A wise soul once said the only constant in life is change. In our modern world, that seems more true than ever. New discoveries, devices and diversions arrive almost daily. The digital revolution has put tools at our fingertips that we could only dream of as recently as a decade ago.
The Internet of course is one such marvel. A world of information beckons. Want to learn how a car engine works? A quick search gives you mechanical details, schematics, pictures. How about translating a foreign phrase into your native language? No problem. A simple app will do that from your smartphone.
Indeed, it appears that the universe is far different than it was in our parents’ day, let alone our grandparents’. And in many ways both large and small, that’s true.
But have people really changed? Not so much.
If you don’t believe me, use the wonders of the World Wide Web to go back in time. Find a newspaper archive from a few years or decades ago. (Yes, one of the wonderful ironies of the digital age is how easy it makes finding relics of the analog era.)
Take the time to browse some headlines. Skim some ads. Do that for a little while and you’ll soon discover that in terms of human behavior, there’s really not much new under the solar panels.
Scan the headlines for your hometown. In many cases, you’ll find the same issues forty or fifty years ago are current issues as well. What to do about traffic congestion. How to pay for new roads, sewers, schools. Budget cuts. Higher taxes. Lower taxes. The challenges of keeping the local economy strong. They’re all there. The names of the players may have changed, but the game remains the same.
Even on a national scale, some stories have a familiar ring. Economic issues, stock market ups and downs, even the question of health insurance reform are nothing new.
Now take a look at the advertising. You thought “Christmas in July” promotions were a recent development? Nope. They date back to at least the 1930s. And while automobile dealers have different makes and models, many of the ads still look pretty much the same today.
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean nothing has changed, however. There are some stark reminders that we’re a far more inclusive and welcoming society today in terms of civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights. Environmental issues that weren’t addressed in the 1940s — such as the widespread use of lead paint — have been cleaned up. As a whole, we’re far more aware of environmental matters today.
Having said that, you’re likely to find far more similarities than differences overall. Human nature being what it is, even many of the crime stories will appear to be, to paraphrase a popular TV show of the past decade “ripped from today’s headlines.”
Then again, anger, sorrow, jealousy, hope, fear, inspiration and love have been with us since the beginning of time. Just ask that fellow who wrote Romeo and Juliet how much has changed….