Tea and hot buttered crumpets. Coal fires. Spitfires. Light entertainment. Politicians what you could trust. Proper snow. Hot summers. Stockings. Steam trains. Bunting. Boy scouts. Bottled milk. Make Do & Mend. White people. Tuberculosis. There’s so much to love about the good old days. You used to be able to have a good old chat back then, too. On buses and trains and out on the street. About the, er, weather and the, er, sky. But nowadays everyone’s more interested in looking at their phones instead, aren’t they? Idiots. I bloody hate nowadays…
The strangest thing about people who laud the good old days is that they aren’t usually that old themselves. They talk as though they grew-up midway through the pomp of the Edwardian age, whereas they were often born just either side of the introduction of Ceefax. They have Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions, yet still bask in the glory of the fact that they were around long before technology ‘took over’. Palpably unaware of the irony of doing so, they’ll share memes which boast vacuous, mid-Atlantic phrases like this:
‘I was part of the last generation to walk to school, play outside until the sun went down, write my family, talk to my neighbors, carry an old man’s groceries, and contract Rubella (until the sun went down).
And it never did me any harm.
Click share if you agree!!!’
The general insinuation of these memes is that people born pre-1990 are good, strong, sturdy, reliable members of society (as a result of our back-breaking childhoods in those workhouses of the late 1970s) and that people born post-1990 are mollycoddled, entitled wimps who get driven to school and don’t know a thing about the real world or how the sun used to go down.
The beauty is, of course, that if the youth of today are indeed mollycoddled, entitled wimps who are unappreciative of celestial patterns, a portion of the blame must belong to those people sharing the memes i.e. their parents and elders. They’re ones who are coddling their mollies, or mollying their coddles, or whatever the fuck that phrase means. Take walking to school, for example. At the last YouGov count (2013), almost of half of the people who drove their children to school lived less than a mile away. It’s not a stretch to suggest that at least some of those people who spend their evenings bragging about how they walked to school may actually drive their children to that same destination the following morning. According to the YouGov report, they do this for two perfectly understandable reasons: first, because they’re worried that if their children walked to school, they might get accosted by a weirdo (a weirdo who was born, most likely, before 1990); second, because of the reckless driving and parking around the school itself by other parents.
All this is nothing new. History is littered with people proclaiming that the latest generation are all ignorant softies. If they’d had memes in the Middle Ages, they’d play on exactly the same themes:
‘I was part of the last genyration to sweepe the crop with mine scythe, joust until the sun did retreat, man the oxen, quoth allegiance to mine Lord, and holdeth an aged serf’s plagued coarpse whilst breeving bubonic aire into mine lungges.
And ne’er once did it serve me payne.
Clicke shayre if thoust agree!!!’
Obviously, it’s all nonsense. Evolution is a slow mover. Raise anyone in the noughties – Caligula, Cleopatra, Hitler, Anne of Cleves – and they’d be no different to the current breed: they, too, would watch Kinder Eggs being opened on YouTube, know what a Zayn is and send each other photos of sloths. The same goes for people born post-war; it’s highly doubtful they’d exit a 21st-century womb clutching the Daily Express and demanding to walk to school. They’d embrace the only world they knew.