I’m the product of the 70’s, who grew up in the 80’s and spent most of the 90’s with my nose in a book. I saw the rise and fall of so many technologies, I probably couldn’t even name them all in one post – but do I really miss any of them?
I spent my childhood playing outside, riding bikes, watching the boys dressed like Michael Jackson break-dancing on street corners with giant boomboxes on their shoulders. At home, my mom taped a penny to the needle of our turntable so the vinyl records we loved so much wouldn’t skip, as we danced around the house. My dad took me to work, where I’d play on microfiche readers and run around labeling everything with an old dial-and-trigger label maker. At one point in time, I owned a Crimper, just like every other girl in the world. I made mixed tapes from the radio and gave them to my friends or crushes.
Modern technology allowed the advancement of television, the number of channels one could get steadily increasing, the portability of the sets (now with remotes!) an amazing feat. I remember the birth of MTV, the Cordless Phone, the Nintendo and watching the end of the Cold War begin, the Iron Curtain fall from thousands of miles away, as everyday citizens tore down a graffiti plastered wall in Berlin, East and West reunited and families long torn embraced amongst the rubble. New Geography text books introduced students to a country named Russia where the USSR used to be.
I complained about not being able to record on CDs, while simultaneously reveling in the fact that I no longer had to rewind or fast-forward to get to my favorite song. It was like having a turntable all over again! There was no internet, so I checked books out of the library. I wrote stories on a Brother Word Processor where I had to switch reels in order to change the font to bold or italics. Everything was saved on floppy discs, which only held 4 megabytes of information a piece, but this was a definite step up from the typewriter. Pictures were taken on 110’s and turned in to be developed after you saved up enough money; more time waiting to see the finger in front of the lens, the flash whitewashing the faces, memories improperly captured or lost to overexposure. Don’t even get me started on Polaroids.
I straddle a strange line. I prefer modern tech over less efficient, more costly machines. I like that I can just plug my digital camera or phone into my computer and print. That I can preview my pictures, no longer losing moments with finger blurs and dark blotches. I prefer my MP3 player over a walkman, my laptop over a desktop. DVDs replaced VHS, but now DVRs have replaced them all and I can watch BlueRays on my PS3 or insta-stream Netflix. My mom used to make cassette tapes of me talking to send to my grandmother and now we have Skype and Face Time.
I’m the author of an e-book for an e-publisher, own a Kindle, have downloaded my fair share of literature and fully support the growth of both the e-book industry and the Indie Authors, but I’m still the proud owner of a library card and read the classics in print. I still shop at my local Paperback Exchange store in town, because I would hate to see the death of the Printing Press. I take advantage of the instant gratifications that modern technology has provided us, but I also miss the simpler times when a needle scratched a vinyl record and music was given depth with white noise. I miss neighborhoods where children played outside without cell-phones and iPods, when their parents weren’t ruled by Facebook statuses and Tweets, so they actually sat on their front porches and watched, visited, fed a community.
I don’t miss any obsolete technology, only the times when they existed. Modern tech is a tribute to our creative ingenuity, I just wish it didn’t cost us human interaction to achieve it. I think Ray Bradbury saw a very possible, bleak future with Fahrenheit 451 and the people of today should read it as a warning, not a work of fiction. As I type this on my laptop, using Wifi and pingbacks, a wireless mouse, a cell-phone attached to my ear, I guess that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite, but if I must be one, at least allow me to keep the blinders off in the process for a little while longer. Let me reminisce and harbor the essence of nostalgia, while I make my kids put the video games down and go play outside…