Total Recall 1950s or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet

Wishing I was about a decade older and actually learned in American history…

Caveat: I know my following rant will likely have no substance, no substantiation, just “feelings” and “off the cuff,” will be generalized and simplistic, and perhaps emotionally charged.  If so, I blame contemporary American politics and propaganda, for propagating and feeding off such.

In short, I feel like I might be entering the Twilight Zone and it’s the late 1950s, or early 1960s again.  (without having lived that era – much to my chagrin, I guess – and thus no basis in reality)  I have heard that history repeats itself.  and the other idiom, that those unaware of their past are doomed to repeat it.  and the third idiom (enough with the idioms already)… I forgot, oops.  (I love the SNL spoof they did with the awesome Bill Hader, but can’t find a good clip of it.)  Something along the lines of (at least Americans) people having a very short attention span and/or memory, or at least politicians treat us this way.  ok, bullet points, why do I suddenly feel like this might be the pseudo-1950s all over again?

1) Cold War.  Fresh off a major war, two major wars, that shook the globe, and forced America out of thinking the sun revolved around itself – i.e. forcing America (and too late at that) out of isolationsim and into the concept of globalization…or something.   Anyways, “we” are still isolationist, at least promulgating that myth, while corporations use Bangladesh to produce T-shirts, and even “American” cars are manufactured piecemeal all over the place, and our foreign policy is …complicated…why are we giving aid to anywhere anyways and what is the real political motivation?  so many side rants, and (on my end) so much ignorance… ok, focus.  Cold War.  It’s us versus the USSR, the fear of apocalypse, nuclear bombs, and so on.  Well, thanks to the Olympics, or late night political comedians, or the internet, the realities of Putin’s dictatorship have been fleshed out a bit more.  and then there’s this Crimea business.  on top of the whole asylum to Snowden issue.  It certainly feels like we’re in some sort of prelude to another cold war with Russia.  and I have no doubt that all those nuclear bombs are still very much present.  Did America even attempt, or even pretend to attempt, to disarm?

2) fears of Orwellian-like takeover/fascism (i.e. fears of a WWIII and of fascism, coming on the heels of WWII).  The total lack of privacy and spying everywhere did come to pass, as doomsday writers, noticably George Orwell’s 1984, but also Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and much by Ray Bradbury as well, much as they predicted.  Only, I’d offer, even more insidiously.  Instead of the government coming down, hamfisted and fascist, invading everyone’s lives (and they did, thanks NSA and CIA), rather, oddly enough, people did it themselves.  Via Facebook, namely, people voluntarily offered up their privacy and personal lives, doing the grunt work themselves, sparing the government the trouble.  So, one, it was people doing this themselves (bottom up instead of top down?).  And two, the Big Brother era turned out to be more corporation-minded, than government-minded.  i.e. we weren’t being watched as pawns for some CIA chessgame, rather, we’re being mined to better sell us products, so we’ll go buy shit.  Facebook is free advertising.  Hell, opening an M&Ms candy wrapper, I see a Facebook link.  My bank has a Facebook page.  The internet is spam and advertisement.  You could further argue that corporations control American politics as well, given lobbyists, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Pharmaceuticals, Citizens United, damn near everything…

3)McCarthyism.  along the lines of the last rant, see above.  i.e. total lack of privacy, fear of everyone else, witchhunting, and so forth.  We have no privacy now – unless we move to the mountains, live in a log cabin, chop wood, no electricity, no running water.  Even then…cellphone service exists, and people GoogleMap themselves with GPS trackers, on the Appalachian Trail.  Where can one go now to disappear from the internet and cell phones?  I bet Alaskans are fervent bloggers.  god.  anyways… The NSA is spying on us.  Hell, and I’m not a conspiracy nut.  I always dismissed those who’d claim this sort of thing (even though I loved the sci-fi, but maybe because it was science fiction, though usually just using the guise of science fiction to make salient points about society, culture, and politics that would not have been allowed otherwise).  No, unfortunately, this is reality, this is fact: the NSA is spying on us.  Who knows why, filling entire warehouses with trivia and triflings.  They need some filters.

Apart from that, again, us doing it to ourselves.  Think about it.  Almost everyone has a camera, a videocamera, and access to the internet, in their pocket, all the time, everywhere.  I pity kids these days.  Back when I was a kid, sure there was bullying.  People mocked an embarrassing moment, but they moved on, onto the next kid, it was (somewhat) temporary, in space and time.  Now, you could pee your pants, trip over your feet, pick your nose, be wasted, insert embarrassing thing here, and someone, anyone, could take a picture of it, “videotape” it, post it to the web, where it will exist for all eternity.  You can’t remove it, you can’t control it.  Future bosses could find it.  You can’t live it down.  We exist in a world where everyone’s paparazzi.  Everyone is spying on everyone.  Total full-on McCarthyism.  and why?  People are bored and like their phones?  Who knows.  There is no concept of privacy any more.

4) Racism and sexism, and other bigotry-isms.  Unfortunately, this still exists.  And sadly, likely always will.  Not that long ago, Rush Limbaugh declared a woman a slut for using birth control.  Yes, it’s Limbaugh, with his feminazi rants.  Thing is, other major GOPers, and candidates at the time, didn’t really call him out on it.  We live in a world where we are questioning birth control.  Where Roe v. Wade is hotly debated and could be overturned.  Again, am I living in the 1950s?  Viagra’s fine, condoms are fine, but literally god forbid a woman takes the pill.  or has sex.  I at least want people to be consistent.  If you want to make the argument that sex should only exist for procreation and that you have to get married and have kids to be moral, then you should have equal hatred not just for “the gays,” but also for single people, childless couples, people who choose not to have kids, people who have cheap Vegas weddings, people who have sex recreationally, people who cohabitate without marrying, and so on.  i.e. Mormons. At least Mormons are somewhat consistent.

And racism.  This could be such a long rant I won’t even start.  As a colleague of mine put it, years ago, the brutality seems less, but has in no way diminished, because the overt racism has transmogrified into subtle institutionalized ingrained racism, which is much harder to see and much harder to fight.

5) and this, I’ll leave you with this, is Obama like Kennedy?  Read the following and substitute Obama for Kennedy, it seems to fit.  (replace Kennedy for Obama, television for internet, and Vietnam for Middle East)

Kennedy article

again, caveat, these are all very vague generalizations with no substance.  If I paused to think, I’d say it’s really not like that, and point out all the details.  But, nonetheless, I know history does go in cycles.  It swings to the right, then swings to the left, then swings to the right, and so on.  It may progress, in pieces, while sliding back in other ways.  Case in point, I feel “we”  have much better civil rights now, than prior.  But, at the same time, we have some odd kind of stagflation and perhaps the largest income inequality since 1929.  Will this progress (regress) to a nation of the wealthy and the peasants, like most countries, and like most of history? but anyways…

oh, and the Zeitgeist of the times, via media.  What are the current and upcoming movies right now? Judeo-Christian biblical epics and WWII films (and superheroes, born in the patriotic era of the ’40s and ’50s).  so…yeah.

either that, or we’re incredibly post-modern.  Whatever that means.

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