In June of 2011, the US Department of Labor released a study on how Americans spend their time. The majority of time was spent on personal care/sleep, followed by work and sports and leisure activities.
This isn’t far off Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd’s study, “From Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture. Lynd and Lynd address the rise of consumer culture and the changes on work and leisure by industrialization from 1924-1925.
Lynd and Lynd go on to state that Middletown’s daily routine include making a living, home-making, receiving training in school, or carrying on religious or communal practices (59). The leisure activities that Middletown people are able to enjoy increased by “Saturday half-holidays combined with new possibilities for spending an extra hour to make leisure a more generally expected part of every day rather than an occasional event,” (59).
The post-Industrial Revolution inventions like the automobile, movies, radio engage members of Middletown and allow them to take part in leisure activities in a way they hadn’t experienced before.
Leisure activities and how people engaged with media changed again with the digital revolution. Newspapers, TV, and radio that were cutting edge at one time, are losing ground to social media, Google, online magazines, iTunes, etc.
Lynd and Lynd make the statement, “Middletown has always delighted in talk. The operation of its business as well as many of its professional institutions depends upon talk,” (59). That core statement was true in 1924, and equally true today. The difference of course, is the way that people are sharing information. Instead of attending public lectures, people are tuning into podcasts.
The emerging technologies of the time like radio and movies were a strong influencer of young people. For example, Lynd and Lynd state that, “some high school teachers were convinced the movies were a powerful factor in bringing about the ‘early sophistication’ of the young and relaxing of social taboos,” (67).
What current technologies do you think have the same affect on children and young adults growing up in the U.S. today?