Reverse Chronological Snobbery


It’s a common refrain for lots of us to lament that we were born too late. “Things were better, then,” we say, without specifying much beyond some vaguely defined “golden age.”

“There are no more good girls!”

“Where are all the real men?!”

“Nobody has any respect for anyone or anything these days!”

“What happened to our leaders?”

And here’s a classic: “Our grandparents never had to deal with this stuff!”

I call this reverse chronological snobbery. Conventional chronological snobbery holds that everything now is better than what those less-enlightened folks had then. You’re all smart enough to know what the inverse of that is.

But not so fast. While it’s true that some things are worse, mostly the fact that we’ve been discarding tried-and-true human things that have worked for millennia in favor of fads cooked up by faculty Marxists, and that older generations, particularly the Boomers, have royally screwed over Gen-Xers and Millennials, this really is the best time to be alive in a lot of ways.

In fact, I think I was born too early.

Don’t believe me? Let me explain. 

In the late 1990s, David Bowie said “If I was 19 again, I’d bypass music and go right to the internet.” This should resonate with all of us.

David Bowie The Thin White Duke 1976

No matter what you like doing, the Internet has made it easier to do, especially if you want to forego traditional routes and go things on your own.

Are you into music? Put it up on the Internet. Ditto filmmaking, or crafts, or really any other business. Take writing, for instance. You can self-publish. The numbers are in: Self-published authors make more than a majority of the traditional print market. It’s a fact, and largely thanks to the Internet.

And then there’s politics and commentary. We’ve seen people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Arianna Huffington and Mike Cernovich and Nate Silver and Matt Drudge make their presences felt, largely on-line. People like this have changed the media landscape with little more than Internet connections and a device they can type on.

We also can’t forget what many used to scoff at or call the domain of the creeper: Meeting people online. I don’t mean just for romantic reasons, though there is that, but also finding like-minded people you can connect with and even get together with in real life. Lots of relationships, romantic and personal, have started on the Internet, as people from around the world can band together to enrich their lives and the lives of others.

Can’t find any “good girls” or “good boys”? I’m sure they’re out there somewhere looking for somebody like you. The difference is that now instead of languishing in whatever city or town they were stuck in, they can find each other.

Sharing a religious message, raising money for charity, fighting back against injustice, exposing the truth, having fun, creating art–I mean, look at things like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, for crying out loud–have changed the landscape of civilization for the better. Of course there’s the bad, with freaks like ISIS also utilizing the Internet’s potential, but on the whole it’s been a net benefit to society.

So was I born too late? Hell no! If anything, despite all of the craziness of being young in the twenty-first century, like Mr. Bowie, I’d love the chance to be 19 again. For example, with all of the opportunities and free knowledge available on the Internet, I probably would have had a much easier time finding that alternative to college I was yearning for.

And this is just the Internet! There are also things like modern medicine, transportation, our relative safety and comfort, and so on.

The takeaway is this: Every era has its problems. Don’t be a reverse chronological snob. Focus on where and when you are now and not what you wish you could return to. You can’t control the past, but you can control the future. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. There’s never been an easier time to do so.


    • I definitely imagined myself coming of age in 1980s California, say, or 1960s London, but why not now? I think now would be a good time to come of age, provided you have good parents.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Months back, I drafted a post that totally corresponds with this notion. I’ll have to revisit and see if I can’t tie it in to this conversation. The notion of “being born too late” is a discouraging one, and you’ve done a nice job negating it optimistically! Very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jon. I’ve always thought that every era has its problems and it’s silly to pretend that everything–EVERYTHING–was better way back when. There are pluses and minuses to every epoch, and in my opinion the pluses of now far outweigh the minuses. Is there room for improvement? Of course. There always is. But we were born now for a reason.

      I’m looking forward to your take on the topic!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In fact notice the little mental tick: First, we are moving into an ever-better future ever more modern and scientific and advanced, then, minutes later, the good old days were so much better.

    A more coherent worldview says people don’t change much, but we have some cool toys now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that formulation: Human nature is human nature, but now we have better gadgets. Yes!

      That’s also why I don’t think we’ll ever “outgrow” God, save for such a thing being violently enforced (which it usually is).


  3. Awesome post. Today does have its benefits, for sure. I wish I knew earlier that all this stuff would get made, but you don’t catch everything. That’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

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