The 21st century has brought some massive changes to virtually every aspect of the way in which we live our lives. For those of us who can remember what life was like in the 20th century, it can be hard to recall how we managed with just a fraction of the technology available that we have now.
Let’s explore some of the ways in which leisure time has changed and how we decide what to do, and how we do it, when our free time comes around.
We can watch and play on the go
If you were planning to watch an event in the 20th century, you needed to make sure you were there in person or had booked the time out in your diary to watch on television. In 1969, 18% of the global population all took the exact same time out to sit in front of their television sets and watch the first man land on the moon – an incredible moment in the history of humankind.
Now, how many of those people today would be watching a stream to their device rather than sitting in front of a television set? We can even watch famous events from history, such as the incredible live performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall which was watched in 1990 by one billion people.
The same applies to playing games such as online slots. Slot games were around in the 1900s, but only in specific locations, and you’d have to go to a casino or bar to play them (that’s if they were allowed in that region). Now, it’s easy to log in and play slot games wherever you are.
We connect over the internet
Though the internet was part of a lot of people’s lives in the 20th century, in the year 2000, around half of the US population had access to the internet, with similar figures in the UK and some other parts of the world.
When Harry and Meghan Markle got married, it was one of the most widely-watched events in history, and this is partially due to the fact that it was streamed to devices over Facebook and YouTube by the royals so you could watch it in real time over the internet.
We couldn’t have imagined then just how widespread internet connectivity would be by the time we reached the modern age, and that almost everyone would carry a device in their pockets that could see them connect to the internet in a matter of seconds, Almost anywhere, at any time, you can check in with friends, watch films or whatever else you want on YouTube or other platforms, and have immediate access to a world of entertainment and information.
We don’t have to plan so far in advance
There are people who say that devices and the constant connection to the internet means that we don’t connect with people in person, but the opposite can sometimes be true.
For example, it can be much easier to make arrangements, such as last-minute plans to see your friends. In the days before easily being able to text or even call your friends, plans would need to be pretty much set in stone. When people got together to watch the moon landing in 1969. they will have had to plan this well in advance.
Now, if you have a spare hour, it is much easier to message friends who might be nearby and see if they want to grab a coffee.
The same applies for things like taking trips – you can book a hotel, a flight, a hire car or an Airbnb with ease and always ensure you know the route, all thanks to the little devices we carry around with us at most times.
Almost everyone is a gamer (really)
We’ve already briefly mentioned games such as online slot games, but you might dismiss gaming as something that the younger generations do. Actually, a huge percentage of the population play games. For instance, do you go on your phone and play Wordle every day? I’ve got news for you – you’re a gamer.
Online games are incredibly varied, from online slots and huge multiplayer games to simple word and puzzle games. There are even crazy games out there like Lawn Mower Simulator games, which are strangely addictive.
Devices are part of the conversation
Again, this is something that can really divide opinion. A lot of people don’t like devices on the table while they have a conversation, and feel like it can detract from the conversation they’re having with others. However, there is no denying the fact that your phone can play a big part in the conversation itself.
You may use it to show your friends a video you’ve seen, or to look up something that is a contentious area of debate around the table. When the inauguration of Barack Obama was watched by one billion viewers, many of these were inevitably watching together on their devices and chatting about it at the same time.
Nobody likes it when everyone around the table loses themselves in their devices, but they can still be useful, and sometimes they’re just a necessary evil we need to have on hand if we get a message or call from family, the workplace or friends.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”