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Thread: What were the 70s and 80s like for you?

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    What were the 70s and 80s like for you?

    I was born in 86', and as such the 90s were the decade of my youth. The 90s and 00s are where I root most of my identity. Interestingly, the internet didn't become a thing in my life until about 95/96, so for a brief window I used the phone a lot, knew all of my friends phone numbers, and showing up at people's houses unannounced and knocking on the door was actually a thing.

    That being said I've always been drawn to the 80s despite not knowing much about it, or what life was like during that decade. I enjoy 80s music, and I even like the aesthetic that was going on around that time.

    So I'm curious how people feel about the 80s (and 70s). In 'Western' cultures was there a significant difference between that period and the 50s / 60s? Do you feel like the internet caused a major schism that differentiated everything pre-90s from everything post-90s?

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    To me, disco seemed a watershed.
    The entire Magic Valley was split between, Country, Western, and Gospel venues, until one place tried to be disco two nights of the week.
    I realize now that humans have probably always liked to split between US and THEM, but that was about the first time i'd seen such stark lines.
    About the same time, sci fi was throwing out Star Wars, scifi fans were having conventions in my state, a few other things that made it seem like i'd gone from a weird misfit gleaning occasional nuggets out of a wateland to an actual minority with people sharing my interests somewhere out there.
    None nearby, but it was nice to know they were out there.

    70's was also Watergate. A major shift in how much of America was willing to trust the government, and who they were. Viet Nam on TV, Nixon on tape, don"t trust anyone over 30, don't trust anyone under 30....
    Crazy time.

    1980, i went to boot camp. My milage for that decade may likely be nonstandard..

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    I was just a dumb kid in the 70s. I graduated from high school in 1986.

    My life involved attending private Christian school, not realizing how inadequate my education was until a decade later, and going to church a lot.

    There was no World Wide Web, no DVRs, no streaming video. Bricks were the size of cell phones but you couldn't afford one anyway. Only hard-core nerds had computers, that they were constantly opening up to mess around with the innards or typing pages of code out of a magazine in order to play pong. If you want to play a game, you bought an Atari 2600 and plug it into your TV until your parents kick you off so that they can watch something else.

    It would be easy to say the culture was more homogenous, but then how would you know? No doubt there were as many sub-cultures as there are today, but without the technology to easily find each other.

    It was easier to ignore extremists and loonies.

    The 80s were the Reagan years, when we collectively agreed that America was better than all the rest and if we want more oil we'll go get it, thank you very much. "Greed is good" as Gordon Gecko told us, and your riches were a validation of the means you employed to obtain those riches. Later, Rush Limbaugh would push back on that by arguing that charitable donations increased during the 80s--thus proving that wealth-generation is its own reward. But it was also the beginning of ramped-up privatization, when well-connected private firms could get exclusive access to public resources for personal gain. Which is better, to pay taxes to build a public road, or to be first in line to buy a toll booth?

    Electronica and digital gimcrackery entered music in a big way.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    My first thought is most of you missed the beginning of the nuclear age, the jet age, the television age, the lazar, and even the solid state circuit age. You got nothing to remember.

    By the seventies pop music had been recaptured by the avenues, Tin Pan, Madison, etc. Phones were about to be revolutionized by becoming the main instrument of the internet. The browning of humanity was recognized as the trend in social systems throughout the world. And migration from drying zones of Asia and Africa became a political necessity and the harbinger of future revival of tribalism.

    WYSIWYG and the mouse happened and the beginning of the bio-parts revolution was at hand. Systems engineering had become the thing and Total Quality Function Deployment was born. By the seventies it became clear that operating systems could not be updated indefinably. Corporate Silos also began to blowup. In computing tagging languages were introduced in the eighties in computer applications beyond printing and graphical reactive programming became popular in the nineties.

    Nothing important happened in politics in the seventies and eighties beyond ossification of petro business; and self centered became a social thing starting in the eighties.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    I think it matters not just whether one was alive for a decade, but how old one was and where one lived. I was growing up in the dairy-and-almond country of Central California all through the late 1980's, and have a clear memory of those times but from a child's perspective. Less pop culture, more... wood-paneled and carpetish furniture and decor, funny giant hairstyles on the adults, everything analog. Fraggle Rock was my favorite kids TV show, and I was obsessed with our taped VHS copy of the two direct-to-video Ewok Star Wars movies that no one seems to remember anymore. Despite the recent resurgence of the franchise, it's now very difficult to find a copy thereof, and even Disney appears to have disowned them. I adored the Ewoks though, and had a little stuffed Wicket throughout my childhood. I never saw the actual theater movie Return of the Jedi until years later.

    I was well positioned to observe the slow changes wrought by the internet, as my parents were well-educated and keen to adopt new technologies but most people in my small town were not. I was already in college by the time high speed internet arrived in our little burg of Waterford. There was always high technology that existed in theory, even not so far away by literal miles, but functionally did not yet exist in most of rural America. In elementary school, later on toward the very tail end of the 80's, I was "on call" at the library, as one of the few kids who could sometimes fix the computer when it wasn't working. Yes, you heard right. The computer, and they needed a third grader to trouble shoot the thing It did have Oregon Trail on it, though. And later, the Encarta Encylopedia. My parents had a full set of actual encyclopedias at home though, inherited from my dad's parents and living on a dedicated bookshelf in the office. I could often be found on the office floor puring through the collection with vigor and interest. The original Simcity was released in 1989, and my mathemetician grandmother came by a bootleg copy that very year. It was so different from games that had come before, and seemed like a sign of things to come. It was. I started dreaming up the future existence of something like Google Maps while playing that game, and only had to wait sixteen years for it to appear for real.

    The 90's were a more optimistic time, and I enjoyed them more. I don't always connect with the version of the 1980's one sees in nostalgic TV shows and the like, which seems much more fun and funky than anything I recall experiencing directly. CDs were another thing that are starting to really date my micro-generation; we adopted them late in my childhood, and they are all but extinct now. Social media was after my time, and I am curious how it will affect the generation that is growing up now. When I was young, social media consisted of the nightly news, and telephone calls to family members and friends. Yes, before there were cell phones, people actually called up their casual acquaintances on the kitchen telephone, which was attached to the wall by a curly cord.

    My students often seem to assume I was there for the 70s, too. Must be the moustache? I'm getting older, but not that older.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

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    Veteran Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    The first half of the seventies were an extension of the sixties, at least for me. Political turmoil (Vietnam War still going on, Watergate and Nixon, Patty Hurst, etc.). Drugs, sex and Rock n’ Roll was still the mantra. I was living in Canada at the time, and have some strong memories and stories to tell about the Canadian reaction to US politics. Pierre Trudeau seemed like the hippest head of state imaginable, except I was living in BC, where the archaic Social Credit Party still had control.

    Things settled down politically in the US with Jimmy Carter as POTUS. There was tremendous inflation. Interest rates were 13-15% for a mortgage, IIRC. Then the eighties. Reagan became POTUS. In many ways he was as corrupt as Trump. For instance it was pretty clear he had made a pre-election secret deal with Iran to kill the negotiations with Carter about the hostages. The Democrats couldn’t get any traction on that issue though, and barely got convictions on the Iran-Contra deal. Americans in general loved Reagan for some reason. Most won’t believe you still today if you point out that in terms of felony convictions alone, Reagan’s administration was the most corrupt in the late twentieth century.

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    Veteran Member crazyfingers's Avatar
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    I graduated high school in 1980, got my Masters in 1986 and started what would become my lifelong occupation as an industry analyst / consultant in 1988. So the 70's and 80's saw me go from a grade school squirt to life as an adult. As far as I'm concerned, any music from the 80's is new music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I think it matters not just whether one was alive for a decade, but how old one was and where one lived. I was growing up in the dairy-and-almond country of Central California all through the late 1980's, and have a clear memory of those times but from a child's perspective. Less pop culture, more... wood-paneled and carpetish furniture and decor, funny giant hairstyles on the adults, everything analog. Fraggle Rock was my favorite kids TV show, and I was obsessed with our taped VHS copy of the two direct-to-video Ewok Star Wars movies that no one seems to remember anymore. Despite the recent resurgence of the franchise, it's now very difficult to find a copy thereof, and even Disney appears to have disowned them. I adored the Ewoks though, and had a little stuffed Wicket throughout my childhood. I never saw the actual theater movie Return of the Jedi until years later.

    I was well positioned to observe the slow changes wrought by the internet, as my parents were well-educated and keen to adopt new technologies but most people in my small town were not. I was already in college by the time high speed internet arrived in our little burg of Waterford. There was always high technology that existed in theory, even not so far away by literal miles, but functionally did not yet exist in most of rural America. In elementary school, later on toward the very tail end of the 80's, I was "on call" at the library, as one of the few kids who could sometimes fix the computer when it wasn't working. Yes, you heard right. The computer, and they needed a third grader to trouble shoot the thing It did have Oregon Trail on it, though. And later, the Encarta Encylopedia. My parents had a full set of actual encyclopedias at home though, inherited from my dad's parents and living on a dedicated bookshelf in the office. I could often be found on the office floor puring through the collection with vigor and interest. The original Simcity was released in 1989, and my mathemetician grandmother came by a bootleg copy that very year. It was so different from games that had come before, and seemed like a sign of things to come. It was. I started dreaming up the future existence of something like Google Maps while playing that game, and only had to wait sixteen years for it to appear for real.

    The 90's were a more optimistic time, and I enjoyed them more. I don't always connect with the version of the 1980's one sees in nostalgic TV shows and the like, which seems much more fun and funky than anything I recall experiencing directly. CDs were another thing that are starting to really date my micro-generation; we adopted them late in my childhood, and they are all but extinct now. Social media was after my time, and I am curious how it will affect the generation that is growing up now. When I was young, social media consisted of the nightly news, and telephone calls to family members and friends. Yes, before there were cell phones, people actually called up their casual acquaintances on the kitchen telephone, which was attached to the wall by a curly cord.

    My students often seem to assume I was there for the 70s, too. Must be the moustache? I'm getting older, but not that older.
    This reads largely like my life, except I believe you're a few years ahead of me. I have no memories of the eighties at all, I would have been about three and a half when the nineties hit. My first vivid memories of the nineties are trips my family took to the U.S. - Myrtle Beach a few times, Florida, Tennessee. I never thought of that decade as an optimistic time myself, but in retrospect it seems true compared to how thing have gone in the 00s.

    And yea, the transition to the internet will likely be one of the more interesting aspects of my life. Like you, in high school I'd talk with friends on the phone for hours, which is unheard of today. We did have an unconnected PC in the early 90s, then one fateful day my dad brought home a machine with Windows 95 on it. I can still remember how fascinating those early days of the internet were for me - you can just talk to anyone... anywhere? It seemed incredible.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    The first half of the 70s really was an extension of the 60s. Great music and University life were a good mix. The second half of the 70s is a cultural blank because I was in the service and it seemed like I was always working. There wasn't any good music in the 80s that I remember but that didn't matter. I had just gotten married and started a family which kept me very occupied, not to mention that again I seemed to be working every waking hour, and lived in five different states. Life was just too busy to enjoy or even notice.

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    Veteran Member crazyfingers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    The first half of the 70s really was an extension of the 60s. Great music and University life were a good mix. The second half of the 70s is a cultural blank because I was in the service and it seemed like I was always working. There wasn't any good music in the 80s that I remember but that didn't matter. I had just gotten married and started a family which kept me very occupied, not to mention that again I seemed to be working every waking hour, and lived in five different states. Life was just too busy to enjoy or even notice.
    The Grateful Dead were touring all thought the 1980's except for part of 1986.

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