Life in the Roaring Twenties

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How did the impact of new technology influence the people in the 1920s?

The impact of new technology influenced the people in the 1920s by allowing people to be more connected, increasing the speed of transportation, and providing entertainment.

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In the wake of World War I, technology made life faster and connected more people than ever before. Cars made travel easier, especially over long distances, compared to horses and carts. Cars also had social implications: unmarried couples went on dates in cars and were allowed to roam unsupervised, unlike...

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In the wake of World War I, technology made life faster and connected more people than ever before. Cars made travel easier, especially over long distances, compared to horses and carts. Cars also had social implications: unmarried couples went on dates in cars and were allowed to roam unsupervised, unlike the old days when a chaperone was expected to be present to prevent anything inappropriate from occurring. As a result, cars became associated with freedom and recklessness. Commercial airline travel, which had started in the 1910s, began to become more prominent in the 1920s as well.

Movies and radio also boomed during this decade. From the 1890s onward, people had more leisure time than ever before, and these were two new forms of entertainment that left the world spellbound. Movies, particularly Hollywood films, allowed consumers vicarious escape into glamorous fantasy worlds of romance and adventure. Movie stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, and Clara Bow influenced dress styles and even behavior to a degree during this period. Sound films, though they had been experimented with since the 1890s, would become popular in the late 1920s, replacing silent films entirely by the early 1930s in most countries. Radio allowed people to listen to sporting events, news, popular music, and drama shows without leaving home.

Other technologies of this period include television (though this would not be perfected for consumer use until the late 1940s), antibiotics, and air conditioning (while invented at the turn of the century, it slowly became more common during this decade). Overall, these technologies made life more comfortable and connected people in ways that would have been unthinkable even twenty years before.

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The rise of new technology, including the mass production of the car and radio, had many effects on people. The car made people more mobile and willing to travel and settle in areas far from where they grew up. The car and the extension of mass transit systems such as the subway in cities like Boston and New York resulted in suburbanization, meaning the movement of people and houses to the outskirts of cities and to new towns outside of the city. In general, the car resulted in a more mobile culture and the beginning of fast-food restaurants in which people were able to eat quickly, often without getting out of their cars. The radio made people more aware of the news and more connected to a national culture. In general, the new technology of the 1920s led to a more connected, mobile society.

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The Roaring Twenties were a decade of prosperity in the United States. Technology and innovation were a large part of this prosperity, and impacted the lives of average Americans. 

The rise of technology allowed for increased leisure time and entertainment in many American homes. Expanded access to electricity made labor-saving devices such as refrigerators, irons, vacuum cleaners and washing machines more prevalent. These devices were especially liberating for women. 

Likewise, technology impacted entertainment in the 1920s. People enjoyed the radio and phonographs. The foundations for television were also invented in the 1920s. 

Perhaps most significantly, the automobile (Ford) was more widely used, which changed the way Americans traveled for both leisure and work. 

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The 1920s are seen as the “Roaring ‘20s” or the “Jazz Age.”  The decade has been given these nicknames because it was a time when many Americans started to have more leisure and fun in their lives.  This was due in part to the impact of new technologies.

One way that technology helped was that it made life easier for women.  The 1920s was a time when many new technologies emerged that made housework easier and quicker.  This freed women to do more things for fun. 

A second way that technology impacted the society of the 1920s was by providing opportunities to have fun.  This was the decade in which both the movies and radios became much more widespread than they had been before.  The radio allowed people to be entertained in their own homes without having to entertain themselves.  Movies gave them a new and exciting form of entertainment for more social occasions.  Finally, the boom in auto production also provided more opportunities to have fun.  People could, much more than ever before, go wherever they wanted to engage in recreation. 

These innovations gave people more opportunities for recreation, and the availability of recreation changed society.  For one thing, it gave people the idea that life was supposed to be fun, not just about work and responsibility.  In addition, the new technologies changed ideas about the relations between men and women.  Now, young men and women could go out together, without supervision, to the movies or to wherever they wanted to go in their cars.  This was very different from the old ways in which unmarried men and women had very few opportunities to be alone together.

In these ways, the new technologies changed influenced people in the 1920s.  They influenced people to change the ways in which men and women related to one another and they influenced people to orient their lives around fun and recreation more than they ever had before. 

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