My mother will be 95 in September. I look back at the decades of her life and marvel at the technological advances she’s witnessed. Even in my own life, we’ve gone from heavy lacquer phones on party lines, to cellphones that fit in your pocket. Now, you don’t have to be home to get a call, people can reach you where ever you are.
When I was a kid, our facts came from dictionaries and encyclopedias. A computer was the size of a room and only places like NASA had them. The web was something a spider built and they were the only ones who surfed them. Now, all that can be accessed with cellphones. Technology is grand!
Technology is also a pain in the butt. If something goes wrong with a phone or computer, we’re in trouble. Rarely is it ever a do it yourself project. Time to call the technician, then watch the zeroes add to the end of the bill.
I recently had to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. (35 years ago, if I’d said I was getting new Windows, I’d have meant panes of glass – but now, of course, I mean my computer program.) Microsoft said they are no longer supporting Windows XP, so the buggers forced my hand. I was fine for about a week, then I started having on-line issues. I had no choice – time to call the tech.
I finally got my computer in for its upgrade and got it back last Tuesday. I didn’t have time to sit down and learn Windows 7, but I was familiar enough with it to do a few necessary chores. One thing I did was load up IBM Lotus Symphony, my favorite word processing program. I kept getting interrupted, so I ended up, somehow, loading it on my computer in Italian!
Fortunately, the commands are in the same configuration as the English version, so I can find my way around . My husband keeps telling me I should take it off my computer and reload in English, but I haven’t done it yet. Everything I’ve written comes up in English, so it really doesn’t matter. I’ve figured out that Nuovo is new. Salve is save and Stampe means print. Only, the dumb thing won’t print. Not because it’s in Italian, because it keeps sending me to some other program to save or print it. I’m really not sure what’s going on—which means I need to call the tech again. Which means a lengthy phone call, which means it’s probably not going to happen until I complain enough that my husband does it.
From time to time, I look back at simpler times when phones didn’t fit in the pocket, and if someone wanted to talk to you by phone, they called back until they reached you. Letters were written on pieces of paper and sent through the mail. People used typewriters to write books and erasers to correct their mistakes.
If we got bored, we read books or comics, played board games or went outside and used our imaginations to play Super Heroes. People met up with neighbors for coffee or gathered at a friend’s house to watch TV. We shared coffee and stories about our children. We talked to one another about things that mattered to us. Many a family problem was solved in the neighbor’s kitchen with all the wives giving advice.
We may talk, but often it’s about the latest TV program, not real life. We complain about our children, but don’t look for ways to help them—or get them in line. Families don’t spend the same kind of quality time together, often not even eating dinner at the same time.
A lot of those old fashioned notions are gone. I know, because I did a quick web search on technology’s impact on the modern family. It’s here on my phone. Wherever I am, I can sit down and read all about it.