Thirty years ago, my dad was my age. He had a British racing green sports car, equipped with a radio, and he’d say “Breaker 19, this is Chrome Bumper”, to find out about potential traffic jams, car enthusiast gatherings, or simply dangers ahead in the road. Now some people would argue that that culture is past, gone and unless you’re a trucker, forgotten. But I don’t agree.
The reason I say that, is because this morning, I finally decided to get Twitter, something that up until now I’ve been reluctant to do. But it’s amazing! On twitter, I can follow a twitter-thing (I haven’t found out yet technically what it’s called), called the M62, where official traffic updates are posted, but then Twitterers all over the M62 have posted their observations, making an open pool of comments and discussion, not dissimilar from the CB Radio scene of the 80’s.
That’s not the only example either. 15 years ago, my Dad got a pocket TV for his birthday. We still have it, and it still works, apart from that in September they’re going to turn off the signal for it. The Pocket Television appears generally to have died. But can I not watch BBC News live over the air, or catch up on the latest TV from the iPlayer of Youtube. Or, because no one ever really watched television on the train anyway, the content of the media is readily available to read also over the air, using a modern smartphone.
And that’s still not all, maps have become Sat-Navs, Books are becoming Kindles, Cameras have become digital, photos are stored on Hard Drives, I see my bills online, our streets are policed by Cameras. Even my dictionary now has the suffix ‘.com’ attached to it. The Oil age in which we live, could be given a sub-category: The electronic age.
Some might argue that it is sad that our fine engineering advances and manual ways of doing things has been eroded away, and this technology does have its vices. For example, my Dad still has his Pocket TV, but the few remaining iPhone First and Second generations are now practically obsolete. Not to mention that both of the above mentioned handsets cost about 3 times the price of the Pocket TV, never mind the price of the iPhone 3gs and the iPhone 4. You could also say that these advances are making us as a people become more lazy and stupid.
To that last point, I can’t really argue. It is, let’s say, a different type of skill following a Tomtom, but it doesn’t do much for your navigation skills. But other than that, in principle we’re still doing the same things as we were doing in 1980. We’re still eating, going to work, watching the news, going on holiday, taking photos and thousands of other day to day tasks. And the technology we have makes is easier. If you are feeling it has taken the joy out of your life, you may find that you are focussing on the wrong things. Perhaps you have bought the technology, expecting the technology to become your hobby, when really it should only be a means to an end, this end being a fulfilling activity such as exploring nature, where real joy lies.
I honestly believe that when given the correct approach, modern inventions and innovations can give us new thrills, can improve our lives, even allowing us to do what made people click 30 years ago, and more.