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
old thing is the same as the gap between
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.