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