I’m going to start out by disclaiming I was young then so my experience comes by what I saw personally. My parents were no Reagan fans but many of their friends were. Most if their friends owned businesses and claim he helped keep taxes low and business sales up. However I saw other things that correspond to what we see today. For example, this is the era of the superwoman who worked a lot and came home to do housework. This was partly because that generation of men were brought up with housewife moms. There were also lots of career women. You saw a lot of this on television shows, even sitcoms with families. This was common, and I don’t remember a lot of sitcoms with stay at home moms. This is actually contrary to what I saw a lot because while it was common for mom to work, most moms in my neighborhood seemed to have part time jobs unless they were single. Also important to bring up this seemed to be the decade of workaholics. It seemed to me that it was more and more expected to work over 40 hours. I had friends with parents who were never around due to working. Of course it seemed there were lots of office jobs. Automation and outsourcing eliminated many jobs.
Then there was the threat of war. It was often talked about at school that we may have a nuclear attack. There were movies about this and many were creepy. There was also the space race and how it seemed things got more advanced. We finally got our first female astronaut and of course dealt with tragedy when Challenger exploded. There was definitely a cold war both in fear and trying to beat the Russians in everything.
Pop culture was another thing and it was spurred by materialism. This was the decade where it seemed it was all spend. There was new technology to buy like computers and VCR and who can forget the Cabbage Patch Kid craze? I wanted one that Christmas and my mom said I’d have to wait until it died down. Eventually I would get two and inherit a third from my Grandma and they sit on my bed. Malls were the hangout and we’d shop and browse. I’d buy the latest album by a New Wave band and play it nonstop.
The 80’s doesn’t have the nostalgic look like earlier decades and I think it’s because it was the beggining of the end. This is when many jobs were leaving or not a sure thing. Interesting to note that unlike earlier decades there haven’t been as many popular shows set in the 80’s. About ten years ago several 80’s based shows aired and immediately cancelled. Only recently have there been successful shows set in the 80’s. I am a fan of one of these and go to a message board to talk about the show and it makes people question why people don’t want to remember the 80’s. Was it because our problems stem from this decade?