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Reflections October 2013

The Old Gal

Where Did All the History Go?

By Anne Ashley

All this short-lived, short-term expectation of appliances and stuff makes me feel badly for today’s youthful generation. There’ll be nothing left for them to cherish and hand down to their offspring. No valuable keepsake to assign to the chosen child. No reminder of times gone by to warmly educate future generations of how we used to do things.

It used to require at least 30 years of existence before technology was even considered for historical status. Things were allowed to become old fashioned and only eventually replaced by the long awaited for new and improved versions after years of wear and tear.

But today? Today technology changes so rapidly that we hardly have time to master the (mis)spelling of something before another innovative iGadget is on the shelves. 

Just a quick diversion on the subject of these new-fangled, all-singing and all- dancing iGizmos … Is anyone else alarmed that it costs more to purchase and run a phone these days that we older folk spent on our first home?

I happened to glance at a display just recently where the newest version of some have-to-have communication device was being “rolled out” (that’s modern slang for going on sale) and I don’t know what shocked me more, the price – which I initially mistook for a phone number – or the fact that the line of people waiting to purchase it was too long to count, and growing! I mean, I get that this thingamabob is also a camera, a calendar, a radio, a recording device and a navigational genius, just to name a few of its features …. but seriously! In my day spending that much money used to involve hiring a van to transport my purchase(s) home! You can fit this costly thing in your pocket. And that’s its selling point!

Anyway, today our household items are eliminated, dismissed and obsolete without even a fond farewell. No more do we get the contraption home, unwrap it (and don’t even get me started on how things are over wrapped these days) and use it before we’re bombarded by advertisement for the newer model … in blue (which translated means more expensive).

And the poor inventors don’t even get an honorable mention. I’m not overly impressed with being able to do everything from calling your partner to ruling the world all from the miniature keypad of a smart phone – but it would at least be nice to know what geek donated his/her entire youth to such technology. We all know who invented the original telephone. History has taught us to respect the wondrous achievements of Alexander Graham Bell. But can you name the first, middle and last name of the equally impressive inventor of the technology that turned our phones into NASA-worthy contraptions without looking it up on Wikipedia? No one cares any more about who invented it – we just wanna know when we can have it and when can we look forward to the newer model!

All this short-lived, short-term expectation of appliances and stuff makes me feel badly for today’s youthful generation. There’ll be nothing left for them to cherish and hand down to their offspring. No valuable keepsake to assign to the chosen child. No reminder of times gone by to warmly educate future generations of how we used to do things. No relic from days of yore will exist because everything now is throw-away and disposable!

I can recall my grandmother showing me a light bulb that had been given to her by her father. She kept it wrapped in a tea towel and stored snugly inside what looked like a shoe box. The modest, oddly shaped glass bulb was a treasure to her still, despite light bulbs now being literally a dime a dozen. She recounted stories about her childhood home being converted to electricity and how her mother was terrified of the intrusion. I believe I was about ten the first time I heard the tales and saw the antiquated bulb – but I shared her admiration.

I don’t even want to guess what my grandchildren would think of me if I unfolded the old cloth around my treasured and carefully stored USB plug and tried to inspire the same level of awe.

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