These whippersnappers and their velocipedes!
July 12, 2016 9:34 AM   Subscribe

With all this outrage at Pokemon Go, I was trying to think of examples of past past times (or just new technology) that there was a degree of public outrage that seem a bit silly now. I found a few examples of hula hoops scares ("Chiropractors and osteopaths are noticing more business from the hoopster set"), I know there was a bit of hub-bub about the "new wireless radios", and I remember reading some something about an old thinker complaining about students wasting their time on chess. What are some other examples?
posted by beccaj to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Well until very recently it used to be all about THE TEENS and THEIR PHONES AMIRITE and now my 92 year old grandma shares 43 facebook memes a day about do you remember the good old days when people played outside instead of staring at their tablet all day I do.
posted by phunniemee at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2016 [16 favorites]

Britain's Archery Mandate
The [archery] training requirement was usually combined with prohibitions on other kinds of games and sports so that people would focus on archery instead of, for example, “tennis, football, [quoits], dice” and other “games inappropriate.”
posted by Etrigan at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2016

There was the D&D satanism scare.

And slap bracelets (or rubber bangles, or the like) were apparently going to make us all do the sex.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:40 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

as a child of the 80s, I second D&D. While these were not new things in my day, teenage girls especially were presumed to be wasting their lives on the (wireline) phone, and all of us were letting our brains rot on TV.

What's ironic about those two now is that I can't get my teenagers to answer their cell phone when I'm driving and can't text them, and if there's something particular that we think they'd enjoy on TV or a movie we wanted to watch as a family, we can't keep them looking at the big screen.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:43 AM on July 12, 2016

Somewhat related to the D&D thing -- for some reason Mr. Motion decided to watch the full-length video to Michael Jackson's Thriller this past weekend. This video about dancing zombies bears the following disclaimer:
Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.

-Michael Jackson
Madonna and Prince were going to make us all do the sex once too.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:55 AM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Some people were concerned that steam trains would cause women's uteruses to fly out of their bodies.
posted by neushoorn at 9:55 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Live orchestra musicians were furious, furious at the invention of radio and also the very idea of making recordings, saying it would destroy the musical experience (as well as their livelihoods). Arguably, it did both.
posted by Melismata at 10:09 AM on July 12, 2016

Sometime around 1992-1993, Bart Simpson was briefly a threat to the youth of America, because of some media amplification of the effects of moderately rude T-shirts and prank phone calls.

One sometimes hears allegations of moral society getting the vapors over Elvis Presley's hip-gyrations.

And of course, there's the "violent video games" moral panic which hit the big time around the time of the Columbine HS shooting, but has mostly petered out as the public narrative of the "typical" mass shooter has changed from "picked-upon upper-middle-class loner kid" to what it is today. That, and the fact that video gamers, like some other groups unjustly tarred by accusations following a mass-shooting by a member of that group, eventually showed themselves to be a far more positive force for good, overall.

Overall, "moral panic" might be a good searchphrase.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cassette tapes were going to be the end of the music industry. Then it was mp3s. I don't remember if CD writers were ever implicated.
posted by soelo at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2016

RationalWiki has a great list to start with on Moral Panics.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

When the Sony Walkman came out there was a lot of talk about people shutting off the world around them and what that would surely lead to the downfall of. (answer: society)

Honestly I can hardly remember something that was a fad that didn't have someone somewhere saying how bad it was that The Kids were doing it.
posted by bondcliff at 10:18 AM on July 12, 2016

Sunburnt beat me to the early 1990s Bart Simpson t-shirt moral panic. Wearing a Bart Simpson t-shirt at my high school was punishable by suspension.

The Beatles' haircuts were quite controversial at the time. (John Lennon on being told that some members of the press thought their haircuts were Un-American: "Well, it was very observant of them, because we aren’t American.")
posted by usonian at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I remember my grandma telling me about someone (her? her mother? her grandmother?) who had to hide in the closet when they wanted to read a book.
posted by aniola at 11:59 AM on July 12, 2016

An older relative of a friend told her that having an indoor toilet instead of an outhouse was considered disgusting - why would you have a toilet inside your house?
posted by FencingGal at 12:08 PM on July 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

There's a non-fiction graphic novel all about this called Bad For You. Here's one of the passages relevant to your question. Seems rare when we don't panic and imagine all the terrible implications of The New Thing.
posted by greenland at 1:28 PM on July 12, 2016

Crossword puzzles are my favorite.
A girl asked a busy grocer to name the different brands of flour he kept.

When he had done so, expecting a sale, she said she didn't want to buy any. She just thought one of the names might fit into a cross-word puzzle she was doing.

The cross-word craze has been described as a disease. For which the scientific name might be "cluemonia."

The printing press makes monks lazy and weakens their faith.

Bicycles cause no end of corruption.
posted by Ookseer at 1:28 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sitting in front of the tv would make people go blind.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2016

In the late Victorian period, there was a bit of a moral panic around novels. Not, mind you, specific novels per se but rather the whole idea of reading novels for leisure. Here (pdf) is an article regarding this phenomenon.
posted by mhum at 1:56 PM on July 12, 2016

Pinball and gambling
posted by clorox at 2:23 PM on July 12, 2016

Microwave ovens were going to kill everyone. Computers were amazing but not to be trusted.
posted by mcbeth at 5:30 AM on July 13, 2016

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