Older TikTokers Are Comparing The Pandemic To Other Historic Times They've Lived Through And It's Strangely Comforting
"The pandemic may be scarier, but at least we have a little bit of power over it."
It's pretty clear that the world we live in right now is full of uncertainty and anxiety, but it's not the first time society has been through an especially challenging time...
That's why Cleo Abram wanted to turn to the older generation of TikTokers to ask if they had ever been through a similarly uncertain time, like the Cold War or World War II, and find out how it affected their lives:
Here's what TikTok users, who were mostly above the age of 50, had to say about the difficult times they overcame in the past and how those times compare with what we are living through right now:
1. "1968. There was civil unrest all the time. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, riots in the streets of Washington, DC, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed, more violence. A few weeks later — the Democratic National Convention, nothing but riots and violence. And the Vietnam War still raging! '68 was not a good year, but by '69 we had man landing on the moon and Woodstock and things started to get better. We got through that. It was rough. We'll get through this. It's rough, but we will survive, we will thrive. Hang in there."
2. "I'm 58 and have not experienced anything like this in my life, but I was a student of history and know the struggles of the 1918 epidemic. Going through the Great Depression was what my mom experienced directly, and seeing the utter devastation of World War II. Knowing that they were able to rebuild brings comfort."
3. "The HIV/AIDS crisis. I was a child when it broke and it scarred me for life. The adverts were horrific. Nobody knew what caused it when it first happened. People thought you could contract it from sitting on a toilet seat or sharing a cup and predominantly from gay people because it was hitting that community the hardest. It was horrific...but we got through it because we followed the science."
—@newforestsara, who also recommended that her followers watch It's a Sin:
4. "A time in my life when I was really afraid was when President John F. Kennedy was shot. I will never forget that day. I was in geometry class when we got the announcement over the loudspeaker, and we were devastated. We didn't think our country would ever heal or survive from that horrific event because we all loved President Kennedy."
5. "I work with seniors ranging in age from their late seventies to nineties. The ones that I've spoken with about this, not a single one says this is something they've experienced in their life. This is something new for them, too, and it's hard because they're at the end of their lives. There's not much more they're able to do even on a normal day. And now they're isolated from their families and it's hard on them, even more than it is on us."
6. "When I was a kid, we lived in the DC area and my dad worked there. He was also in the Navy. I can remember those years during the Cold War when he would come home and there would be such an air of seriousness and uncertainty. Uncertainty causes a lot of stress and anxiety, and we knew things could change at any second. After the Cuban missile crisis, we had the arms race, and that was the only time I can remember this degree of uncertainty. Other than that, I don't remember another time with this level of stress."
7. "I'm closer to 50, and there's one thing with my generation that really stood out, which was HIV and AIDS. We didn't even know what to call it or how it was being transmitted. People were afraid to shake hands, sit on toilet seats. It was really scary times."
—@joyofacupuncture, who recommended that her followers watch Philadelphia:
8. "Most of my growing up was done in the heart of the Cold War. It wasn't like COVID, where it's hopefully a one- or two-year thing and then, with the vaccine, it will go away. It was just this permeating existential dread that any second, one side was going to get mad at the other. It was sold that way, in movies and when politicians talked. It was always like, any second, somebody was going to push the button and that was going to be the end. You lived your life kind of expecting that. That feeling of inevitability and dread stuck with you all the time. When it ended and you realized how far away from it we really were, it felt like a betrayal. It never was that close."
9. "I'm 65 years old. I've lived through a lot of things in my life, but I don't think anybody in my generation has really lived through what we're going through right now with the pandemic and the Trump presidency. Although the closest thing, in terms of impact, causing great concern was 9/11. We didn't know if there were going to be any more attacks. Really a scary time."
10. "From '77 to '79, we had the worst drought in California and also had people shooting each other over gas. There were the hostages in Iran. In first grade, I learned the destructive power of nuclear weapons. In high school it was HIV, fear of being gay, and just not knowing what the world was going to look like. Then, in '89, the wall came down. Every generation goes through its bad times and we get through it. Having gone through what I did as a young person gives me perspective about what we are going through now. It will get better."
11. "There's a lady I know who is in her early eighties, and she shared about this time that we are living in. She has lived in the time when JFK was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, Korean War, Vietnam War, the Cold War. She said that never has there been a time like what we are living in right now. It's crazy. We are making history right now."
12. "I'm 53, so in the '70s, everyone was worried about the gas crunch and economic failure, but we got through that. In the '80s, we were worried about nuclear war constantly. I was in the Army. I did a border tour, I saw helicopters staring at each other. Horror. That was fine, we got through that. I lived in Japan. I was there in 2011 when the earthquake happened, and I saw the reactor explosion live on television. That was pure terror. But we got through that, too. We'll get through this. Life contains suffering, but life also goes on. Find your friends and you'll get through it."
13. "I'm in my fifties. We are in unprecedented times. We're in a global pandemic. We in the United States have been fed a constant line of disinformation, making us have to figure this out by ourselves. I've never known us to be so divided along so many lines and so aggressively. We just went through an election cycle that ended with an attempted coup on our congressional democracy. I don't know how hopeful this is, but we're in it together, and surely together we can muddle through this."
14. "I was born in 1968, and there was a threat of nuclear war. As a kid, you got to school and were told all about it and went through the drills. We heard all the propaganda. There was a movie they put out that was pretty terrifying called The Day After. It showed what would happen if the bombs went off and murdered everybody. Well, the difference now is that a bomb actually did go off and it's killing people for real, except this time we can actually do something about it by wearing masks and following all the regulations. So this might be scarier, but at least we have a little bit of power over it."
Have you lived through an uncertain time besides the pandemic? How did you cope? Share in the comments below!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.