Even though I was fairly young in the late 1980's, one of my strongest memories was how relaxed everything about life seemed to be. It felt like a period where there were very little worries, if any at all. A child could walk to the shops alone without a fear in the world of being picked up by a stranger. Neighborhood kids could play in the street without a risk of being hit by a speeding hoon or attacked, bashed and robbed by older youths. You could even run and play at the local park and in the sandpit without shoes and not worry about discarded needles.
Maybe that's what childhoods are supposed to be like: kids being protected from any danger, nothing to fear and given every opportunity to love all aspects of life with the knowledge of how awesome being a kid is.
But my reflection on the 1980's from the view of myself now as an adult, is that everything was so much better than it is today:
communities were more open and friendlier
people helped each other without wanting something in return
your income vs cost of living was more fair
more time was spent outdoors with our strong sense of imagination and creativity as well as playing sports, instead of time-consuming and brain-numbing technology,
people communicated using more personal and private methods,
it felt like there was less dangerous drugs being freely used
as well as a lower proportion of crime,
families seemed more at peace with less public arguments and lower divorce rates
shops were closed on Sundays so it was awesome to enjoy Family Day together
the movies were epic and the music was pretty good (even with the over-reliance of synthesizers!)
McDonald's gave out great toys, calendars and food vouchers with affordable Happy Meals etc.
The 1980s produced some amazing technology like electronic games including my beloved Wonder Boy, Bubble Bobble, Alex Kidd and Mario Brothers.
Telephones required circular movements to dial out with curly phone cables providing finger entertainment during long calls.
Computer screens displayed neon green characters, floppy disks were almost as big as a tissue box, neighbors could hear you using your printer and the continuous dot matrix printing paper made the best paper airplanes.
Enid Blyton was the greatest children's author and nobody ever felt the need to question her choice of elitist, sexist and racist characters.
Fast forward almost 30 years and it's mind blowing how changed our lives feel to the point that the 1980's may as well have been some other lifetime, particularly upon considering the effects of globalization and the massive developments of technology we've experienced.
Everyone and everything has at one point been affected by these changes.
Natural disasters can make international news from anywhere in the world like the earthquake in Helambu, a small remote village in Nepal, which experienced an earthquake in the spring of 2015 and the world knew about it in less than an hour.
White supremacist groups can use the internet to attract more members, international support and crowdfunding from sites like Hatreon.
A petition on Change.org can change events and people's lives such as the campaign attracting the support of over one million signatures to save Sudanese woman Meriam Ibrahim from death row as a result of marrying a Christian man.
The international exchange of ideas, motivations, beliefs, behaviors, cultures, demands etc . . . it's impossible to consider how far this could continue into the future, especially when it's becoming out of control with the added aspect of political correctness:
In March 2007, police in the United Kingdom seized two golliwog dolls from a shop after receiving complaints that they were offensive.
Asking for the knitting patterns to make a golliwog doll on an Australian Knitting & Crochet Facebook page will see you flamed, slandered, given death threats and your profile banned from the page.
Western countries have removed Christmas decorations in some shopping centers because of minority sensitivities
The St John of God Hospital in Geraldton at one point covered crucifixes to accommodate the spiritual needs of Muslim patients and possibly still do
The State Government in Western Australia considered removing the gender of babies on birth certificates in 2018 but this was later scrapped.
Outrageous. Offensive. Blasphemy. Racist.
A violation of moral rights.
We've now reached a point where everything is potentially contentious and offensive. We've progressed to allow gay marriage but using certain sexual wording can see you charged with sexual vilification, harassment and discrimination.
New issues are constantly arising such as the article posted on the ABC News website on how transgender people were withdrawing from society due to a lack of gender-neutral toilets (27 May 2018).
So I look back at the 1980's from both my personal experiences as a child and now reflecting back as an adult. Everything seemed to be taken so lightly back in the day and it didn't really matter what you said. It was always a case of "she'll be right", people where described as a larrakin if they said something offensive and if someone reacted, they either were told to "knock it off" or they 'took it outside'. It's only now that I realize that this may actually be my strongest memory of the 1980's.
These days it seems like you can't even fart without risking a criminal charge, due to its overt offensiveness. An interesting ABC News article published in 2011 tells of Malawian lawmakers who were considering criminalizing public farting, an act which has been "encouraged by democracy" and as a result of "multipartism or freedom".
It has come to a point where people are afraid of expressing their personal views and it doesn't help that Australia is the only Western liberal democracy that does not have a bill of rights when it comes to free speech. We are subject to a number of different laws restricting it including defamation laws, hate speech laws, sexual harassment laws and laws against threatening others. In other words, there's a lot that we appear to censor.
In theory, Australians have equal rights when it comes to being protected against someone's freedom of speech, regardless of whether or not this actually occurs in reality. It can be translated as a form of censorship in an attempt to prevent people being offended by another person, which results in acts such as covering crucifixes in a hospital, offering members of the public a third option for toilet facilities other than the standard of female and male and now the question of whether a baby's sex should be removed from birth certificates.
How far will we go when maybe enough is enough?