The other day, I saw someone out walking her dog. The dog had just defecated, and she was bending down with a plastic bag to clean it up. No big deal. We all probably see similar scenes all the time. But, for whatever reason, this got me thinking about how much things have changed in the last thirty years. And not just cell phones and the internet and other technologies. I’m talking about social norms. So many things that were perfectly normal back then would be shocking now.
I don’t remember exactly when the change happened, but it used to be the norm that when people took their dogs for walks, they just left the poop on the ground. Stepping in dog-doo was an occasional inconvenience that happened to everyone. It was common to the point that Johnnie Johnson recorded a song about it. It’s hard to imagine now, but that’s how we were.
Seat belts are another one. When I was a kid, I knew people who never, ever wore seatbelts. I knew other people who wore seatbelts in the front seat, but not in the back seat. We even let kids sit on the hump (remember when cars had a hump?) completely unbuckled. Older cars at the time didn’t even have seatbelts. Then, there was a whole period where seatbelts were a contentious social issue. Kind of like masks are now. There were people who fought against seatbelt mandates. They claimed they were uncomfortable, it was an infringement on their rights, and some even said seatbelts were dangerous. Seems crazy, but that how it was.
Smoking is an obvious one. People used to smoke everywhere. Those of us who never smoked still spent a good chunk of our lives breathing noxious clouds of tobacco. And smokers would drop their butts everywhere. I suppose litter is a lesser issue, but people didn’t think twice about it. Weird.
Most of these changes have been for the better. Although, I’m not sure about the dog poop one. The plastic waste from the cleanup may be worse than the poop. But I’m happy about segregating smokers and wearing seatbelts. It’s funny, I don’t think my daughter even believes me when I tell her how things were. People are wild.