In the car, we always listen to the 80’s radio channel. Hubby loves 80’s songs and, while some of his other music choices make me want to pull my ears off (yes, I mean you, angry metal noise), I can handle the 80’s channel. It’s okay. Their playlist is limited to the same 50 songs which they play on repeat all year round, but fine.
One day a while ago, we were driving somewhere and 80’s songs were playing. And I thought to myself, wasn’t that an amazing time to be alive actually? Everyone was just so hedonistic and carefree.
Travelling without a thought for the environmental impact, keeping dolphins in tiny tanks so kids could gawk at them, smoking cigarettes like there was no tomorrow. It was like mankind was invincible. We could do what we wanted. There was no Wikipedia, no internet to guide our thoughts. We didn’t know anything was wrong in the world, or going to go bad if not stopped.
We just weren’t thinking at all, mostly. Or so I assume – I was just a kid. I was busy playing.
But wait… can we go back to keeping dolphins in tanks in the various seaworlds of the world? Do you think that’s fishy?
I can’t stop myself from wondering, what about all the other animals kept in captivity? Crocodiles doing similar shows in zoos, jumping to showcase their exquisite length and strength. Farm animals in petting zoos, existing for the sole purpose of letting kids pet them (or maybe they have other life goals I don’t know of?). Fish in aquariums, both commercial and at home – we saved the dolphins but are fish not considered animals in that sense either (I’m reminded of the vegetarians who eat fish) – how are they happier in a tank than a dolphin? And what about pet hamsters in cages and all of the other animals we keep as pets. Why do people who say they love animals insist on keeping them captive?
I’m not judging: I’ve been as much a part of all of the above activities as anyone else. And next summer, I’ll most certainly take my animal-loving kids to a petting zoo again. But it won’t be a carefree trip, my conscience will be nagging me. “Confused and conflicted”, that could be my status update if I were on social media. Or even my profile description – after all, it seems to have become a permanent state of mind.
The 80’s though, now that seemed like a fun decade. At least for kids. Cartoons on Sunday mornings, colourful ice cream, cool pop music videos, action figures. Movies with actual plots and actors who acted (i.e. not reality shows). No one was saying too much screen time was bad for you. Barbie dolls that were too skinny but that wasn’t an issue back then: political correctness hadn’t yet been born. We weren’t overthinking things, we were just doing.
Kids swam unsupervised, rode bikes without helmets, traveled by car sometimes with no seat belts.
It wasn’t all rosy, but the photos of that time captured only the good moments. The bad memories are long gone.
We traveled to see new places, learn about different ways of life. We needed to learn different languages because there were no translation apps.
Nowadays we travel to tick it off a list we learned about on social media, feeling peer pressure.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a safety freak. I wouldn’t want to go back to smoking in airplanes and not wearing helmets when they are needed.
But even I must admit that the carefree 80’s way does seem tempting right now. If only I could unsee and unknow. I’d like to un-Wikipedia myself, please.
In the 80’s, I don’t think we gave the future much thought. The world was ours to enjoy, it was our oyster. That seems like such a long time ago, I think with anxiety.
Covid, online and real life bullying of youngsters and increasingly violent crime committed by teens, climate change and all of its side effects, from an increase in rat populations and ticks to natural disasters and cross-continental mass migration in search of livable land, causing cultural conflict. I wish I had a time machine. Or a large eraser. What would I do differently?
Maybe the little things we do in 2021 can make a difference. Here’s to happy oblivion, cin cin!
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree
I travel the world and the Seven Seas
Everybody’s looking for something