Call me a hater, but I believe the alleged goodness and sweetness of the ‘ole time days’ is grossly exaggerated. It doesn’t vex me when I hear people say it (I usually just smile and nod), but I view it in the same light as stories about La Diablesse and Soucouyant – entertaining tales meant to scare children.
My main scepticism lies in a fundamental, logical flaw involving the fact that the term ‘ole time days’ means different things to different people. My ‘ole time days’ may be what another person is admonishing as the bane of recent times, and what I consider to be recent and annoying may be someone else’s nostalgia-filled golden era, some years from now.
But when was the last time you ever heard a Trini let logic get in the way of a good rant? Listening to older people – even people not much older than I – you’d swear that ‘long time’, all of the young people were angels. They usually say the youth of the nation were kinder and less prone to indiscipline, “back in my day”. Thing is… every generation had its ills. And worse yet, some of these same people were some ah de biggest bad john in school.
You will see a tantie with her 15 children immediately ‘jumping’ on young people today, saying, “They like too much sex” or “She doh know how to close she legs”. So how did she get her set? Cloning? Sometimes the hypocrisy is too much for me.
A few years ago, a heavy issue that threatened to sink T&T was sexual acts caught on tape by some enterprising, young Steven Spielbergs, who were still in secondary school. “Not in my day!” cried concerned citizens. Sure… ‘Long time’ young people didn’t do that sort of thing… They were all vowed celibates. In my days (and I left secondary school in 2001), many junior and senior secs always had a deserted classroom known to everyone, or at least the students, as the room that people have sex in. A room of that auspicious nature, plus horny teenagers and poor school policing, will give you the same results – today, or ‘long time’. So, I’m not convinced that teenagers back in the day were any less deviant.
“Society, technology and other external factors have the net effect of making things different.”
Then, when older heads aren’t whining about young people, they’re complaining about the ‘young people music’. Here’s the thing about music eh. Between the ages of 12 and 18, music has its most indelible effect because it’s accompanied by significant events in your life – your first wine at your school disco, your first slow dance at a grad, your first crush on some boy-band member, or your first drink in a club. As a result, people usually refer to the best music as the tunes they listened to during their awkward period. Unsurprisingly, many of their claims about the quality of music during this period aren’t based on actual assessment of the music, but on the memories associated with them.
In terms of behaviour, temperament and conscience, I don’t believe there is any difference between people of now and yesteryear. However, I do believe society, technology and other external factors have the net effect of making things different. Notice I didn’t say worse.
For example, communication is ‘worse’ now, right? You might be speaking to someone now only to see their distracted eyes saunter down to their ‘Crackberry’ to ‘tief’ an adulterous conversation on the side. Face-to-face communication is definitely on a slippery slope, but on the plus side it’s easy to connect with people whether in your vicinity or millions of miles away. School reunions, which used to involve the painful task of finding people’s locations and phone numbers via your network of friends, are now brain-dead easy because Facebook now maintains your network of friends. Some people have even found family members they never knew existed, parents they have been looking for, and friends that they have lost contact with, all from the comfort of their home.
And if you ask anybody, crime now is the “worst it’s ever been”. These days the average person has access to a different ‘set of resources’, so arguments, which might have left someone with a bruised ego before, in too many cases, now leaves them motionless. Now that doesn’t mean the criminal is any less evil than before, but the result of his (or her) actions are a bit more permanent now. On the plus side, however, better tools to facilitate criminal activity are now coupled with better equipment to curb it.
In Trinidad and Tobago, certainly, we have struggled to keep crime ‘down’, but in places such as New York, the crime rate has been dramatically reduced through the use of updated crime-fighting techniques and policing strategies, new legislation, breakthroughs in surveillance equipment, and other processes, which are dynamic and evolve as time progresses. In December 31, 2007 New York City had 494 reported homicides, which is the lowest it has been in over 50 years.
So my point is this. The ‘ole time days’, overall, aren’t any better or worse than now. Sure there are aspects, which have improved, or degraded, but for the most part things are largely just different. I’m pretty sure this won’t stop any Trini from ‘ole talking’, but my suggestion is to live a long life and enjoy the uniqueness of each age you find yourself trapped in. You’ll be happier that way.
Old Time Days by Nappy Myers.