. The 60 had passed and so had peace and love, racism and hate ran rampant through the world. The Nontraditional sexualities were deemed miscreants, the dregs of society and were ostracized and tormented. The values of the elders were not often questioned.
2020: Societal norms have evolved significantly. There appears to be more acceptance and advocacy for diversity, inclusion, and equality across various aspects of life. The world has adopted the “if we can’t beat them lets join them” mentality and has gone overboard in an attempt to rectify the sins of our past creating a larger division amongst people than ever before. Though as whole I think the younger generation is much more accepting of those who are different from themselves, and this will hopefully one day be a non-issue.
- Environment: 1970: To say that Environmental awareness was lower would be the understatement of the century. It was virtually nonexistent, and pollution and waste were mostly unregulated. We dumped chemicals into the waterways that provided our drinking water. We buried toxic chemicals then built schoolyards on top of the dumps. We swallowed whatever we were fed and believed it.
2020: Concerns about climate change and environmental degradation have led to increased awareness and efforts to address sustainability issues. Green technologies and eco-friendly practices are gaining traction and are a multibillion-dollar industry. The same energy companies that toxified our world, are now making an effort to reverse the past by introducing new technologies which they lie about just like they did the old ones. Plausible deniability.
- Work and Employment: 1970: Traditional 9-to-5 jobs were the norm, and remote work was rare. Job security was relatively higher, and employers had the upper hand. There was not much room for competition and advancement.
2020: The gig economy and remote work have become more prevalent, offering flexibility and new employment opportunities. Automation has also impacted certain industries, leading to changes in the job market. The employee now holds most of the power, and having a career with one company your entire life is mostly a thing of the past. A healthy work/life balance is a topic of discussion in many job interviews these days. We no longer live to work, as much as work to live.
- Global Events and Politics: 1970: The world was dealing with the Cold War, space race, and various political upheavals. There were gas shortages, and terrorism became a known word the world over as hijackings and bombings became more frequent.
2020: Global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have had a profound impact on the world, shaping international relations, public health, and economies. Political motivations control most of the global markets, and the gap between the classes is once again rising. Global events are shared instantly worldwide and there is a 24 hour need to know. So close together, apart. See it, share it, post it. carry the weight of the world on your tiny little shoulders.
While these are some general differences between life in 1970 and 2020, it’s essential to recognize that every individual’s experience is unique, and there have been both positive and negative aspects of change over the decades and I have tried to see and cover both. Being the self proclaimed Nerd that I have always been, I both embrace and abhor the advances in technology that have brought us all closer together, apart.