A Final Thought: Well, Let Me Tell You. Back in My Day...


By Mitch Allen

Every month when I sit down to write this column, my mind looks to the past for inspiration—elements of my childhood in the deep South, the glory days of the 1960s and ’70s, and comparing yesterday and today. I have to work hard to stay focused on the present, to write a column on artificial intelligence, for example, which I did back in January.

This month, I was going to write about how there are no longer any good dads on television like there were in the heyday of Ward Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver and Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, and how TV dads became either self-absorbed simpletons or bumbling buffoons about the same time Homer Simpson arrived on the scene. But after some research, I learned I was wrong. There are still lots of dutiful, loving dads on TV. I just don’t watch those shows.

Beyond the television (a device my own father use to call “the peep hole into paradise”), today’s real-life dads seem pretty responsible, sharing child-rearing duties far more equally with moms than in my parents’ day. Instead of passing out cigars in the maternity ward, today’s dads are on the front lines in the delivery room. They take their kids grocery shopping and drive carpools. “Soccer dads” are almost as common as “soccer moms.”


See, I’m doing it again—comparing yesterday and today. It’s hard not to, given that I have 61 years in the rearview mirror and far fewer ahead of me. But I don’t want to become that guy, the old man who talks incessantly about the past, repeats “back in my day,” has never been on Instagram, and who doesn’t know who Billie Eilish is.

Oops, I may already be that guy.

Of course, it’s difficult to discuss the present without wading into politics, and Mimi won’t stand for that. She understands that her magazine is a guest in our readers’ homes, so we work to keep politics out of it. The stars of the show within our pages are the quality, locally owned businesses we feature.

Perhaps I’d be better off writing about the future, which I do not believe will be as dystopian as we all seem to fear. That said, I don’t recall any TV dads being worried about the future 50 years ago. Living on the cusp of the personal computer revolution—and using microwave ovens and automatic dishwashers for the first time while standing in the shadow of the awesome achievement of landing on the moon—utterly filled us with hope about the future with its flying cars and enhanced leisure time.

Today, we worry about social media destroying our mental health and artificial intelligence annihilating us all.

Shoot, I’m doing it yet again, comparing yesterday and today.

But there is hope. The collective brain we call the internet has all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, so we no longer view intelligence as just knowing stuff through memorization. Now we can reward those who use information in creative and innovative ways. That’s going to lead to greater and greater innovation in every field—from science and technology to entertainment.

The internet is still the Wild West. We have yet to figure out how to mine all the promise of the Information Age out of the dark rock of misinformation, but I believe we’ll get there, or, rather, our children will. The right libel suit here, the right damage suit there, the right common disaster triggered by the internet, and we’ll discover a balance we can all live with. It’s what Americans do. It’s what humans do.

We work together.

Whoa, right there, did that just sound like Mike Brady?


Categories: Smart Living