Friday, 24 May 2013

On an old fashioned son, and modern technology

My eldest son said recently that everything we really need had been invented by the 1970s. He will have no truck with social networking, refuses to text, and must be the only person on the planet who has  asked (and been refused) a mobile downgrade (he now uses his wife's old mobile).

Having given this some thought, I think he has a point. I see my grandchildren glued to their little screens (when they're permitted; this son's children have very little of that kind of thing, and his eleven-year old  is the only child in his class who hasn't a mobile); young mothers texting as they walk their children to school; people tweeting what they had for breakfast; ever faster and more sophisticated gadgets...and I wonder whether we need any of it. I know computers are useful (son has one as he  has to have it for work), but we managed without them; we used to speak to each other and write to each other; proper conversations and real letters. We don't need to manage the whole house via a switch, which I gather is coming soon.

Meanwhile, everyone is "stressed" (why?), trains are filthy and crowded, meadows of wild flowers have vanished (probably beside the point, but still...)and no-one seems happy. So I've come round to thinking he's right. All the things I really need (washing machine, vacuum cleaner) were there long before 1970. Apart from a word processor (forget the computer; and I know I'm using one now, but that's because it's there), there's nothing post-1970 that I really need.

How about you?

21 comments:

  1. You have me racking my brains now and I have a feeling you may be right! Gadget wise, I agree (I presume we're not talking general inventions such as medical advances) although I love the small digital cameras.

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    1. Yes, but you don't NEED them, Wendy!

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  2. I agree with you and your son, Frances. I don't even know how to text and have no wish to learn. My mobile phone is never charged as I don't intend to use it. It's only there because I thought I ought to have one. Fortunately there is no signal in our village, which means no one uses one in the house.
    I would hate to be without the dishwasher and washing-machine and Hoover, and I guess I'm always using the laptop to write, but other than that, I would rather not have to see people's ears and eyes glued to their gadgets all the time. I would so love to write and receive letters again. x

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  3. Shower, vaccum cleaner, washing machine, electric kettle, coffee mashine, fridge, stove, steam iron, telephone, central heating and electric light as well as my digital camera, my kindle and my computer - those are the "gadgets" I do not wish to be without, and that is already quite a long list, I guess.
    I really like my computer, since it allows me to find information that would otherwise be inaccessible to me or only with a lot of research; it holds my favourite game (The Sims 2), I use it to communicate with friends and family via email as well as for work, and of course there is blogland which I have come to like a lot over the past few years.
    No facebook, twitter or google+ etc. for me; I am simply not interested.

    You are right about the filthy and crowded trains and that so many people seem to be "stressed" when really almost everyone works a lot less hours than our grandparents did. But you're not right about no-one seeming to be happy: I know several people who are happy, one of them being me! Some of my happiness has to do with people I would not know if it weren't for the computer, but it does not really depend on it.

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    1. Most of the things you really like were there pre-1970, Meike. As for the rest, what you never had, you can't miss. I think what I meant about happiness was that no-one seems to be any HAPPIER with all these gadgets.

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  4. I agree, Frances. Life was simpler, less complicated back then. The only person I knew with a computer was Dr. Who and his was the size of an outhouse.

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    1. I knew I could count on you, cowboy.

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  5. I think my son partly agrees as he won't do any kind of social networking at all! I love the fact my son and daughter grew up before computers became the rage as they are both very creative.

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    1. My kids grew up without all these things, too, and I'm sooo grateful!

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  6. I had to make a request to a financial institution by letter and I realised it has been ages since I did that.
    I do think that Skype is a great way of keeping in touch with my grandchildren abroad, but recently on Facebook someone informed their friends of a family bereavement and someone else posted a picture of their baby scan!

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    1. Oops! I dislike and mistrust Facebook, L. It's so open to abuse.

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  7. Swings and roundabouts. There is good and bad in everything, but I do agree about the overuse of social media and I hate the fact that we are all being drawn to use the internet whether we like it or not. And then I have a feeling that there will be a big catastrophe and people will go back to using pen and paper, cheque books and even landline telephones.

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  8. Personally I think the perfect vacuum cleaner still needs to be invented ;) - on the other hand I never owned a washing machine of my own (where I live now I share one with 17 other households which is an improvement to before). I felt no need of a mobile phone until 2006 but upgraded to an Android two years ago and now feel strangely lost if I happen to leave the flat without it. (It's not that I talk much on the phone. It's just about knowing that I can if I want to.) I LOVE my digital camera, laptop, scanner/printer, digital audio books, and my latest addiction the Kindle. As much as I loved the 1970's when I was in them... I was young then. With the decrepitude of forty additional years, I would not really want to go back there!

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    1. I wouldn't want to go back, but I still think we had all we needed. Many of the other things we didn't even know about!

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  9. My personal favorite appliance is the washing machine, followed closely by the dryer. Then I don't think I would want to give up my computer; being a writer I find it a great convenience. Printer, scanner, and my beloved shredder are close to the top of my favorites list. I could do without the cell phone, don't Tweet and don't Text.

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    1. Washing machine - essential. And well and truly pre-1970!

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  10. I'd hate to be without my iPhone. It's the single gadget that has, for the past three years, given me most pleasure and usefulness.

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  11. My husband is reluctantly (after years of dire threats) beginning to use my old cell phone. And when he does use it, you can see it's with the greatest resistance. But I do agree with your son, and you - in the technological explosion, our current age has lost the gracious living of previous eras and yet people survived without all the gadgets. What worries me more though, is as "advanced as we get, we're still so uncivilised (Woolwich!)so all this technological evolution hasn't helped the human race evolve at all. :(

    Before I get too depressed I'm going outside to get some lovely winter sunshine! :)

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  12. We've had this discussion when you wrote a similar post not very long ago. I shall be consistent and say that the choice of the 70s and cherry picking what you think is useful and not useful is quite arbitrary and meaningless. Go to many places in this world and you will find none of the things you think are 'essential'. On the other hand living without many of the modern safety features on cars (to take a random example) means death for many more people in the crowded country that is England (sic).

    Frankly I love that I live in an age of technological innovation at a pace and scale up with which we can hardly keep. I love that I can go almost anywhere in the world and speak to my son anywhere else in the world at the press of a button.

    But if others want to eschew all that that's fine by me.

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