liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Random Thoughts About Old vs New Great Depression

Back in the Old Great Depression young people moved back to their families.  They could not afford rent, so they went where the roof over their head was paid for.  They took care of their elders, scrounged for food and supplies, and did whatever they could do to keep the households afloat. 

A similar process is of returning home is happening now.  Many college age kids have returned to nests recently emptied.  Older children area also returning home, or staying home instead of setting out into the world.  They settle into a spare room, use the internet, eat the food.  Some exert themselves to take care of their parents or grandparents or siblings who are less able, and do the work that needs to be done around the house.  The richer and more entitled ones hunker down with gaming or other internet pursuits and refuse to even grocery shop.  The internet is the difference.  Back in the Old days our best avoidant distractions were books, now in the New it is the bottomless pit of sex and violence and disinformation that is the internet.  A mind-corrupting abundance of dopamine hits.  Back in the Old days the youth still had a work ethic that included the possibility of picking up a rake or a hoe or a hammer.  Now in the New days the youth think they should have gotten rich and famous somehow but they didn't, and now they don't know what to do.

Granted, the distancing requirements and loss of employment are especially hard on young people who are just getting their feet wet in the world.  But I have to put it out there that there are things worth learning and exploring at home.  Elders have things to teach.  Knowing how to build a wall, fix a pipe, or grow a vegetable garden, these are valuable skills.  Sure, you grew up in a time when your parents hired someone else to build and repair the house, and you got your groceries wrapped in plastic from a grocery, or already prepared from a restaurant.  But food grows from the earth, you too can grow it.  Animal food has to be butchered--are you ready to kill your meat?  This is your chance to learn some things that have been progressively more forgotten over the last 5 generations in America.  It's a good time to be able to subsist.

Back in the Old Great Depression, people got happier.  Several different studies noticed this change.  I have lots of theories about why this was true.  I suspect that being forced to work out differences with your families helps people grow up.  Instead of remaining a petulant child who has it your way but lives alone, you can learn to live with others and understand and respect their point of view.  I think that growing up takes us to a happier place.  I think that having honest, real, loving relationships with the people you know best is the strongest foundation of happiness.

During the Old Great Depression businesses closed but there was no pandemic.  In the New Great Depression we know that when the virus finds our ailing and elderly relatives, they will die.  This is a very hard thing.  I am mourning already for people that I talk to every day.  I know that someone dear to me will die, it is only a matter of time.  Back in the Old days people were dying at a normal rate.  Now we are dying by the thousands and we're nowhere near done with that yet.  The deep sadness is pervasive.

Tags: america, death, economics, history, internet, pandemic, youth

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