Coded green.

Friday 29 August 2008

Screenshot anime Momoiro Sisters

Pic of the day: Work ethics in the 1950es. I like to think I would not have ended up like this, but who knows...

If it were still 1958

On my way home after the work week, I thought of how my weekend would have looked if I lived 50 years ago. 1958 was the year I was born, so it is close enough in time that I can envision it. It really brough home to me how amazing it is to live in this time, when knowledge covers the Earth like water covers the bottom of the ocean.

In 1958, I would probably still have an office job. There were far fewer of them, and more jobs in manufacturing and even agriculture. But I would still have my genetically inherited intelligence, and I would still have grown up weak after my childhood asthma. (That is providing I survived, of course. I am not sure how much the asthma medicines of the time contributed to that, but this entry would be painfully short if we assume I spent the weekend in my grave.)

So since this is not really about the job market, let us assume I had some job in the state or municipal administratrivia, even in 1958. It would still be a very different job from now, not involving computers in the least, but writing on manual typewriters (probably not yet electric yet, although this was the decade where they first became widespread). Or perhaps typewriting was still women's job back then. I would likely be doing some kind of accounting then. I used to be pretty good at that back in school.

In the 1950es, gender roles were different from today. As a man, I would naturally gravitate toward better paying jobs. It would simply not be proper for me to have a "woman's job", and the corresponding pay. So I would probably earn more compared to the average, but still a paltry sum by today's standards. Money was still tight in 1958.

The same social structure made it even more dubious than now for a man to stay single. As I grew older, it would be hard to rent anything, since I would be regarded as a dubious character. On the other hand, back then it was still normal to be Christian. In fact, it was the norm, and was considered a good thing (much like in the USA today, I believe). So this would count in my favor. Still, there were not many empty houses for rent, as this was before the population growth came to a screeching halt in Europe. Houses did not remain empty long enough to rent them out, a relative would most likely move in, or the house would be sold to a growing family that needed it. As a bachelor, I would almost certainly be condemned to an apartment - the age of huge apartment blocks was still in the vigor of its youth. On the bright side, my neighbors in the block would probably be normal people, not the lowest of the low which are now left to rot in the crumbling concrete colosses.

That said, even ordinary people in the 1950es were still a coarse lot, barely literate, superstitious and - if not overtly Christian - frequently drunk and with a bad temper. There was also a lot of resentment among the working classes toward the "white hands" who earned more money without doing hard work, so some of them would surely be taunting me at every opportunity in hope of picking a fight. I would avoid them to the best of my ability, which isn't really much of a change from now. I mean, my neighbors are not picking fights now but I still avoid them to the best of my ability, because I prefer solitude.


It's when I get home the biggest difference springs to mind, though. Back in 2008, almost everything I did (except for kitchen and bathroom) has to do with computers or the Internet. There is so much entertainment that I could have ten bodies that needed no sleep and I still would not be able to do all the fun things I could do. As it is, I have to restrain myself so I don't lose myself and dissolve into all the fun I could have. And all the things to learn! The Net is full of them, from the secret practices of ancient religions to the latest news from the US election in real time. And then there are all the people whose journals I read online, and comment on, and the forums where we discuss this and that. Needless to say, nothing of this existed 50 years ago.

I would have the latest local newspaper, and probably Aftenposten (Norway's largest conservative newspaper). There would be plenty of time during a long weekend to study them carefully and solve the crosswords. I might read a book, most likely re-read since there are only so many books of interest. And I would almost certainly have taken the expense of the latest and largest encyclopedia. (Actually I am not sure if there was more than one at the time, but there has been encyclopedia for a long time, for the benefit of the reading classes of society.)

On Sunday I would perhaps go to church. Back then was the last great bloom of Christianity on the South Coast of Norway, and there were still a number of churches where people took their religion seriously. There was a clear divide between the believers and the godless: The Christians did not drink, did not gamble, did not fight, and did their best to not have sex outside of marriage. Now, there are still a couple churches that follow these tenets, although in most churches the lifestyle is rather optional. But without electronic communication I would not have any other friends, and without easy access to the rest of the world I would probably still remain on an ethnocentric stage of cultural evolution. And I would not even know it. So I would almost certainly be more conventional than I am.

Actually, the fact that I would not be me makes it kind of hard to guess what I would do, but I have been that other me to various degrees in the past. I grew up in a time where knowledge was scarce, so I know what knowledge-hungry people did. My family consisted of such people and I grew up with them before the age of the Internet. I just don't know what single people did, is all. Probably more crosswords, I suppose.

In a way, my life as a middle-aged man in 1958 would be less stressful. There would not be so many interesting things to do, so I would have more time to do the things that really did interest me. I would probably have my own typewriter at home and still write novels I never published, and perhaps even a diary; but they would never leave the house. How much difference that makes, I will probably never know. Chances are I over-estimate it anyway. ^_^;

But now I live in this age, where the river of time has turned into churning rapids, and where the possibilities have exploded in a kind of big bang of the psyche. If I had a hundred bodies, or a thousand, there would still be interesting things for them all to do. But I don't have more than one body, so I am limited to reading about what all those other bodies do, in their blog, online journal or the occasional e-mail.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Bank-quake
Two years ago: Fast forward
Three years ago: Telenor ADSL: The farce continues
Four years ago: Assumption of progress
Five years ago: Asexual fantasy?
Six years ago: Lightwielder fantasy
Seven years ago: News on the Net
Eight years ago: The burn-out
Nine years ago: Childish games

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

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