If we think that maybe at least some people did have more fun in the 18th century than we're having in the 21st, we naturally wonder why that would be, and maybe even how we can have more fun now. There are several good theories, in my opinion. The Mozarts' fun was generally centered around getting together with their friends and acquaintances to play games, talk or make music, so I
'm considering what is different now that stops us from having that kind of experience.
We've all heard that electronics in general and the Internet, Facebook, etc. are stopping us from having live interactions with our friends. Certainly the Mozart family had no choice but to interact in person or through hand-written letters with their acquaintances. There are many articles and studies about the ways in which people interact with their devices instead of the people that they're with. Recently NPR reported on a study that too much time on Facebook can make us sad. A recent New York Times article looked at how our extreme use of our smart phones is distracting us from the events and people in our lives. My favorite book on the subject is Hamlet's Blackberry, by William Powers. Powers takes a long view of technology, looking all the way back to the ancient Greeks, and suggesting reasons and ways to take control of how and when we switch off and reconnect face to face.
Then there's that three to four hour break after lunch that many residents of Salzburg and Vienna enjoyed in the 1700s. In spite of our many time-saving devices today, we work a lot. I don't know anyone who could take a break like that from work.
Perhaps because 18th century families tended to stay in one area instead of moving away from family and friends, it was just a part of their lives to socialize together. The Mozart family, though, does not fit this description. Leopold Mozart was estranged from his mother and siblings, perhaps because of his choice not to go into the family trade of bookbinding and also because of a dispute over inheritance. His wife, Anna Maria, had lost her family. Her father and sister died when she was still a child, leaving only her mother and herself. The Mozarts also traveled much more than most people at that time. Their large social group was made up of neighbors, fellow musicians, visitors to Salzburg and people they met on their travels.
There are no doubt other reasons as well. So many things back then were different and difficult, but there are some specific aspects that I envy, especially the frequent musical gatherings and that three hours in the afternoon!