24 November 2010

A Word on Chronological Snobbery

C.S. Lewis coined the phrase "chronological snobbery" to describe our natural inclination to assume that we- as a species- are smarter and wiser today than we were in the past. 

It's an easy trap to fall into, given the tragic hilarity of this 1960's TV ad for carcinogen-based flooring. 

Or an ad wherein radioactive particles are smeared across the face of a model:


Old ads are an irresistible time capsule.  They show us the 80's hair we used to have.  The groovy way we used to rap to one another. Our long-forgotten  aspirations.  And the painfully outdated norms once perfectly fashionable.

Let's laugh while we can- because there'll come a reckoning. 

In a few years, our turn will come; we, and future generations, will look back at our culture, as it is today, and split a gut laughing.  They'll laugh at our clothes.  Our hair.  Our media.  Our tastes in music, fashion, and entertainment.

And they'll laugh at things we accept that will be banned, shunned, debated and feared in coming years. 

Which makes you wonder:  what are the "asbestos floors" or our time?


  1. My vote for the asbestos floors of our time is gasoline in cars. I suspect people will look back on us pumping petroleum into our vehicles and be stunned.