When I think of the 1950s I see Leave it to Beaver. Mom in hoop skirt and heels doing housework. Dad; hat, briefcase, dress shoes. 2 kids, comfortable suburbs. A life where the biggest problem is a baseball through a window. I know of course that none of this is/was real, even in its time. It’s the 1950s façade.—A protective covering for a decade that was reeling from WWII and gripped by communist suspicions. So in some ways I can’t blame TV audiences for liking shows that cling to this image of normalcy. If I had thought I was safe by distance or civilian status from being harmed by war, and then saw the premier of the atom bomb, industrialized genocide and civilian targeted bombings in Europe, I would weep at June Cleaver’s feet for normalcy. On the other hand however, the show does pull the apron strings a little too tight, which is why watching it today can feel slightly suffocating. The view on normal is very narrow. It is for these reasons that I have always told myself I could never have lived in the 1950s; it would be a nightmare. But more and more I see creepy parallels between the 50s and our time.
I read an article this week called Facebook Is Using You. It talked about data mining on Facebook. At first I think, ya blah blah blah, –they see what I like and advertise based on that, and if I apply to a job my potential employer is going to check it– blah. It can be a slight nuisance to make sure everything on your Facebook is in line for getting hired, but it’s nothing unheard of. I always think, I’m a pretty decent person; I don’t have raging arguments on my wall or drunk pictures. I must be safe. But no. Because the data mining goes way beyond this. It no longer just affects if you’ll be hired. It affects custody battles, taxes, your credit numbers –even immigration and citizenship. Shop at certain stores? Lower credit limit. You’ll have to read the article to get the full scope, but the essence is that through Facebook, government and business is all up in your business. And oftentimes this is to stereotype you. Like guitars? Denied a loan. It seems that the concept of normal is becoming again like it was in the 1950s, narrower and narrower. Suddenly I feel like June Cleaver washing the dishes in my kitchen. Only this time it’s not to prove that I’m not a communist, it’s to prove my citizenship, or keep my kids.