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Five insults that went out with the eighties

Woman helping soldiers load cannons
A Soldier’s Wife at Fort Niagra (during the War of 1812) by T. Walker

 

Some people will point to “progress” and show how technology (or legislation) has made certain jobs obsolete.

Me, I prefer to have a positive outlook, and see how the number of insults people throw at each other has diminished since the Reagan/Thatcher/Gorbechev era.  So, here’s a list of five insults that were prevalent during the 1980’s, but no longer seem to mean anything.

Keep your day job.
The other day I read the words “choose another profession” on a writing networking group.  In the same context, I think that writer would have once said “Keep your day job.” 
You see, back in the old days – back in the 20th century – the majority those aspiring to work in the creative fields could earn a living through a steady, respectable job (and still have time and energy to pursue their passions on evenings and weekends).
Not only were these “day jobs” so plentiful that one assume that every amateur had one, but the amateur didn’t even have to work late at night to keep a “day job.” “Nine to five” was a synonym for one of these “day jobs”, as the worker could come in at nine a.m. and leave for home at five o’clock in the afternoon.
These day jobs existed because, from the 19th century, labor organisers used to demand “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, 8 hours of what we will.” Although legislation protecting the eight hour day goes back to at least the 1860s, it didn’t become standard until Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.  At one point, even those in show biz got to have a break. 
Well, now these “day jobs” are increasingly seen as a thing of the past.  If someone has a day job, they don’t expect it to last for long.  Last time I read or heard “keep your day job,” it was a comment criticizing a political cartoonist, made around 2004.  Even then, the term was in disuse.
When the insult was in use: from about 1930.  When it became obsolete: about 2009
Here’s a quarter, go call someone who cares
This was a old response to someone who complained. The idea was that the person making the insult didn’t care about the complainer’s problems, and perhaps if the complainer went to a phone booth, they would find sympathy in an ear from another town.
Since 1994, however, I haven’t heard it spoken anywhere.  No, it’s not so much that mobile phones (cell phones) have taken off. It’s not even that phone booths have started to disappear, or that the prices of phone calls have gone up.  Rather, the idea that someone would care if a complainer called them seems to be more of a compliment to the complainer than an insult.
These days, so many people are so far from their loved ones, and so many people are so lonely, the idea that someone in another town would pick up the phone (and actually want to listen to the complainer and his or her problems) is becoming cherished. 
Today, an equivalent insult would be “no one cares.” Even that doesn’t seem to phase many people, as it has become an accepted fact in many places.
When it became obsolete: 1994
You sound like a broken record
Yes, this was still used after Vinhl was overtaken by CDs. 
A record in those days, for those who have forgot, wasn’t something that would get an athlete in the Guinness book. It was a circular thing (not a discus) that turned around and played sound, kind of like the CDs that grampa has.  This, of course, has been made technologically archaic with the invention of a MP3 player.
However, the broken record became fashionable in the 1990s, when techno, rap and other repetitive beats seemed to affect the thought process of the masses.  Now, many people go on quoting their heroes repeatedly instead of formulating their own opinions, and much of the Western world sounds like a broken record.
When it became obsolete: about 1997.
Your momma wears army boots
Back in the 19th century, one of the favorite insults that the British gave to their rivals was that the French women do all their fighting for the French men.  Joan of Arc was considered an embarrassment to French masculinity.
“Primitive” people who had fighting women were also looked down upon, and around 1812 John Crawfurd (of the East India Company) saw women in the military roles of Australasian peoples as evidence of those peoples being overly “warlike” or belligerent. 
There were the occasional fighting women (disguised as men) in the British ranks, both land and sea, but these were downplayed as abnormalities in the British press.  While male foreigners in the service were counted as British, the female recruits always kept their national origin in the eyes of the press. 
The so-called “follies” of French “Amazons” appeared to delight British readers until the Franco Prussian war.  Yet these women inspired the Red Cross, and by World War I, the British and others saw women as important to the war effort.
In the United States, women have been recognized as vital to the war effort since independence, at least as far as the army is concerned.  From Molly Pitcher down to the Doughnut Dollys, the woman’s role in the war effort has been largely recognised with a degree of pride.  Especially in land battles within the continental US, women defended their homeland.
However, even as late as the nineteen eighties and early nineties, any talk of a tough woman in the family was considered an insult. “I see who wears the pants in that family” or “your momma wears army boots” were long considered fighting words. 
All that seemed to change by 2007.  When a British crew was captured by an Iranian ship, there seemed to be no criticism of the British navy for putting the woman in harm’s way.  It seems that most of the Western World has now accepted that women serve in military.
When it became obsolete: Approximately 2001.
You look like someone who uses computers
Even as late as 1998, if one could add one’s age to one’s IQ, and come up with a three digit number (and the correct answer), one would tend to hide it.  The use of computers implied advanced mathematics, or even the ability to think. 
The stereotypical computer user once wore thick glasses, held together by a piece of tape, was a fan of Star Trek, and was too out of shape to participate in sports.  Those who used this insult were often jealous of those who could do long division.  The insulters couldn’t understand Dr. Spock because they were too distracted by his pointy ears, and they were generally not very bright.  
“You look like someone who uses computers” wasn’t an insult that normal people would use. 
Still, if possible, those who could do long division without looking in the back of a textbook would hide their computers from violent apes.  Any use of a keyboard that didn’t make music or shoot aliens was kept secret, a secret only told to those who tell the difference between a radius and a diameter.
Well, today’s breed of computer users wear contacts, and play virtual sports.  Oh, and they don’t tend to be good at math anymore.
(Perhaps, as computers overtake television as the mindless activity of the lazy, the term “computer user” will become an insult once again.  Of course, it will mean something different than it used to, when it finally replaces the more horrible insult “You look like you watch a lot of TV”.)
When it became archaic: between 1994 and 2004.

I think that these, and other, changes in the way we write and speak reflect changes in the way we think.  Whether a positive or negative development, it means that we can consign the 1980s to history.