IBM Simon Personal Communicator

IBM Simon Personal Communicator

I look back on 20th Century and find myself fondly and more often these days reminiscing about the good old days. Does this make me an old fart? Thank goodness, yes it does. Howard Florey invented penicillin, John Logie Baird pioneered the development of mechanical television and a boy at my school invented the burp along sing along. I had a crush on him for the longest time.
Despite the increasingly more sophisticated ways we can talk to each other today, to quote the head warder in the movie Cool Hand Luke ‘What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.’ And that was said in 1967. How prophetic.

In those good old days if I wanted to be alone with my thoughts for five uninterrupted minutes, I turned off the television, left the phone in its socket and went for a walk. Now there’s no escaping the musical ring tones emanating from the bottom of my bag. Thankfully, that’s as bad as it gets for me. There’s a constant wittering and twittering, texting and instagramming that I’m glad does not involve me. Even if I could get myself to join the cacophony I find it hard enough to keep up this blog; I just cannot imagine what I have to say about my life that would be of interest to anyone else.

I’m predicting that pretty soon there won’t be a need to leave the house. We hardly communicate face to face any more and most of our purchases are made online. I think the next invention has got to be a three dimensional program, like Star Trek’s holo-deck.

Some people greet social media with open arms. I shove my twice accursed mobile phone to the bottom of my bag and run. But I can’t escape it totally. Having happily waved the phone through its various mutations – from brick to slick – my children forced one on me.

That’s when the trouble began. I did beautifully without a phone for years, now I find myself needing one because elderly relatives are suddenly counting on me to stay connected. And lately, if I’m being honest, I’ve been finding it intolerable not to have an immediate answer to a query that I’ve made via text to family and friends. I am hooked now, there’s no going back, but I refuse to upgrade to bigger and shinier toys. They are what I call the Pandora / Trojan Horse effect, gifts at first, sent to make our lives easier and more fun until we realise what the cost is and that they cannot be sent back to where they came from.

As I’m writing this I am listening to Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound and humming ‘I’m sitting at the railway station with a ticket for my destination,’ mmhmm. Could he have written the lyrics, do you think, if he’d had to contend with the tap tapping of touch phones and forced to listen to mundane conversations about he said, she said and how are you’s? Perhaps the song would have taken a different angle, all about LOLs, Top Tweets and Trending Topics.


12 thoughts on “I’m sitting at the railway station

  1. How did I live through my youth with no air conditioning or a shower in our house? How did I drive all those many years – even to work in a suit – with no air conditioning in my car? How did I drive without a phone by my side? Oh, the joys of invention/technology.

    Mary, when I leave the house and accidentally forget my phone, I am unsettled. What if I break down? How would I get help? Yet, I managed for most of my life without a phone in the car.

    My phone is just a phone. I can text or talk – no internet. I don’t Twitter; I barely Facebook, but this blasted blogging!! I am hooked!

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post, and yes, I am an old fart, too! 🙂

    • We can yearn for the past but we can never go back. My problem is that I have trouble adjusting to the present. Move over Wilma Flintstone. Keep on keeping on with your blogging, Maddie.

  2. I do like my phone but I definitely do not live by it. No iphone here, I do have a smart phone but it is mostly for texting my two older kids and I tend to send a nice text to my hubby now and then. 😉 I am always getting told “you don’t answer your phone” Nope, it just may be in the other room….LOL 🙂

      • I still like doing things without electronics. I prefer a book over ebooks, though I do read those. I love jotting notes on paper instead of typing them on the computer. I do love the internet. I think I would be lost without it at least some. 🙂

      • I’m with you about doing without electronics wherever possible and jotting things down on paper, but it’s becoming harder and harder. Would you believe that I lost accezss to the internet for half a day today. Panic stations. I’m afraid there’s no going back for me any more. 🙂

    • You’ve obviously lapsed, you poor thing. Just hold on and tell yourself, one day at a time till you can get to the next Luddite Grannies anonymous meeting.

  3. It is amazing how quickly we not only be accustomed to but also reliant upon each new technological marvel they come out with. It is a genius business model though – start you off with one gadget that will make your life easier and then you are stuck getting upgrades, improvements, spin-offs and the items have become such a societal norm that there is no conceivable way to get back to where we were before them. Love your pandora’s box analogy.

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