Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back to the Days of Old


I don’t have to tell you that we live in a technological age.  Things are changing rapidly, almost too rapidly for me.  Sometimes I feel as if my head is spinning out of control.  The more things go digital, the more I turn back to the good old days.

Lately I am finding comfort and relaxation in the simpler things in life; not just taking the time to smell the roses, if you will, but also to live in a simpler time, if only for 30 or 60 minutes.

I love my DVR.  It allows me to record shows that I would otherwise be unable to catch due to work and other activities.  The ironic thing is that I tend to record shows that illustrate a more relaxed way of life.  For instance, right now my DVR only contains episodes of “The Golden Girls,” “The Waltons,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”  (I do record current shows, but as the season is coming to a close, most of what I have right now are these.)  These shows have special meaning to me—it’s not just that I’m a huge dork who lives in the past.  Not only are these shows that I watched when I was young, but I also watched them with my family.  So in addition to them being entertaining (for me), they are a part of my family history.

It’s nice every once in a while to unplug from the demands of my day and go back in time, to the 80s, the 70s, even the 30s.  Watching episodes of “The Waltons” illustrating life during the Great Depression puts some things into perspective.  Maybe that iPhone isn’t as important as I think it is (though who am I kidding—one day, I won’t be able to not get a smart phone).  In addition to the times being simpler (at least from my perspective), the show illustrates family and personal morals and values, something that is rare these days.  It’s just nice to know that at some point in time, a handshake a verbal promise was enough to seal a business deal.  Honesty and trust were things that meant something, meant everything.  I’m not saying that you won’t find those things today, but it’s not that common.  While you can trust some people, you also have to be wary of who those people are.  It’s just a very different world.

I experienced a situation recently that just boggles my mind.  Somehow the topic of the radio came up.  Someone I know was under the impression that people don’t listen to FM radio anymore.  He was flabbergasted when I said that I do, every day.  I have a radio in my bedroom and anytime I’m in there, it’s on.  In the morning I listen to NPR to get my news.  During the day it’s tuned to my local country station or the popular station.  At night, it’s back to NPR for the classical music as a way to wind down for my night.  Any way you slice it, it’s on.  And I like it.  Yes, I have an iPod.  Yes, I use it frequently.  But I’m not all about leaving everything prior to the current technology behind.  I don’t need Pandora to tell me what it thinks I like.  Sometimes I like to leave it up to the radio DJ.  I can experience music I might not have otherwise.  Just because I’m not plugged in to something digital all day doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.  But like life, it’s all about balance.  What I don’t understand is why it’s appalling that I still engage in the “old ways” of listening to “FDR’s Fireside Chats,” as it was put to me.  And even if I did, does that make me less of a person?  No.  But I guess to some, it does.  But again, why, I’m not so sure.  Just because I don’t share the same experiences as someone else who’s fully up on the new technology, who lives and breathes it doesn’t mean they’re right and I’m wrong (or vice versa).  It’s just different.  In my opinion, people who can embrace more than one way of doing things is a more well-rounded individual (not better, just more well-rounded).

This all goes back to the old paper versus technology debate that keeps coming up.  Yes, we can embrace technology.  We can even use it.  But just because we choose to use the “old fashioned” form of physically writing things down on paper rather than tapping them out on a keyboard doesn’t mean we’re dusty mites.  It just means we prefer a different way of doing things. 

Lately I feel as though I’m being criticized for who I am and how I do things.  I never do that to others, so why people feel it’s okay to do that to me, well, I just can’t comprehend it.  Sometimes I would like to jump into that TV and be a child of the Depression, making do with the little I have; live the life of avocado green and shag rugs and rotary phones of the 70s; or be a should pad-wearing, cranky old bitty in the late 80s.  Obviously each of these time periods have their own issues.  But I wouldn’t feel like an underprivileged soul just because I don’t own a smart phone.  And really, is one necessary to live life to the fullest?  I say no, but again, I’m in the minority here, so maybe I am just plain wrong.

I guess I should be grateful though—it is technology after all that allows me to retreat to the days of old.  Maybe when I’m 90 (if I’m lucky to live that long), machines will think for us and be able to read my mind.  The question is, what will that machine read exactly—my own personal individual thoughts, or those that have been thought for me?

8 comments:

  1. I believe that our modern culture has lost touch with the past. We are forgetting how things used to be done and forgetting how to stop and appreciate the world around us. As an artisan, the methods and most of the tools that I use have not changed in hundreds of years. Many fellow artisans seek out antique tools to add to their studios to be able to reclaim older methods of doing things. When I go to sell my work, I'm outside in places that often have no cell access and sometimes no electricity. It is like stepping back in time...and I love it.

    You do not need technology to live. Yes, it enhances things and I do not believe that it should be pushed aside completely, but I also have respect for how things were done before. Sometimes the old way is the better way.

    Now, trying to convince the 20 somethings of the world this "wisdom" is difficult. The more of us that speak up about it as you have, the better it will be for us all.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Wendy. I agree with what you have said too. It's true that the people who are growing up with technology are at a loss - they don't know how to function without it. Moreover, they probably don't think they can. I'm glad I'm not alone in my opinion!

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    2. As a 25yr old I can assure you: you're not alone, and it is not strictly generational. I look back on historical documentaries and TV programs with wide-eyed wonder...and so desperately wish I could have been born a few eras earlier. Yes there was hardship beyond my comprehension, but there was honesty behind it all, and I crave that from life. The least I can do is, like you, try to incorporate those values into my life.

      As a comment on tech/paper debate, an incident last week amused/terrified me and made me think of this rapidly widening distance between the present and past: my cursive handwriting is being critisiced by modern youngsters. I'm a postgrad student in the medical industry, where child-like handwriting is admittedly preferred due to the ease with which it can be read...OK that's fine. But having peers (and a tutor) tell me that my handwriting is "too curvy"...? Is it suddenly wrong to write in the cursive flow because all that people read today is on-screen or typed? I'll proudly resist writing like Ariel font until the day they replace me with a robot

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    3. Being 34, I didn't grow up using computers but I have to know how to use them in order to survive in the working world. I taught myself everything I need to know. Yet people who are only a few years younger than me (generally speaking, as it isn't true of everyone of course) seem to be so addicted to technology and can't comprehend people who aren't. I'm glad to see that it isn't completely a generational thing -- I don't feel so old now! ;)

      Interesting that your "cursive" writing is being criticized as "too curvy." Don't they know that it's the meaning of cursive? I guess you're right though - people are too used to font and not actual handwriting.

      Thanks for your comment!

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  2. And I agree with all you say - having just gone through almost 8 hours of a tech trying to upgrade my computers to the Icloud plus put in a new modem and router - and he still has to come back because the router wa defective- pen and paper is so much more reliable - and the old movies, TV shows and the radio shows of old cannot be beat.

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    1. Thank you! The more technology that becomes available, it seems to make life more complicated, not easier. Of course, this isn't always the case, but generally speaking. I agree too with the TV and radio - what's on these days is nothing compared to what was available years ago.

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  3. I remember the time before DVR's, VCR's when we only had 2 channels on TV... I'm an old person I realise this!

    I can remember seeing Hard Day's Night - The Beatles at the cinema when it was first released!

    Life was simple...

    Steve

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    1. I remember getting out first VCR - that was a big deal. The Beatles, I can't say I saw that movie in the cinema. ;)

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