Monday, October 16, 2006

300 million

What's the deal with this article from


"Forty years ago, Elizabeth Heydanek lived in her "heaven on earth" -- Schaumburg, Illinois. She chased lightning bugs in her back yard, filled buckets on the porch with tadpoles from a nearby creek, played tag with friends. Elizabeth was 7 years old in 1967, one of 200 million Americans at the time. As she and her country grew -- the 300 millionth American will be born at 7:46 a.m. ET Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau says -- things changed in Schaumburg and the country."


"With population growth comes stress. Those care-free playtimes Heydanek remembers from Schaumburg don't exist for many of today's 7-year-olds, an American Academy of Pediatrics study released this month said. The report cited hurried lives, intense competition to get ahead, poverty and lack of open space -- all related to a growing population -- as adding stress to kids' lives and depriving them of the development opportunities that old-fashioned play provides. Heydanek attests to that. Though her three children are now in their 20s, she recalls just a few years ago how the nightly family sit-down dinners she had in Schaumburg were replaced in Cary with a microwave and a bag of fast food in the middle of the table."

Look, I don't want to be Johnny Nostalgia-Killer, but...know what? I'll just stop here, because anything I say will get me in trouble. Mair, j. morgan, and the rest of the blogosphere: what do you think?


At 9:37 PM, Anonymous inviolable said...

First thing that I noticed was the poor quality of the writing.

"At 46, Heydanek has another 31 years before she reaches the average American life expectancy in 2003. It undoubtedly will be longer in 2037 with advances in health care and technology." -- am I supposed to pity her and her stupid living self as she engages in entitlement gobbling and/or not fishing? (Speaking of good writing, how about that 'and/or not' construction.)

I'm guessing you're restraining yourself from rehashing the "bad ol' days" argument of which you are so fond. Doesn't that have more to do with morality than sociology?


At 11:36 PM, Blogger Jonathan Roth said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Jonathan Roth said...

So which is it? Are kids nowadays dumber than rocks in a supposedly horrendous public education system or Gordon Gekkos going hypertensive just trying to get through life in a kid eat kid world?

That being said I've personally witnessed my nephews and nieces catch both lightning bugs and frogs (kinda tadpoles). I'm sure the writers can cite a peer reviewed statistical study of lower life form collection habits amongst preadolescents over the past 40 years broken down by socioeconomic background justifying their assertions, right?

At 9:37 AM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

Well, I think it is a stupid article, but I take the underlying point to be accurate and significant: the quality, content, and environment of American life has changed drastically over the course of the 20th century, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Now, does Johnny Nostalgia-killer a) disagree that “stuff is different” or b) think that it insignificant even if “stuff is different” or c) just dislike this type of bullshit writing?

At 10:08 AM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

Maybe (c)? I don't know. This article certainly doesn't trumpet the gains we've made. No one is forcing anyone to eat microwaved dinners, are they?

"Fast pace of life" is a concept I struggle with as well.

What do you think? I agree that American life has changed drastically in the last 50 years, for better and for worse.


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