Today’s AoM Journaling Challenge:
Hop on the internet and search for the biggest news stories in the year you were born. Infoplease is a great resource for this. Think about how these news stories, or even statistics, may have shaped your childhood or who you are today. For example, the year I was born, it was discovered that 98% of American households had at least one television set. I could write about how television influenced my generation, and continues to do so today, either positively or negatively.
I am a child of the 80s. I was born in 1984, which turned out to not be an Orwellian dytopia, although it did have its share of problems like every year before and after it. I really wouldn’t give up the year of my birth for any other year. It proved to be an extremely pivotal year that shaped contemporary culture especially from a pop culture perspective.
1984 was the year that the MacIntosh personal computer, by Apple Computer, went on sale in the United States. The Macbook Air that I type this post with and do my personal work on harkens back to my birth year. Space exploration moved forward in leaps with the first untethered spacewalk and the launching of the space shuttle Discovery. The shuttle launches would become part of regular TV time and eventually cement my love for space and my desire to become an astronaut at age 4. Chemical weapons were banned by the United Nations, representing the end of an entire era of warfare. Meanwhile, Ethiopia was suffering one of the worst famines of the 20th century and would cement the phrase, “Eat your food, there are children starving in Africa,” into the American parental rhetoric.
My birth year is also one that shaped the fears and worries of my parents. In March of 1984, teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California would be charged with Satanic ritual abuse of the school children. The charges would later be dropped as completely unfounded, but I’m convinced events like this shaped my parents’ views of everything from dungeons & dragons to the potential for any sleepovers. It is also the year that the AIDS virus is discovered which would lead to the contagion fears of the late 80s.
On the popular culture scene, this year’s hits would shape my tastes in music for years to come. This was the year of Michael Jackson’s, “Beat It” and the Thriller album. This would be the year that Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force would write “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” to have it released in 1985 and shape the soundtrack of every single family party of my entire childhood.
Finally, the Dodge Caravan would make its appearance in 1984 and resurface as the family car in my late teens. My family’s caravan would be dubbed “The Magic School Bus” due to the knobs and buttons on the dash whose function I was completely unaware of. It would result in me accidentally invading other families caravans since our key opened other caravan doors and fearing I would be arrested for breaking and entering. It would also instill in me the ability to parallel park anywhere.
My birth year, 1984, shaped my past, my present, and saved me hours of frustration looking for parking spaces. It makes me wonder how the subsequent cultural events of the 80s shaped who I am today. In reality I am not just a child of the 80s, but of all the years I have lived.