i recently came across THIS article about the recent, and future, advance in technology. just in case you dont follow the link read the piece for yourself (which i strongly encourage you to do) the basic premise is this: kids born in 2011 will have no idea what travel agents, video tapes (VHS), separation of work and home, books, magazines, newspapers, movie rental stores, watches, paper maps, wired phones, CD's, hand written letters, the yellow/white pages, long distance, dial up Internet, encyclopedias and so forth...
the list goes on and on mentioning quite a few things that i grew up using, things i still use today and a few things that i have not used in years. but the more i read, the sadder i felt. there is something nostalgic- romantic- about things of the past. to think that there is a chance eleri would not feel the excitement of receiving a letter in the post or experience the boring, mundane task of flipping through an encyclopedia for research. while the chances are strong that hand written letters will never truly 'go out of style' it is a real possibility that e will never use an encyclopedia. does this make anyone else sad? just me?
i remember the giant set of Encyclopedia Britannica that my parents had in our living room. I had to do a science project when i was a sophomore in high school and i used quite a few of those books for my research. that was in 1997. to me it doesn't seem that long ago but let me put it in a bit of perspective. when i was writing that science report, google did not exist! yeah, now it seems like a loooong time ago. how many times a day do we use google? apparently enough that 'googling' is a verb which is now common vernacular.
because i am a bit of a nerd e WILL know what an 8 track tape player is because i have one that still works. and a record player as well. and while i am discussing old technology that i still use, my dvd player is a dvd AND vhs tape player combo. yes, i still watch VHS tapes. i watched one about two weeks ago. perhaps that is what is really sad....
and what about the movie store? i dont remember the last time i went to a blockbuster. but when i was growing up we had family movie night. we would all go to the local blockbuster and pick out a movie to watch. i used to love walking up and down the isle, checking out everything that was there. the giant wall of 'new releases' was always the busiest. e will probably never step foot in a blockbuster, or the like. it is cheaper to buy a dvd at walmart than it used to be to rent a movie. i can understand why they are going out of business. but it is still a little disappointing.
it also makes me sad that people estimate 'words written on paper' will not longer exist in the near future. i love books. i love newspapers. i used to read the newspaper every single day when i was commuting to work. and on average i buy at least one book a week. i love to read. i love holding a book in my hands, turning the pages, highlighting quotes, making pages. you cant do that with a kindle, or iPad, or whatever the next bit of electronic reading they will come out with. and what about newspapers? the thought of those going by the waste side makes me a little sick. i had dreams of being a journalist when i was younger- working for the New York Times. i am not saying eleri will want to be a writer, but is that even a dream she could have? will newspapers even exist? realistically i think it would take quite a bit to get newspapers out of print. what about the commuters? or will technology advance so much that there will soon be internet access on the tube/subway and people will read the news on their ipad's?
sad. really sad.
whilst we are on the subject of sad, some of 'things' that will disappear are actually quite alarming. the line of home and work is blurred enough as it is. i realise we are not living in a traumatic post- WWII society like the 50's where people were fiercely protective of family and values. but was that so bad? people fight against the 9 to 5, not wanting the typical job. but look at it this way. you went to work. did your job. came home at 5 when the bell rang. and that was that. finished for the day. no emails on the blackberry or text messages to respond to. no 'face time' on the iPhone for a late night meeting. when the working professionals came home, they were home. and to me, that sounds nice. people say they work hard to play hard. but how many working professional do you know that really play hard? and with only 8 to 10 vacation days a year, can you really play hard? seems a bit skewed to me. and with technology increasing, can you imagine what work communication will be like when eleri has her first job?
another point the article highlights is that 'talking to one person at a time' will be a foreign concept to our little ones. how true is that? rhys and i had a discussion about this very point. he said that it was mainly teenagers who texted whilst they were talking to someone else. i agree, it does seem to be the younger population. but those are the people who are growing up to govern the next generation. if they feel it is ok to do that now, and continue to do so as they are older, will that behaviour become the new 'norm'? perhaps.
it is interesting to look back on the past 100 years or so and see what advances have been made. some have been incredible, life saving developments. some have been time saving. but some have been destructive. take a cultural history of the last 100 years and see what values, both family and moral, have slowly faded into the past. now ask yourself how much of that has to do with our advances in modern technology.
I have a risk of sounding hypocritical, as i type on my blog page using my nice laptop, but there is something to be said about the past- about the way things used to be done. i do not want to advocate living in the past. and by no means will i start following an amish lifestyle, turning my back on all technology and begin to commute only by horse and cart. i appreciate technology, but i also want to stay aware that there are some things we still need to hold on to. blockbusters may be going to the waste side, so perhaps family movie night means going to walmart, picking out a movie and buying it instead of renting it. same price, why not eh? i want to teach eleri the value of relationships, of correspondence. so that when she is older, she will appreciate the time it takes to write a letter, so she will not take for granted face to face meetings, so she can be fully present in whatever situations she is in. (not texting away...)
and yes, i will continue to listen to my CD's when i drive the car, but i will also share my love of old music and record players with my kids. my beatle albums need some play too! i am lucky that rhys feels the same way. as he DJ's (occasionally) he has record player turn-tables. (imagine will smith in fresh prince: one hand on the headphone, one hand skipping the record and that is rhys.... ) i like that we will keep little pieces of the past as current in our home. it may be nostalgic, but i hope that i can raise my children to appreciate all aspects of life. past, present and what is yet to come.