Remember when your parents said something similar to this to you? Maybe it was your grandparents. All of us like to let the generations which follow us know how much tougher it was for our generation and how we paved the way for their easy lives through the hardships we endured.
When I was an undergrad in the early 80's, I remember discussing this very thing with a friend of mine. We worried that we weren't going to have anything to tell our kids about. We had it pretty sweet, and we knew it.
Here is a non-comprehensive list of the things that we did NOT have when that conversation took place:
A dishwasher (although most of our parents did have that luxury at home)
A microwave (again, many of our parents did have these - they were huge and very expensive. I did get one shortly after graduation)
A computer (though we did have access to the 'computer room' at school. Our papers were researched by looking through books in the library, then typed up on our typewriters. One of my roommates had an electric typewriter, so we were pretty spoiled.)
A VCR (the technology existed, but, much like computers, hadn't really made it into the average home yet. DVD's and DVR's, of course, were still science fiction at the time. When one of us had to miss Guiding Light due to circumstances beyond our control, the others would draw a cartoon strip to illustrate what was missed. Yes, for real. )
CD's or a CD player (We did have cassettes, and yes, we did make mix tapes.)
Cell phones (several years later I dated a boy with a 'car phone'. It was enormous. My friends died of jealousy when I told them I was calling from a car. A few years after that I got my first 'mobile'. It was huge, heavy, and insanely expensive. I only used it for the most dire of emergencies.)
Answering machines (If no one picked up the phone when you called, it just rang and rang until you gave up. If you weren't home or didn't make it to the phone when the phone rang, you didn't know who called or what they wanted. Also, if you called someone and they were talking to someone else, you got a busy signal.)
Personal, handheld, or home gaming systems (yeah, there was Pong and stuff. We didn't have it, though. We did, however, go to the video arcade with what we thought was alarming frequency.)
MTV (it existed, we just didn't get it where we went to school. We got Friday night videos, though. When we visited someone who did have MTV, we were transfixed. The year after graduation, when I finally did get it - I don't think I watched anything else for several years...)
Digital cameras (I think at that point I was using an instamatic. You bought flashbulbs. I was pretty stingy with the flashes. They weren't free, you know. And then you had to pay to get them developed. And it took about a week. We also had a Polaroid. It was almost as big as the typewriter...)
Well, like I said, this list was not comprehensive, it's just an off the cuff list. I'm sure there are many more things that I could mention if I put some thought into it. But that's not the point I want to make. The point I'm going for is that we didn't have any of those things, so we didn't miss them. We truly believed ourselves to be the most privileged generation. We couldn't imagine talking about this time with our kids and comparing it negatively to what they had. And now? Wow. Could you live without your computer, your cell phone, your microwave or your dishwasher? Could you even imagine a life without those things? (actually, we lived without a dishwasher for years and a microwave for months. The responses we got when we told people this were funny. Suffice to say, "no, we're not Amish" was actually uttered once or twice.)
So what will our kids be telling their kids they had to live without? What amazing strides will take place in the next 20 years or so that will make today's technology and products look archaic?
What a fun ride it will be, finding out.