Yesterday I flew from my apartment in Los Angeles to my family’s home near Philadelphia and boy are my arms tired! Obviously I’m kidding (and badly!), but it was a less pleasant flying experience than usual, and that should be saying something to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock since a certain day in September of 2001.

 

As I was waiting in the woefully understaffed and inexcusably long line to get through airport security, I saw a mother helping her kids strip down to the TSA-regulated maximum for walking through the metal detector, and it got me thinking about how times have changed. In the 90s we never could have imagined some of the ridiculous things the have become commonplace and the very fact that this causes me pause makes me feel old.

 

I don't know how to tell you this, Doctor Banner, but...you're going green.

The world around us is constantly changing. Our technology, our politics, even our culture with things like the initiative to “Go Green”. Think about it, what would someone have thought fifteen years ago if you told them you had gone green? Best case scenario they would probably ignore you, and at worst they might rush you to the E.R.

 

For some reason I find these types of cultural changes much more surprising and peculiar than technological ones, even though the tech sector will probably always be the fastest mind-boggling industry known to man. When I first heard about iPhones and having phones capable of accessing the internet, I just flat out didn’t believe they existed. I guess the primitive part of my brain took over and started looking for the witch responsible so I could burn her at the stake.

 

Airports in particular are a major culprit of this weird sensation I have that’s difficult to describe. If I had to put a name to it, I’d call it something along the lines of “Future Generation Syndrome”. The sensation tends to come from changes during my lifetime that I’m aware will seem remarkable to the children people of my generation raise.

 

“In my day, Billy,” I will say to my granddaughter named Susan, “you used to be able to get on an airplane without talking off any of your clothes”.

“Yeah right, grandpa!” She will say, genuinely skeptical, and with good reason!

Of course! Now the quality of their service makes sense!

 

It’s weird the stuff we can get used to as a culture without even batting an eye. You used to be able to walk right up to an airplane terminal and pick up your friends, family members or perpetrators of extortion right as they got off the plane. Now you need four plastic bins and a dressing room just to get through security so you can get on a plane that you spend hundreds of dollars to board, which doesn’t necessarily cover any food or entertainment. I’m looking at you, U.S. Airways.

 

Oddly enough, one good source for comparing how times have changed are sitcoms. More than many genres, I think sitcoms are based in an analog for the immediate present, as they seek to be as relatable as possible to the audience. Humor you don’t relate to usually doesn’t resonate as well as humor from a situation you understand. Case in point: everybody poops and everybody loves a good poop joke. Some people even like not-so-good poop jokes.

 

This one's just for you dog lovers.

It used to be a major plot point in sitcoms for a kid (especially a high school-aged girl) to lobby for their own phone line. It seems like nowadays kids in middle school have iPhones loaded with apps (probably including one which makes not-so-good poop jokes). I didn’t get a cell phone until pretty late in high school, and when I did it was a fairly simple one, which makes sense to me. The major argument for giving a child that young a phone is for emergency communication, so it doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles of a tiny computer. I’m not even sure when we made the transition from “no way are you getting a phone line” to “phones for everybody, even Fido!” Although in fairness, without a cell phone I’m not sure how a dog would order all the sweaters it needs to survive the winter.

 

There was a pretty good example of this from the trailers for He’s Just Not That Into You, where one character was stressing over communicating with the guy she was dating and recounts a whole messy affair of texting, voice mail, Facebook etc. Back in the days of shows like Seinfeld it was as simple as when should you call him/her or whether or not he/she had called you, and that alone was enough to drive people crazy. Look what we’re doing to ourselves!

 

I remember in elementary school when my mom would help me look through the family’s set of encyclopedias to find information on subjects for school. Now children will be growing up knowing the internet as their primary source of information. Since I was always pretty worthless at book research, and I spent a season doing research for the show Deadliest Warrior I guess I can’t complain too much about that change. Still, consider the concerning degree to which people rely on Wikipedia for information already. Do you think that is going to get better or worse over time?

 

At the rate things are going, I’m not going to recognize my own past by the time I have children, so I think I’m going to start making up the history of my lifetime. We’ll see how badly that screws them up. Back before hover cars the only way to get around was to surf the information super highway, a term which is no longer used out of respect for those who lost their lives to the digital tsunami that heralded the arrival of the techno-kraken. Yeah, I think that’s a good start.

I didn't say anything about a house.

 

As much as I hate change, I have to say I’m looking forward to a genre of music that could be described as techno-kraken.

 

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m a pretty old-fashioned guy and that all I want out of life before I die is a porch to set my rocking chair on and a lawn to yell at people to stay off of.

 

(Don’t worry, I’ll get back to talking about regularly scheduled bad TV on Wednesday)

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