Everything was better... They don't make 'em like they used to. I know I'm not the only one tired of hearing these hollow maxims. People continue to propagate the idea, based on scant evidence, that everything used to be better. Consumer electronics, household appliances, books, movies, people, and society in general. Typical examples of proof of this include the television bought years ago that outlasted two newer ones, or classic films from back in the good old days compared to the tripe that's out in abundance right now.
Bollocks. This is simply not true - at least, not based on the so called 'evidence'. I'm not going to comment on people and society except to say that I think they sucked just as much in the old days, it's just that back then the world wasn't as connected and people weren't as aware of how much everything sucked. I will, however, take a closer look at manufactured products and entertainment.
Do people actually keep track of all the old stuff they bought years ago that broke down? It's easy to point at the one item that survived for years, but what about all of those that didn't last? Did everything from the good old days survive? When someone buys 10 items today and 8 break down within a few years, it's immediately proof that these things are inferior. And 10 years from now, the 2 out of those 10 that did survive will be cited as proof that things made back in the 00s were better than all the crap being made in the 10s. Bah!
Is there any empirical evidence to show that electronic devices are of poorer quality today? And even supposing that they are, do we consider the comparative functionality and relative cost of what's available today? Seriously, most things made today are considerably better designed and useful, and often cost less in real terms. I can appreciate that in some cases additional complexity leads to problems (like, say, having moving parts like CD/DVD drives in video game consoles that result in them breaking down quicker than the old cartridge based ones), but that's a trade off between reliability and functionality that I find to be reasonable.
Then let us consider films. Apparently there were so many better films years ago than there are today. Were there? Or is it simply that the good films are remembered and the crap forgotten? When someone describes how crappy modern films are, I ask them to name an old classic. Then I ask them to name 10 other films from the same year as the film they named. They will almost certainly fail to do this, but they'll probably be able to name 10 films from this year (or last year) because they are CURRENT and still fresh in our minds! Bah! There's plenty of good stuff out there now, it's just that they'll only be widely recognized as classics decades from now. I will acknowledge, however, that the volume of output (or the ubiquity of output) seems higher these days, and assuming a constant ratio of good stuff to bad stuff, the sheer volume of crap can result in the impression that today's entertainment sucks more than yesterday's.
I realize that my arguments are just vague thoughts and that I lack any real evidence to support them other than hand wavy logic, but I contend that there's more thought behind what I've said than there is in the casually uttered 'modern stuff sucks' statement.
This must be my worst blog post ever, but I will not apologize. Everyone's entitled to the occasional rant...