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.