I thank the regulatory regime of the 1980s for not allowing me to throw away many hours a week on meaningless competition. (Today, I have Twitter for that.) But I despair for those who are now young: So many addictions can be indulged, some (like porn) without leaving the home and without interacting with others. Why venture outside when the weed guy delivers? Did anyone count on a sharp turn toward libertarianism leading to everyone doing his thing alone?
Technological and legal limitations created a lot of boredom in the Eighties. On the plus side, though, boredom was the main reason my friends and I went over to one another’s houses, or spent time playing team sports or just talking on the phone. Even after cable TV arrived, television was garbage. As late as the early 1990s, Bruce Springsteen could chant, “Fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on.” The Internet and on-demand television were the stuff of sci-fi.
What all of this frustration led to was interaction. Access to recorded entertainment was so tightly rationed by price that you might have to actually leave the house to experience the desired item. (Say, Monty Python’s Matching Tie and Handkerchief album. Many times I biked over to my friend John’s house to listen to it.) Or somebody would rent Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and everyone would gather to watch it together over pizza.