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Was life better in the 50s 60s and 70s?

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Was life better in the 50s 60s and 70s?

Answer:
Actually, this is a question that cannot accurately be answered. Whether one era or another was "better" depends on whom you ask. For example, some people think the "good old days" were always better, because these people are not happy with their current life, so they think the past was superior to how things are now. And a case can definitely be made that in the 50s or 60s, life was simpler, people were more innocent and less suspicious, there was more of a sense of community, neighbors knew each other, and some modern problems like AIDS did not exist.

But consider some other perspectives. In the 50s, America was still segregated. If you asked a black person trying to get into a good college or seeking a nice neighborhood to raise a family whether the 50s were better, he or she might say no, since minorities were still excluded from many schools and many neighborhoods. In the 50s, gender roles were very rigid as well. Women were expected to marry and have children, and if they wanted a career, they were expected to give it up after marriage. Some women felt very torn about this. Also, even those women who did have a career did not make equal pay and they did not have equal opportunity-- as with black people, many professions were closed to them, and the professions that did welcome them (teaching, nursing, secretarial or office work) tended to be low-paying. The 50s were also the era of the "Red Scare" and of McCarthyism; in that era, conformity to a conservative worldview was considered patriotic, and those whose views were considered "too liberal" were accused of being Communists. And while there were a number of medical breakthroughs, children were still getting diseases like polio and a cure for childhood leukemia was considered impossible.

But on the other hand, the 50s were the era when the popular culture began to change, as baby-boomer children wanted their own music, rather than the Big Band music their parents liked. Rock and roll was new: Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly and doo-wop music ruled, and young people loved to listen to radio and hear their favorite disc jockeys. Television was becoming the most popular mass medium, with many new programs and stars for parents and for kids. The economy was strong and many people were able to move to bigger homes, own new cars, and buy the newest consumer goods. if you asked those people, they probably thought the 50s were a wonderful time to be alive.

The 60s were an era of great social change, when protests over Vietnam, differences of opinion over civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights first began to emerge. For some people, the popular culture of that era has never been equaled-- the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who; the beginnings of album rock on FM, the increased popularity of black music and black-formatted radio stations; "flower power," psychedelic drugs (and tie-died clothes); new freedoms and weakening of traditions about how to dress or what to believe. But here too, it depends on whom you ask-- many members of the clergy found the 60s to be an era with too much freedom, too many drugs, too much promiscuity, an increase in divorce, and a breakdown of gender roles. They were not alone. While many young people embraced the "do your own thing" attitude of the late 60s, there were many traditionalists who found the 60s too be an era of excess. (And even some people who loved the music and loved the new opportunities for women and minorities worried about the drug use and the promiscuity.)

The truth is that there is good and bad in every era, and while life was better in some ways, in others it was lacking. Today, we can communicate more quickly than we could in the 50s and 60s-- contacting a friend in another state meant an expensive long-distance phone call, and contacting someone overseas often meant sending a letter that could take days to arrive. A service like WikiAnswers would have been unthinkable back then; if you needed an answer, you went to the library (which is still a good place to go), but you could not find information unless the library was open, whereas now, the library has some of its databases online and information is available at all hours. Back in the 1960s, only the military was aware of the possibilities of what would later be called the "internet"; today, millions of people can access the internet and seek information from a wide range of sources.

To sum up, it is impossible to say that life was "better"-- but it certainly was different. There were exciting aspects of each decade, and disappointing or discouraging aspects of each decade. The same can be said of this era we live in; and sometime in the future, some person will undoubtedly be asking, "so, was life better in 2011 than it is in our time?"

by on Jan. 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM
Replies (31-40):
lizmarie1975
by Gold Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 6:54 PM
I was born in the 70s. My husband says he would love to go back in time when women waited on men...served them dinner, cleared their plates. I don't do this but his mother does it for him every time she comes. She doesn't clear my plate.
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Debmomto2girls
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM
I was born in 1970 and I think being a kid was awesome than. However, I think my kids are having an awesome time now.

I like some things about each decade.
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GLWerth
by Gina on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:02 PM
1 mom liked this

Bet you're sad that you don't get the groovy orange shag carpeting though! :)


Quoting romalove:

Better is a relative term, as is pointed out in the article.

My husband thinks the 70's were the best.  

I like parts of each decade.  I think in some ways we had less security but felt more secure.  We've put layers and layers of security and parenting on our kids but I think it's made a lot of them neurotic instead of making them feel empowered.

I'm glad not to have avocado and harvest gold appliances.


 

romalove
by Roma on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:03 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting GLWerth:

Bet you're sad that you don't get the groovy orange shag carpeting though! :)


Quoting romalove:

Better is a relative term, as is pointed out in the article.

My husband thinks the 70's were the best.  

I like parts of each decade.  I think in some ways we had less security but felt more secure.  We've put layers and layers of security and parenting on our kids but I think it's made a lot of them neurotic instead of making them feel empowered.

I'm glad not to have avocado and harvest gold appliances.



I was into white flokati rugs.  :-)

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:20 PM

"And a case can definitely be made that in the 50s or 60s, life was simpler, people were more innocent and less suspicious, there was more of a sense of community, neighbors knew each other, and some modern problems like AIDS did not exist".

Um, YEAH.  That part was nice.  Back in the 60's, there was a bad ice storm once.  School was closed and I had to walk home almost a mile (Mom did not drive!).  I kept falling down.  A nice man pulled over and offered to drive me home.  He did.  I was SEVEN years old.

Today, all parents would be worried about such a scenario.  Back then, in my small town, you didn't have to worry about that kind of thing.  I did a lot of stupid and dangerous things in the 60's and 70's, I see, now that I am a Mom.  But it all turned out ok. 

Some things were much better.  People actually communicated with each other, as we only had wall telephones and mail.  You saw your friends every day outside.  No one sat in front of screens after school.

We did eat a lot of bad and processed food, I now know.  That became popular in the 50's, so a lot of us got these "convenience" foods full of crap chemicals. 

 

SWasson
by Bronze Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I'm sure for some people it was, and for others it wasn't. I'm leaning toward the theory that things generally improve as time passes.

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM
1 mom liked this

 

I lived through them, and yes, you are right.  There was ugly behind the curtain in some places, and even in my own home in a few ways.  But things ARE too loose morally today, and that hasn't been a good thing either. 

Quoting mikesmom65270:

Every time period has both good and bad.  I grew up in the 50's and 60's, had my kids in the 70's.  Some things were better in the 50's and 60's in some ways, but there were ugly things hidden behind the facade, more prejudice, segregation, heavy restrictions on women, very rigid ways of dressing and behavior, polio and other diseases, the threat of nuclear war, etc.  Some things are better now, less restrictive but in many ways things are too loose morally and too lenient in many other things.  Now is a good time, even with all the bad things in the world.  If you did not live through those times, you probably have an overly optimistic slant on what it was really like. 

 

 


 

Arroree
by Ruby Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:36 PM

The only thing i miss about "the good ol' days" are the awesome hippie vans. I always wanted a hippie van :)

lga1965
by on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:43 PM

 The only difference between the 50's and today is that in the 50's, drugs had not yet come over in the pods of military jets and transport planes from SE Asia . Drugs were not that big then. (Unless you were a scum bag and shot up with heroine,etc.)After they started smuggling them in planes, drug use blossomed, exploded. And the Drug Culture enticed people until the clouds of pot smoke were everywhere.  But before the 60's, the main vices were booze and cigarettes.

Racism and all kinds of discrimination was too common in the 60's, If anyone saw "The Help" that was the way it was.Worse in the south but common all over the USA.Moms did work though. They weren't all like Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver. My Aunt worked at an aircraft factory . My Mom worked part time. My Dad was not a male chauvinist pig.LOL. Men in my family didn't make their wives stay home.

And in the 60's, everything was ok, no holds barred--LSD, all kinds of drugs, people living in communes,etc. and I wouldn't want to go back to those days. (I stayed away from that "summer of love" stuff because I was an AirForce wife having babies etc. )

We suffered through Vietnam and the assasinations of JFK and RFK and then we had to deal with Nixon being elected in 1968 promising he would get us out of Vietnam within a year, ( They didn't leave until 1974...oops).

The 70's and 80's and 90's and so forth have been pretty much the same, neither good or bad.More wars . More discrimination. Same old same old/.Judging the decades depends on who you are and what you expected. Or if you were alive then! Most Moms here were born a short time ago.

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:50 PM

It completely depends on your point of view.  I don't think the rigidity of the 50s and early 60s was good at all, there were very defined roles and anyone who stepped out of them was punished by society.  There was a lot more racism, in the 50s and 60s there was still Jim Crow in full force, remember.  Families with problems hid them and didn't address them, afraid of the reactions or if people found out.  Problems such as alcoholism, abuse and drug addiction were hidden, instead of addressed and solved.

I was a young kid in the 70s, and sure there was a certain freedom that seems to be missing now...running the neighborhood, etc.  But I am not dumb enough to believe that things were so free and easy for everyone.

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