What does it mean when some people say "We are the product of our time".
Our values, the way we live are mold by personal circumstances or there are more bigger structures which are beyond us that is why we are, the way we are?
When people say we are a product of our time, I think they mean that alot of our values and opinions are influenced and connected to the society we live in. For instance, many people are in support of gay marriage and support the right for gay couples to adopt etc. but would those same people have the same opinions if they lived in the 1930s or 1940s? Perhaps not. I think it's a mixture of individual experience and the society and the times in which you live.
As late as the 1970s gays were arrested and thrown in jail for being gay. Hence you are right in saying that gay marriage would not have been on the cards in even earlier times. During WW2 gays were in German death camps for being gay.
I did not realise that was happening as late as the 70s. The movement has certainly made tremendous strides in a short period of time.
Usually it's meant to remind people that times change, and so do our society's norms and collective values.
For example, people talk about how, for example, Winston Churchill was something of a drunkard, but during the 1940s in Britain, people were expected to drink alcohol as part of their social lives (and business lives as well)--refusal to have a drink could be interpreted as being standoffish, or unfriendly, or even as a deliberate slight. If he lived in today's world, Churchill probably would have drunk less alcohol, since it's not as expected, or perhaps I should say almost required.
The TV show Gilligan's Island is another good example. The concept (a microcosm of American society stuck on an island) is still a neat idea, but the specific jokes of the show are often steeped in the casual racism and sexism of 1960s White America: stereotypes about Polynesian Islanders (and the assumption that White Americans would always be feared and respected by them), Japanese people (the recurring Japanese sailor had a thick accent and thicker glasses), and women (whenever Ginger wanted something, she tried to flirt her way to getting it; Mrs. Howell was treated as an ornamental ditz; etc.)
This is not to say that modern television has gotten much better, but the current crop of racism and sexism is less overt.
Winston Churchill used to consume alcohol at breakfast which is not what I would call a social occasion. Sure, social drinking no doubt sent him down that path but, all up, in his later years, he did drink too much.
Lady Asquith told Churchill, "You're drunk!" His answer, "You, my lady are ugly. Tomorrow I'll be sober, you will still be ugly" or words to that effect. The man could think on his feet. He had to, he had a war to run. He was a product of his time.
"We are a product of our time..." means we are influenced in our way of thinking, doing, our values change according to what we become accustomed to hearing and seeing. It's due to our surroundings, new discoveries, technology, global warming, many more. We are like a branch in the wind...we flex with time...those of us who find it unfitting sometimes to change our way of thinking or doing, just have to wait a little longer until we do it...if we resist too much, we will break. It's evolution. That is why, it is said, we are a product of our time. Each era of time and history had it's own way of living and doing things, and their beliefs as to what is right or wrong. That's all I will say for now, or I will have to make a hub on it.
Lupine, you have requested comments on your writing style; I personally feel something very fresh and cool ( as in the temperature, and as a positive comment) in your writing. Just keep it up, and remember even a bent branch can be beautiful.
Thanks for your comments, and your following...look forward to learning your writing style.
We are a product of society. Our norms (what is and what is not acceptable) dictate our values and beliefs. Society, however, is molded by external events. For example, the Sixities were shaped by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the assisnation of JFK, etc...All of these events had a direct effect on changing social norms of that time. Are we seeing the same thing today? Possibly, but it all depends on if and how the changes affect future generations.
I take it as meaning we are heavily influenced by current mores and morays of the time in which we live but, unfortunately, we are also heavily influenced by what's "trendy." I personally believe there should be some absolutes with respect to important values.
Careful when it comes to absolutes. Hell is said to be paved with good intentions. I've seen this hell in action with political correctness.
That's 'The road to Hell is paved...' etc., Rod. You're right, though. You can't ram your personal morals down the throats of others. It can get messy!
It can get very messy. You create rules and regulations then it is up to others to interprete those rules. Prohibition in the USA for example got very messy.
It means there are certain standards during certain points in time that the people of that time are held to and are impacted by. If you want to understand why people acted the way they did in a certain time period, you have to look at the context of the time in which they lived.
The morality of people changes depending on what time period they lived in. For example, prior to the Black Death infiltrating Europe, people's lives were absolutely bound by the Catholic Church. They relied on the Church for everything. But after the plague swept through and it became clear the Church had no power to stop it, people lost faith and began to become more secular than they had been (though still not incredibly secular). The Renaissance also helped to pull people away from the Church. Prior to the 1500/1600s, most artwork was solely commissioned by royalty or the Church and it always dealt with religious or royal figures. But during the Renaissance, you had painters and sculptors created art of everyday things - a very secular and new notion. Intermarriage within royal families was commonplace a while ago too, while today it isn't something people really look at favorably - because now we know what that does as far as genetics are concerned.
Racism is another thing you have to look at through the context of time. Slavery was so deeply ingrained throughout the bulk of early American history that by the 1800s, people just didn't understand what was wrong about it. The South's entire economy rested on the shoulders of slaves and they couldn't fathom how they would be able to continue without it. The notion that slaves were people was something that many people just couldn't grasp because they were so solidly a product of their environment and their time.
Being a "product of your time" or your upbringing or anything like that isn't an excuse for behavior, but it's a reason for people's behavior.
It means that we are personally influenced by our environment and surroundings as we are growing into adult members of society. Perhaps the people of today do not have the belief that physical labor is rewardings...that stems from what we have learned and experienced...thus we are a product of our times, a time in which not all people engage in physical labor as they might have two decades before when it was a necessity of subsistence for most folks in rural America. Our attitudes toward work, conservatism, liberalism, socialism and communism are all reflected by our exposure and experience growing up. You will find the young folks of today have little or no fear or awareness of socialism or communism....they are a product of their times. ~WB
I don't know where Jeff gets this business of Churchill being a drunkard. Most men of his class and generation drank prodigiously, Edward VII included. They could drink their European compatriots under the table, aside perhaps from some of their Russian cousins. Edward over-ate, too, and his appetite didn't just cover rich food.
By the same token working men in this country drank heavily - aside from those enrolled in the Temperance Societies and fringe Evangelical movements (like the Methodists).
Working men in this country drink heavily now, too - aside from fringe Evangelical movements - and get themselves a bad name abroad where booze is cheap (but then that's put down to the high taxes we pay on booze here).
It's our attitudes that mark us out as being different to previous generations. Forget this business about Brits being 'reserved'. That's bulls**t! Get amongst us, open yer peepers and keep yer ears flappin'! The ones you're thinking of are the so-called 'Upper Crust' or Hooray Henries, and they let their hair down in grand fashion when they see fit.
Our grandfathers weren't all awkward with the women, either, or else Churchill would've had an uphill struggle to recruit in 1940. Just as in America and elsewhere, it wasn't unknown for a couple to have their kids in double figures. Now, with better healthcare, living longer, families have shrunk in size.
THAT's made us the product of our time!
We are definitely born into a particular age with its pluses and minuses. Television was fairly new in Australia when I was born. I remember it being in black and white. The television set was a box. Now it is a screen. Who knows what it will be in the not too distant future. Before all this there was radio which connected Australia with the rest of the world via sound. All of this took off in the 20th Century and has become more and more sophisticated till you get to today. You can't tell me that all of this doesn't change lives and how we view our world.
Before the 20th Century ships brought news from overseas. Australians found out that the war between the American states had concluded months after the fact via ships bringing the news. Today big announcements from elsewhere in the world are delivered to us that very day.
Computers the like of which I am using right now were once a thing of fiction. You wanted to type up a story you did it on a typewriter. In fact I had a typewriter when I was young. Books when they first came out changed the world. Now I-Pads are set to do something similar.
The upshot is that we know the world and its people better than past generations or, at least, we have the means to do so.
In recent times we have squandered some of this good fortune of knowing the world and our place in it on the creation of 'reality' shows and other useless fluff.
While banks were going under and insurance companies that should have done something also went under people ignored reality and instead concentrated on these dumb 'reality' shows. Hence new ways of sticking your head in the sand and then wondering why things have gone bad had been invented.
Stock market bubbles and having them burst goes back to at least 17th Century Europe. Having such bubbles bursting affecting the whole world goes back only as far as the 20th Century. Are such things still relevant? You bet. When such a bubble bursts in the USA, as in recent times, it has a more immediate affect on other countries than, say, the bubble that burst in the USA in 1929.
There was a time when slavery was the norm. People who fought against slavery were considered to be fanatics. It was just part of big business. Nowadays slavery is not the norm. People who fight against it are considered to be doing the right thing. It is no longer part of big business. Hence a change in the way we see the world. A very good change if you ask me.
We used to have a wireless (radio) programme called 'The Flying Doctor' in the fifties, giving us Brits a look-in on a small slice of Outback life in Oz. A benighted uncle of mine (ex-Navy) told me there was no such thing as two-way radio.
Well there was two way radio. Education in the outback worked that way and so did the Flying Doctors. Two-way radio wasn't in every home though there were ham radio operators around.
we are what we are expose to. What we learn while growing up. But society is just one factor
Saying "I am the product of my time" is an abdication of personal responsibility for learning, growth, ethics and behavior. Should anyone tell you that, walk away as quickly as you can. You are in the company of a sociopath.
We are reflective of what is happening around us. We do and act accordingly based on what what were are experiencing. Think about what we write now. We can write about what we know today. Tomorrow may be different. Gosh things change so fast today. I read in today's news, technology has eliminated jobs that existed several years ago.
Will Hubber's be around in 5 years, if computers are programmed to think, anticipate, be emotional, creative, "There may be no need for people because computers can compile what we do now." I think it is a little scary.
The meaning is clear. We are a product of the time in which we are living--all the the things that happen in our homes, cities, state, nation and world all combine to make us the person we are today. Naturally, physically and perhaps mentally and emotionally we are a product of our parents, but the things that surround us daily and how we react to those facts will help to define who we are. Thus, since in our lives we will go through many different time periods, we will undergo changes. I was a child during the idealistoc 50s. I was in high school in the 60s and college in the early 70s. Today as a member of the senior generation I am living at a time of confusion, doubt and concern. I though all was good as a child. In high school, I was concerned. In college I faced the draft and today, my focus is on Social Security and Medicare. As the song says, "The times, they are a changing," As the times change, so do we.
Remember the end of 'The Life of Brian'? 'Always look on the bright side of life, da-da da-da...' Eric Idle's finishing song at the end of 'The Meaning of Life' was more succinct (good word that, 'succinct', eh?) Buy the dvd, Larry, have a ball!
I would say it is acculturation, blending in to what is going on around you.
Thank you for responding. What affect behavior of people then, can we say it is more of economic condition? It could be a combination of political, social circumstances or belief system? What about the psyche of that person?
We don't live by our own rules, We can't even cling entirely to our own personal values for life, values we learned at home, no matter how good they seem to us. We have a society composed of intricate structures that influence the way we live. Our values, for example, become relative according to the needs of the times. What might seem to be good in the past, may not cater to the needs of the present, hence we make necessary adjustments according to the dictates of society. Peaceful people don't want chaos to reign. There is a need for us though to be intelligently aware of what's going on around us and act, behave accordingly. We don't cross the line, we toe the line but with utmost care for balance. It may not be easy, but it's worth a try. This is just my personal opinion. This argument alone leads me to the point to believe that we are the product of our time. I definitely agree with all the answers offered here.
I think it is everything about us. Our manner of speech and communication changes with time. Shakespeare certainly never would have used LOL or THX.
We also seem to follow a different set of morals. Things that were considered wrong just a few decades ago are OK now. We also dress and use transportation according to the time we live in. The list could go on and on!
When someone asks this question there are a few explanations as to what they actually wish to discover: 1) they may just be interested in determining whether or not you will take the bait and enter into this philosophical Catch-22 with them-- indicating that they want to either engage you in argument for sport or for some other reason, 2) they may be asking the question because they truly have little knowledge of history and therefore are truly unaware that most of what we face to day is not absolutely unique in the history or existence of man, or ever somewhat unique. I say this not as a criticism of their education--as it is the case that most people never fully grasp that "Past is Prologue," finally 3) I would agree with many other commentators on this topic, although I believe it is the least likely answer, persons ask the question because they believe someone else can answer it for them, unfortunately, this is one of those few questions one must muddle (or muggle) through on one's own. ~~your Accidental Friend~~
Or, they could be writing a term paper for a class and need us to give our opinions as part of their research.
Oh Lupine, While I see your point, I hope and pray that both you and your parents, if they are financially involved, see how terribly awful this would be!
We are the consequence of past decisions moulding the future in the present by influencing current situations.
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