Living For a Week in the 1970s

While on my Internet vacation this year, I got to thinking about how it wasn’t all that difficult to be away from email and Facebook and Twitter, and even this blog for a couple of weeks. In the 2 weeks that I was away, I did check email every few days, but found that I really only needed to respond to 1 message–and then only to ensure I received a book I wanted to review in time for my deadline. It led me to wonder what else one could do without. And that’s when I started thinking about the 1970s.

I spent the first 8 years of my life living in the 1970s and have retained an odd fascination with them. Technology-wise, they might as well be light years from where we are today. That is true of the 1960s and 1950s, or any previous decade, I suppose, but the difference for me is that, while I’ve heard and read about the 40s and 50s and 60s, it’s all been second hand. But I saw firsthand what it was like to live in the 1970s, albeit as a young boy, and I think that bolsters my fascination. It got me thinking: how easy (or hard) would it be to simulate a week of living in the 1970s?

Well, let’s see. I’d have to give up my computers, iPhone and iPad. It would make writing a little trickier, but I still do have my grandpa’s old Royal manual typewriter, and it does work. Then too, there’s always pen and–shudder!–paper. Both of our cars are decades removed from the 1970s, but I suppose I could simulate by doing things like not using cruise control, and not using satellite radio,, unless, for the sake of theatrics, I tuned the radio only to the 70s on 7 station. I’d likely have to give up much of watching TV for the week but that’s okay, because I’ve already given up much of watching TV. Cooking wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I don’t remember having a microwave until about 1980 or so, but I can easily live without a microwave for a week.

Drilling down, I begin to find more inconveniences: no online banking. No reading books on my iPad or listening to audio books on my iPhone. Doing work at my day job would be impossible–I’d probably have to make an exception for that. I’d most likely have to pay for everything with cash, and I couldn’t get that cash from an ATM machine. I’d have to go into a bank branch.

I think it would be an interesting little experiment. What other everyday things would I have to change to make such an experiment more realistic? Suggestions in the comments.


  1. The Apple II series came out in 1977, so you could use a computer… at least enough for word processing… basic word processing. It might be hard to find the floppy disks.

    You may be able to dig up a cassette player… books on Cassette.

  2. Do you remember reading of the travails of being a writer as documented by Robert Silverberg in one of his ‘Reflections’ columns in ASIMOV? According to the piece, the drudgery involved in the writing process didn’t improve, at least for Mr Silverberg, until the 1980s.

  3. Don’t forget to grow a beard and let your hair hang down to your shoulders. Bell bottom jeans riding low on your hips, love beads and a fringed vest would round out the look. Ah, the early 70’s — how I loved them. =)

  4. I’LL be 30 next year and for whatever reason I have in my mind i figure that living in the 1970’s would have been a blast the 70’s produced almost all of the biggest automobiles ever on the roads they had awesome looking clothes women knew how to dress like women and some of the best music was written and released all in all i feel likr it would be one hell of an experence to gert to live in the 70s for a week just to see it first hand


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