Actually only singing off for five days (M-F). Why you ask?
Yes, around ArchaeoBlog manor it will be. . . .THE 1980S!!!
In other words, I’m going to live like it was the 1980s for five days. What an odd idea. Yes. Well, I’ve been contemplating something like this for a couple of years now, although mostly planning for a Live Like The 1970s Week instead. But I’m doing the ’80s instead. I got the original idea when I had an hour and a half drive back from a field project in my Mustang II and, as men my age are often wont to do, started wondering what Teenage Me would think of my life as it is now. And then, as a little bit of a mental exercise, started wondering what all was really that much different from when I was a teenager in the 1970s. That’s not so odd, as I was driving a 1978 car at the time.
So I started ticking off my daily routine and seeing what all was really different from what I would have been doing in the 1970s, what all was pretty much the same, etc. Really down to the most minor things, like, say, toothpaste. When I got home and throughout the next few days I took mental notes of things I was doing and using with the same questions in mind. Could I go back to those days and actually survive with sanity intact?
I’d actually seen a couple of news stories of families provided with the accouterments of the 1960s or 1950s for a week to see how they’d react, not to mention the occasional news article about someone who’s tried to do their work with an old computer. So it’s not like the idea is unique to me.
Then for Halloween I dressed up as ‘1980s Me’ complete with vintage t-shirt, jacket, sweatshirt, and glasses from those days and started wondering anew what it would be like to time travel back to 1983 or so. And since the ArchaeoWIfe is traveling on business for the week so I figured now would be a good time to have a go at it, without inconveniencing anyone else. So, here I go.
Now, obviously I can’t recreate the world of 30 years ago in anything approaching true fidelity. And I do have a job to do which might cause some problems if I showed up with no cell phone and no computer and tried to get anything done. So in some part, I’ll still have to exist in the here and now. At the same time, I can still insert some of the ’80s into my routine without causing too many problems, for me or my compatriots. For example, back then we didn’t have an Internet with streaming audio so I’m going to avoid that. Also I shan’t be fiddling on the Web for recreational purposes, either at work or at home.
I’m already going into withdrawals. . . . .
There’s some tech that I can really recreate and use and others that I have to improvise. For example, I would, at work, usually have a Walkman to keep me entertained. Since finding one is rather difficult, and I’m not going to buy a new, similar one just for a week’s use (not to mention not having a single cassette tape to play on one), I’m going to improvise. I’ll use my smart phone to stream a couple of local radio stations to listen to (through headphones only!), and perhaps if I convince myself it’s acceptable to play some albums, mimicking cassettes. At home I have my old 1980-vintage stereo complete with tuner and vinyl LPs, so that won’t be much of a problem. And no CDs either (more on that in a bit).
I have an old car that I can use — though not the CD player — although I’ll probably substitute the 1997 Honda Civic instead if it’s raining because the old Mustang doesn’t do well in the rain.
Trying to decide if I should still wear my contact lenses or not. True, they had soft lenses in the 1980s, but I didn’t get them until the 1990s. And it might be more of a pain than it’s worth. But we’ll see.
I will take time out every evening to type in a journal for the day. I thought about handwriting everything (I still may), but then I’d have to transcribe it all and I think I’d probably not do that. Instead, I’ll open up the old computer and type it into a simple Word document, sort of mimicking a simple word processor from those days. I will also need to be at least monitoring my email and cell phone because, well, it needs to be done.
Oh yeah, I’m using my baseline as 1983/1984 or so. Just because.
One thing is problematic (well, more than one thing, but this is the really interesting thing): What do I decide wasn’t there in the 1980s? What’s the evolutionary angle? For example: Yes, there were cell phones in the 1980s. For that matter, there were cellular phones in the 1970s, although not really that common or available. And for an even other matter, there were mobile phones available back in the 1940s. So how does one say “No, this technology wasn’t available” when in some cases — probably most cases — it really was in some form or another? I’m mostly just winging it, and will be taking notes — handwritten ones! — as I go. For the most part, I’ll be trying to live how I experienced the 1980s. I didn’t have access to cell phones in the 1980s, so I won’t be using one. Same thing with CDs, they were around, but they weren’t all that widespread for most of the decade, and I certainly didn’t get any until into the 1990s (I think).
So yeah, it’s not perfect, but that’s part of the intellectual fun of it.
It’s also got some cultural evolutionary implications in there as well which I’ll try to focus on.
So there you have it: 1980s week. I urge readers to have a go with it yourselves. Look around and ask yourselves what around you is different from your personal world when you were, say, a teenager. What’s the same? Are things qualitatively different or quantitatively so? When you do ‘x’ consider how you might have done the same thing then. For example, finding out whether a store is open when you want to go: now, you’d punch it into your web browser to find out. Then, you’d probably have to find the store’s phone number — probably in a physical telephone book — and call the store yourself on a fixed landline telephone. That sort of thing.
See you in 30 years!