From the Farms to the Cyberworld

Bill Neinast

The Industrial Revolution is blamed for, or credited with, the urbanization of much of the earth.  The wheel replaced the horse, but those old agrarian ways will always be remembered, as the strength of everything powering those modern wheels is measured in “horsepower.”

The impact of the Model T Fords rolling off Henry Ford’s assembly line was dampened by two factors.  First, there was no viable infrastructure system.  Paved roads and bridges were few and far between.

Then building the infrastructure was interrupted at the very beginning by the Great Depression.  There was plenty of labor for the task but very limited funds.

The efforts to move this forward with programs of work for welfare assistance like the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration were interrupted by World 

War II.  For four years, all personnel, material, and money were committed to the war effort.

After a short sigh of relief following the Japanese surrender on  September 2, 1945, and the boys came marching home, the urbanization of America sky rocketed.

The men and women of that era were imbued with a work ethic imprinted from the farm, the war factory, or the military. The war effort, however, taught them that punching a time clock for eight hours a day without concern for the weather was better than walking behind a horse and plow from sunup to sundown and worrying about the weather.

Consequently, the urbanization of America took off in a sprint with Levittown type suburbs growing across the land.

The relatively modest homes in the Levittowns were filled with traditional style families—a mom and dad with Mom staying home to care for the kids and to serve dinner for the whole family seated around the kitchen table.

Then urbanization of America coincided with the beginning of the next revolution.  Let’s call this the Cyber Revolution starting with television.

A primitive type of TV was developed in the late 19th Century, but commercial modification and development did not begin until about the third decade of the 20th Century.  Those efforts, however, were shoved to the back burner by WWII.

After the guns of that war were silenced, TV towers and primitive black and white TV sets began appearing in a few of those new Levittown homes.  As the availability and popularity of those cumbersome TV sets that required a trip across the room to change channels grew, the family dinner table morphed into TV tables and trays.  Family conversation gave way to the latest episode of “Gunsmoke.”

There were also family themed shows like “Father Knows Best,” “Leave  It to Beaver,” and “Make Room for Daddy.”  For some viewers, these shows spawned envy and kicked off the “keep up with the Jones” movement.

The constant scenes of larger, better homes, nicer furniture, and newer automobiles led to appetites and wants that could not be satisfied with only one pay check.  So Mom left the nest and left the little ones to become unsupervised latch key kids.

Then President Lyndon Johnson enters the picture with his Great Society of “Hey, if you don’t want to work, you don’t have to.  We will just send you support money.  The more kids you have, the more we will send you.”   That ushered in welfare instead of workfare like the WPA of the 1930s.

Large, Hi-def TVs proliferated in the growing number of one-parent homes with constant depictions of elaborate life styles.  As greed and envy are rather common, the desire to keep up with the Jones depicted on TV was as great or greater in the new leaderless homes as in Levittown.  There was not, however, a model at home of working and earning the money to match the Jones’ lifestyle, so some just went out and took what they desired.

That is at least one part of our ever growing prison population.

And now comes the next carpet bombing of the Cyber War—the I-Phone.  This  small,  hand held device has consigned even the family TV table and tray get togethers to the trash heap of history.  Who can participate in a family discussion with that device hung on an ear.

And do not even think about trying to interrupt one of those messages being clicked out on the keyboard without punctuation, capitalization, or correct spelling.  

Just sit back and wave bye to correctly written English.

So here’s the perspective.

I think I prefer the pre Cyber War days.


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