My Grandmother recently dropped off an old photo album at my house. It features pictures of my mom and her siblings during the peak of the 80’s, their college years. My aunt had curly bangs, electric-pink blush, and shoulder pads. My mom wore white tennis shoes and thick, light wash-jeans. She had an outfit specifically for aerobics: lavender lycra leggings and a leotard. I learned that the leotard had to be worn outside of the leggings on account of their sheer nature.
I look back now and see all of these trends and am horrified. How did anyone think that looked good? But 2016 will have all its own hallmarks. When I think of the 80’s, I think of my mom with blue eyeliner and Cyndi Lauper. Right now, contouring and highlighting, cultural appropriation, and anything pertaining to the Kardashians is all the rage. These things will probably horrify and confuse my kids. By the time my grandkids come along, my trends may have been revived and reclaimed by the twentysomethings of the future.
Trends are easy to think about and recall, but cultural events and technological innovations tend to be overlooked by future generations. I was eight when the first black president was elected. Both my parents voted for him. I lived through the birth, innovation and popularization of the smart phone. Cars can drive themselves. A robot can do brain surgery. The next step is Mars. The largest recorded glacier is starting to break off the Arctic shelf. Donald Trump was elected president. England left the european union.
History repeats itself, but things change and disguise themselves along the way. Something happens and we all swear we will never do it again. In the 80’s, the Berlin Wall fell. Now, there is talk of building another wall right in my backyard, on the border of Mexico and Texas. Look at Ronald Reagan, and compare him to our new president, Donald Trump.
Ronald Reagan was a movie star, and was elected to be president of the United States. We got through it. His conservative policies and inexperience led to many a misguided program, but we got through it. Trump is a similar complication; staunchly conservative, reality TV Star, everything that I hate. Someone said that Trump is how a person of color would describe the typical white man. Outrageous, privileged, loud. I wish people (myself included) would stop giving him the dignity of recognition and attention, no matter how condemning or negative.
What is the society that elected Trump? The mob mentality truly frightens me. Companies have always exploited this natural human inclination, to fit in, to think what everyone else is thinking, to pick a side.
Will my kids and grandkids forget about the technological, cultural, and scientific revelations of my life? Will they look back and only be able to see the lavender leggings? On the larger scale, I hope future generations will be able to identify and learn from the failures perpetrated by their ancestors. In a world with increasingly widespread access to information through the internet, there is really no excuse.
The steam powered locomotive was said to “destroy time and space” (meaning that travel time was remarkably decreased, and the world shrunk along with it). In the same way, internet and phone capabilities allow ideas and information to travel around the world faster than it ever has before. Promotion isn’t a problem, it’s the content we choose to receive. It’s our job as consumers of information to seek out the truth. The spread of knowledge and truth is what propels a society forward.