People born post 1990 may think society has always been like it is, but having been born in the late 40s, I can compare what is to what was. Over those seventy and more years, things have changed dramatically, some for the better naturally, but many not so.
What has been substantially erased is freedom especially of movement and expression. Now we can be prosecuted just for expressing an opinion, publicly, online or even verbally. The cancel culture is alive and well. How did we get to such a stage?
Not all in the past was honkey-dory. Alcohol was a major problem, but I put this down to men returning from the war and them trying to adjust into civilian life. Now it is drugs, which quite frankly was not a problem when growing up in Tasmania. We never had to deal with the threat of terrorism or ethnic gangs roaming our streets. Life was indeed simpler and many today may think boring, but one does not miss what one does not have. I find in today’s society with all our gadgets, technology and materialism people are no happier, indeed I suggest less so. Everyone seems stressed out. We don’t relax anymore. Each day is the same; crowds, heavy traffic and shopping.
In past years the weekend was something really to look forward to. Saturday was for sports or entertainment. Sundays was to have a break, to visit or be visited, have a picnic and if so desired rest in church. Now it is 24 hour sport.
Services were better in the past. Having grown up in my early years without television I can remember our home being delivered bread from the baker, meat from the butcher, groceries from the local shop and milk in bottles with cream on top. Postal service was twice a day and once on Saturday mornings. By personal experience it can take up to ten days to get a letter delivered from Hobart to Sydney and visa versa.
In 1945 the war had finished and unlike many European countries Australia boomed. Work was coming out of one’s ears. I began working in 1967 and there were so many jobs to choose from. My first job lasted three weeks. It was not for me so I got another one within a week. Whereas we once produced goods there is now nothing but show rooms importing goods. White goods, cars, even pegs, matches and bottles were Australian made. The Zinc Works employed 2,500 men and Hobart buzzed waiting for their half year bonus and more so, the Christmas bonus. Hobart city was full of Tasmanian-owned shops, including department stores. It had a uniqueness and charm, but it is now being turned into just another international city.
Churches gave the guidance society needed, but with their demise and their influence on the community, anything seems to go, much of it quite weird. And in those days there were but two sexes, male and female and not the 150 the BBC have told their staff. As said, life was simpler. Houses for young married couples were affordable. There was swearing, but not in front of women or children. It was fun to be to the airport; now it is a nightmare. The police singly or as couples pounded the beat without wearing guns.
Local football, with Tasmania being regional, was huge. In the south it was not only covered by three local radio stations (or as we termed it wireless) 7ZR (ABC), 7HO and 7HT but within a couple of hours, the Saturday Evening Mercury carried pages of full reports on the games just played. The paper was delivered door to door by a boy with a tray selling lollies and chocolates as well. Now of course children would not be allowed to walk the streets, but quite frankly, I cannot recall any report of a boy being mugged nor have his money stolen. And again, while attending primary and high school one was allowed to return for lunch, as mother was home. One simply walked out from school without any need for permission and return at the suitable time.
There were funny things too. When Springfield opened up and many Polish immigrants moved there, the area had no sewage. It was serviced by the night cart. I can vividly remember the night cart lorry racing down Derwent Park Road to dispose of its contents.
So what has improved over the years? I’m not too sure. Society has changed, but has it changed for the better? Technology has not provided an improvement. Technology is fine when it works. If computers are down, then the banking system, indeed the whole of society stops. It is very much a tender issue and open to sabotage.
I have to say the quality of the River Derwent has improved to what it was. It was terribly polluted when I was young. However gone is the choice of transport. Then we had four forms i.e. trolley buses, trams (which should never had been taken off) passenger rail and of course diesel buses.
When one phoned a business you got a real person on the other line not this press “one for”….and so forth. Politicians were respected, but at this juncture in time I have never seen such disillusionment in our leaders by the populace.
When television commenced in 1960 we had two channels, now we have dozens mostly of which produce nothing but piffle.
And education? Well, learning the three rrrs was a priority. Social engineering was unknown. It was a much more stable and free society with everyone knowing what was expected of them.
We are now so divided on race, culture, religion, sexuality and of course politics. True, there were always division when it came to politics, but the disunity has now spread to other sectors There was a divide back then between Catholics and Protestant, but it was mild. In Tasmania it really did not matter at all.
That’s just for starters. Perhaps it will make many reflect and others ponder.