by Aaron Smith
PRO SE PRESENTS Fantasy and Fear #2
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The present stinks!
Seriously, although there are enough advantages to the Twenty-First Century to make it, technically, the best time in human history to be alive, nothing about that fact says that I have to like the essence, the feeling of living now. Yes, we live longer thanks to improvements in medicine. We’re more comfortable on a daily basis than ever before because of our technology, which I wouldn’t want to give up completely. We have faster
access to more kinds of information than ever before, and that’s a great thing. If we look at it from that angle, then the present is a pretty good time to be alive.
Still though, in some ways, I prefer the past. Not the distant past, for that was much too dangerous and primitive for the tastes of anyone who wants any kind of civilized existence, but the fairly recent past looks awfully good from where I’m sitting. My love for the past even shows up in the way I phrase things sometimes, not that I do it intentionally. Look, for instance, at how I began this little description of my opinion. I said ‘The present stinks!’ I could have said it ‘sucks,’ but that would smack of the contemporary casual usage of profanity that wasn’t there a few decades ago. I’m not an old man, though some seem to think I act like one, curmudgeonly and cranky. I’m barely into my thirties, but even that’s old enough to remember a time when six year olds didn’t toss around curses like they were scarred and tanned old sailors. There is no profanity that’s worth its weight in offensiveness any more, since it’s all so overused.
I miss people’s respect for privacy too. Nobody seems to value it anymore. The quiet that we all used to have sometimes, the time to stop and think. The times when we could be just a bit isolated for just a few hours. I, for one, have no desire to be in constant contact with anyone. Not through perpetually blabbing into a cell phone, not by texting, not by any means. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that I don’t need to be talking to them at every waking moment.
Maybe it’s just my natural eccentricity, but I like to, sometimes at least, feel like I’ve stepped back in time just a blink or a decade or half a century. Stepped back to a time that seems cleaner, more innocent; even if it’s only that way through pretended rose-colored glasses. A time more elegant and somehow purer. The Forties, Fifties, Sixties, even the Seventies and Eighties have a sort of appeal to me. An attraction that calls out to me like a magnet or a movie poster that makes me want to see that film and get lost, if only for a few precious and surreal hours, in an era that I just missed by what amounts to only an ounce of fluid in the deep and rapid river of time.