Sometimes I feel really old. Not particularly in a worn out or tired way, but more in a kind of “how did the world change so quick” way. So many things that were so familiar to me in my childhood have completely disappeared… and of course, things that hadn’t been invented in the 1970’s, now control our lives.
I can’t help thinking that if you were born in the late 1960’s (as I was), or even the 70’s, and are now living in 2019, you have probably witnessed some of the greatest and fastest changes that society has ever seen. The transformation of communications, the unparalleled spread of social media, and the 24/7 nature of our society are all things we would not have dreamed of back in 1966.
I remember coming in from school to watch General Hospital and then watching about an hour and a half of scheduled children’s programmes. There was no Sky, no continual sport, music or films on tap 24/7. There were three channels available and the biggest television treat of the week was watching Starsky and Hutch on a Saturday night. Do you remember the Test Card that used to appear when programming closed every evening? 24 hour television did not start until 1998, and the test card was first shown in 1967 when colour television came into being.
There is a presumption that perhaps there was less crime 50 years ago, and we were all a lot safer on the streets, but I’m not sure that is really true. Crime just seems to have been different. There was not the same depressing deluge of constant stabbings, shootings and drug related crime in the 1970’s and 80’s like there is now, but instead we were listening to details of the latest IRA bombing outrage or the unspeakable and terrifying deeds of the serial killers who stalked those decades, including Sutcliffe, Bundy and Black.
I remember getting our first (extremely massive and unwieldy) computer in 1996 and trying the search engines on the internet for the first time. It was mind blowing, even then! Now we wonder how we would cope without it. Information on every subject is at our fingertips day or night. To “google” something is now recognised in dictionaries, and is very much part of our everyday language. Where did we look before if we needed information? The Encyclopedia Brittanica! Google it if you have no idea what that is!
I miss libraries. I know there are a few still about, but they aren’t as prevalent as they were a few decades ago. I remember living in Stafford in the 1970’s, and a library van used to stop at the end of our road. Climbing aboard and inhaling the smell of all those lovely books was such a pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong, I love 90% of our new technology and the way that it has changed out lives. I am as addicted to Twitter and Instagram as a teenager, and fully appreciate the scale of social media and it’s influence over my existence. Of course with the good, comes the very bad, and all sorts of vile individuals can now spew their hatred and vitriol from their sad little bedrooms wreaking terrible damage on people they have never met, and certainly don’t know, without having to set a foot outside their front door. I realise that because I am older, any nastiness I receive bounces off me with little effect. It is not the same for many of the younger generation, who haven’t the maturity yet to deal with this type of mindless hate.
I couldn’t do without my mobile phone, it is literally attached to my head, I own an iPad, a Kindle, a laptop and an Apple Watch, and I still wonder if I need more technology in my life. I spend hours shopping on the internet, and then bemoan the downturn in our high street shopping centres. I gripe about footballers wages, and then happily buy both a Sky Sports and a BT Sport subscription so I don’t miss a game.
So when people moan about text messages, e-readers , and mobile phones, no, I’m not with you… but I do absolutely understand that modern life is anxiety ridden and is potentially very harmful to our young people. This is because of the perfect ideal we have of what our lives are supposed to be. We are all under so much pressure to be supremely content, sane, confident and accomplished. As a result, we end up feeling miserable, weak and ineffectual, and panicking that we are missing out or that our lives are being wasted.
I love the reliability and safety that technology can offer us, I enjoy driving a modern car and I am grateful for the the way I can speak to my dad who lives in Atlanta and it sounds like he is just down the road. I live for internet shopping and the joy of having my groceries delivered rather than stomping around Sainsbury’s, is a constant delight. I wouldn’t swap back to 1970 for all the Apple Macs in China, but I do appreciate that we are now in a “give it to me now” society, where there is no waiting, no patience and sometimes no effort. And perhaps no responsibility?
Some things never change of course, I’m sat here writing this post with the worst cold anyone has ever had, (I’m well known for being somewhat dramatic when ill), and there is still no cure or medicine than can cut out these horrible symptoms. We have come a long way though with significant steps towards cures for Cancer and Alzheimer’s.
I am pretty sure food doesn’t taste as good as it used to. I worry about the pollution in the air and what we are doing to our environment… but I love our coffee culture and the accessibility of travel and holidays. We are off to St Lucia soon, and later this year, Cape Verde. As a child I was happy with a week in Torquay.
Swings and roundabouts, good and bad. We can’t turn the clock back, so don’t waste your time wishing we could. Make the most of our technology-centred lives and take responsibility for your own happiness. Who knows where we will be in another 50 years? ❤️