Shooting the city. New York 1920s pic.twitter.com/jCUvHgJ3SQ
— History Lovers Club (@historylvrsclub) April 15, 2020
With so much notoriety to the 1920s, coined “The Roaring Twenties” for their exuberance and economic prosperity, it was not out of bounds, a couple of years ago, to imagine our contemporaries going through a similar trajectory.
But those visions were all for naught. They were but a mirage in the distant sweeping sands of optimism. We are not “roaring” by any means right now; we are hardly even “chirping.” Times are grim, and optimism feels misplaced.
But when analyzing the period of the 1920s and the decades that followed, we get a better understanding of the cultural, societal, and political circumstances that affected the economy and earned the age the moniker of the “Roaring Twenties.”
The benefit of studying history in addition to learning our mistakes and how to improve upon them is using history to help us predict what will happen in the future. Something our current president should consider. * cough, cough*
It may seem like we are in the “Snoring Twenties” now, and for all intensive purposes we are. But only time will tell if this will continue into the decade.
It is always darkest before the dawn…
For the first time in American history, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. This rise in urbanization meant ideas were exchanged far more widely and rapidly than before. Consumer culture blossomed, and the spike in the economy meant, for many people, life was grander than it had ever been.
Also, the world was at peace after World War I. Men returned home and finally started to get their feet back under them. Women, who had been holding down the ship while the men were away, experienced a slight degree of increased power, if only in the Women’s Suffrage movement.
Let’s keep pushing for women
In 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified and women were granted the right to vote… Finally.
Bubbling with ambition and heart they would have enough courage to change the world. They would and they still are.
But back then all the eyes were on the flappers, or bold young women. They were independent women, and they advocated for more. Rights, political involvement, social acceptance, and economic equality.
Flappers were bad ass. Against the, “what would be considered normal,” etiquette standards for a lady; they drank when they wanted, smoked in public, danced at jazz clubs and pushed sexual freedom. Their angst and longing for respect would shock and appall the older generation. But it didn’t matter because change is always imminent.
Notice a similarity.
Today, the empowering movement, that is everything we want a woman to be, has made massive strides in its efforts to ensure equality. Still, there is a lot more that needs to be done; equal pay, societal stigmas, the list goes on.
Still, Flappers from the last century would be proud.
Keep ya head up kid
Today, in 2020, we are not on the heels of a massive global conflict, but just beginning one. COVID-19 is ravaging even the most developed countries in the world, and there is no end in sight.
But does this mean the entire decade is going to be a pit of financial hardship, economic ruin, and despair? Not necessarily.
In 1929, the stock market crashed, essentially ending a decade-long run of affluence and steady economic increase. As the 30s raged on, the Dust Bowl decimated the ecology of prairies across America, and the Great Depression was in full effect.
On a macro scale, it wasn’t until the end of World War II that the economy recovered, once again showing the economic effects of war.
So how does that translate to us?
We are in the midst of global conflict, though we’re not fighting each other (fingers crossed). We are fighting an invisible enemy, one that does not announce its presence and uses one human just to get to the next.
This leads to even greater confusion and the inability for prediction than under a world war, because viruses can mutate and still linger even when the populous thinks it is eradicated. But once it is, and that day will come, we can be optimistic about the tide turning around.
There is hope, fam
The “Roaring Twenties” were largely roaring because of WWI. The baby booming 50s were largely boomin’ because they were directly after WWII.
There is hope and solace in knowing that our country has gotten through difficult periods before. There is salvation for us, even if right now it feels like a fantasy story we read our children at night.
Right now we are struggling. We are reeling. We are snoring. But times change, and often the lowest dips are, shortly after, followed by the highest hills.
Believe that our roaring twenties of this century are still on the horizon.