Feeling old, depending on how old you are

I recently discovered Martin O’Leary‘s Feeling Old twitter bot,1 which has a big list of “things that have happened” and then constructs comparisons such as “Y2K was as close to the release of Return of the Jedi as to now”, to make you do that weird “wow, I am old!” double-take. As Martin says, it occasionally throws out a gem. But, looking through the list, I think that they’re probably all gems, but whether they hit home for you depends on how old you are.

Basically, the form of the sentence is: thing is closer to old thing than to today. Ideally, you want thing to be something that you think is recent, and old thing to be something that you think is ancient, and therefore you’ll be surprised that thing really isn’t actually recent and that’s because you’re a decrepit old codger.

My theory is this: old thing ought to be before you were born. By definition, anything that happens before you were born feels like a long time ago to you. And the gap between thing and old thing is the same as the gap between thing and now (because that’s what constructs the sentences). So thing has to happen in the first half of your life. Stuff that happens while you’re a young child also feels like a long time ago — you were a kid when it happened! — so we want something that happened once you started to feel like you in your head. Say, around 12 or so years of age. Thus, we take a big list of pop culture things, find an event which happened between the ages of 12 and half your current age, find a corresponding old event, display them to you, and have you be surprised and displeased. It’s a living.

Give it a try.

I was born

  1. because I was reading his excellent work on how to create accurate looking fantasy maps

More in the discussion (powered by webmentions)

  • John Chandler responded at twitter.com RT @sil: Generating comparisons to make you feel old: kryogenix.org/days/2016/08/1…
  • Roberto Alsina responded at twitter.com @sil "The first Simpsons episode happened closer to Fidel Castro coming to power than to today." FUUUUUUUUCK
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com @ralsina see? :-)
  • Roberto Alsina responded at twitter.com @sil is that bot more/less evil than one that kills puppies? I don't know.
  • Roberto Alsina responded at twitter.com The most depressing program in the universe, courtesy of @sil: kryogenix.org/days/2016/08/1…
  • Don Rideaux-Crenshaw responded at plus.google.com "The Rocky Horror Picture Show happened closer to Babe Ruth's retirement than to today."Hey, you transvestites! Stop playing baseball on my lawn!
  • Mark Johnson responded at twitter.com @sil Having the old things being before I was born makes it hard to get a scale for when they happened
  • Mark Johnson responded at twitter.com @sil Rather than going "that was aaages ago" my brain goes "when was that, then?"
  • Thom Shutt responded at twitter.com RT @sil: Generating comparisons to make you feel old: kryogenix.org/days/2016/08/1…
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com @marxjohnson yeah. I have tried to pick things that people will know about and know happened "a long time ago", but it's difficult
  • x1101 responded at twitter.com @sil amusing. Also, I’ve heard you podcast enough that I read the whole thing hearing your voice. Its an odd thing my brain does.
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com @x1101 blog posts tend to be a bit stream of consciousness, so they're written in my speaking voice :)
  • x1101 responded at twitter.com @sil This line really did me in: “and that’s because you’re a decrepit old codger.”
  • Andrew Spencer responded at twitter.com RT @sil: Generating comparisons to make you feel old: kryogenix.org/days/2016/08/1…
  • Birmingham.IO responded at twitter.com Stuart Langridge: Feeling old, depending on how old you are by @sil buff.ly/2aO8YA3 #PlanetBirmingham
  • Martin O'Leary responded at twitter.com A nice piece by @sil on how my bot @feelingoldbot works (on an emotional, rather than technical level): kryogenix.org/days/2016/08/1…
  • Martin O'Leary responded at twitter.com A nice piece by @sil on how my bot @feelingoldbot works (on an emotional, rather than technical level): kryogenix.org/days/2016/08/1…
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