What would need to happen for the population of the United States in 2017 to eventually devolve back to dressing, talking, and overall perfectly mimicking the people and culture of 1950s United States. This includes new technologies fashioned in the style of 1950s items such as smartphones looking like vintage telephones and flat-screens that are beveled in wood and use knobs to control etc.


closed as primarily opinion-based by James, Vincent, Zxyrra, Mołot, Aify Jan 31 '17 at 17:13

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    $\begingroup$ Weird Hipsters! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jan 30 '17 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Really not an answer, but have a look at a series called Black Mirror, there's an episode called 'San Junipero' which might give you ideas for something almost as what you're looking for :) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Jan 30 '17 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ Short of handwaving or some kind of time distortion, as others pointed out, to have a culture devolve back would be next to impossible to directly replicate. Even if someone were to come in and put heavy laws to make everything 1950s, the language, the culture, the influence would just not be there. If you are looking to create some kind of world where the US would devolve, there would have to be some serious handwaving. You would be better off having some kind of science accident that distorted the space-time continuum. $\endgroup$ – ggiaquin16 Jan 30 '17 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ Do you just want them to like the idea of a 50s-look (i.e 50s fashion) or do you actually want the culture of segregated schools for whites and blacks, accepted homophobia and anti-communist propaganda? Some good stuff too...but just wondering where you want to draw your line. You are talking of devolving culture but where you draw your line depends on whether it is, really, a devolution or just a stylistic choice. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Jan 30 '17 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ you may want to use revert rather than devolve ... there isn't a universal definition of social progress or evolution. The people of the next centaury might looks back and say that the 50's were further along that we are for all we know. Science does have a universal definition of progress (the set of theories that best explain the most phenomena) but culture doesn't. We tend to just say that cultures most similar to our own are the most advanced. $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Jan 30 '17 at 22:52

Typically this doesn't happen. Cultures move forward, not backwards. At any stage, the culture is typically an energetic minimum for the times. Its what we do when we're not expending energy pretending to be a different culture. To have the same set of traits be minimums for two times 65 years apart would be pretty extraordinary.

What could happen to cause this is a powerful dictator. If you had a powerful dictator who was not concerned with the cost of his or her ideas, they could oppose all non-1950s style so violently that the lowest-energy-cost approach would indeed be to revert back to the '50s.

I'd say the hardest part of the story would have to be communication. Much of culture is centered around how people communicate. Modern technology like social media would simply not fit at all with the culture of a previous era. You may have nice bezeled wood screens to look like the '50s, but the culture of the '50s was not designed around anyone being able to pick up the keyboard and Tweet around the world.

  • $\begingroup$ Cultures don't move "forward" (if you can even define forward), they go in cycles. Or as someone said, history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot :-) So fashions tend to come and go: crew cuts were the thing in the '50s, then long hair was in, nowadays short hair seems to be back. Cars once were big, boxy, and had running boards, then longer, lower, and wider was the style, now it's back to big & boxy. It'd be really unlikely to get everything '50s-style, but it'd just takes some fashion trendsetting. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 31 '17 at 4:44

A serious, concentrated effort by everyone to do so. Everyone, or nearly everyone, would have to actively want less fuel efficient cars, no Internet, poodle skirts, Jim Crow laws, really nasty chemicals freely in use in the environment, even worse inequality of women, gays and lesbians blackmailed and beaten regularly, and generally give up all of the massive improvements of the USA has gained in the last 60+ years. There are many who work to do exactly that today, who want to make America great again, but, luckily, they don't seem to be the majority.

Without everyone working for it, trying to get things back to the 1950s is going to be really very hard, regardless of the kind of apocalypse you have. Now, if you kill off enough people, you might reduce America down to a small enough population that they all do want to do this. In that sense, pretty much any apocalypse will do, provided it is sufficiently targeted (deliberately or on accident) to leave a select subset of the populace still alive -- generally the mid-to-upper class white males who would have it best in that time frame.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm... part of what you describe seems to come back into fashion. Particularly the way "minorities" are treated. Let's see how the other aspects fare. $\endgroup$ – Burki Jan 31 '17 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ Even if aspects come back around, you don't get the whole society aligned on those aspects. History is full of echoes, but rarely do we see repeats. ;-) @Burki $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 31 '17 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ I must admit i'd be happier if we could do without some of the uglier echoes, too. BTW i do agree with you. And i must admit i think i am abusing the comments right now, so i guess i'd better stop :-) $\endgroup$ – Burki Feb 1 '17 at 7:40

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