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Living in the Past

Ad copy from the 1950’s has a magical ability to transport me to a time when, I imagine, life was slower, simpler, and happier. Neighbors had one another over for casseroles and children played together in the streets. The models in fashion advertisements were hand drawn and colored. School shootings were unimaginable and the hardest drug available was marijuana. If you lived through the 50’s, your recollections may conflict with my idealized nostalgia for a time a never knew, but I won’t let reality interfere with enjoyment.

I can readily imagine, in the not-too-distant future, that my children or grandchildren will look back on present-day America and think of how good we had it. “Back when cars still burned gasoline,” they will say, “and you could hear a real live person DJ’ing on the radio. Back when there was such a thing as radio! Before silicone-encased androids with punched human hair and totally-believable artificial intelligence raised prickly ethical questions and holographic teleportation had us all working 80-hr weeks. Do you remember e-mail?” they will say. “When you had to really type it on a keyboard? Now it is all speech-to-text insta-chat continuously scrolling across the bottom of our smart glasses. I wish we could go back to 2019 and just unplug!”

So that is us, right now, living in the idyllic past. Be sure you are enjoying it. Read a book printed on paper. Write a letter to a friend. Call your mother.

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