Who were the good old days good for?

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2009

Think back 15 years.

If you had a cell phone, it was likely a big, clunky contraption, possibly in a bag that plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter.

A computer? If you had one it weighed a ton. So did the monitor. And slow? I don’t know how we ever got any work done with the speed computers crawled at years ago.

When former Vice President Al Gore invented the Internet (he did, didn’t he?) most people didn’t even have a home computer. And those who did were amazed at what a dial-up connection would bring into their homes. None of us had ever seen anything like it except on “The Jetsons” maybe, but futuristic cartoons don’t count.

When I was young I couldn’t wait until my parents let me have a telephone in my room. Now, kids don’t need a phone in their room. They have a cell phone glued to their ear.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but my 9-year-old has a cell phone. She rarely uses it, rarely even turns it on, but it sits on the table by her bed. Her cell phone.

She has a computer in her room (an iMac that really belongs to both of us), but a stationary computer isn’t really her cup of tea. A laptop, however, that’s what she wants for Christmas.

Heck, all the kids are getting them, she says.

Know what? She’s right.

My, how times have changed.

Technology has become a way of life for all of us. I can’t imagine being on the road now without my cell phone. I can’t imagine not having wireless, high speed internet connected to my laptop. I can’t even imagine pulling an encyclopedia off the bookshelf to look something up, or going to a library and manually looking through a file card catalogue.

And if I can’t imagine it — even though I did all of those things for more than half my life — just think how our children would react if technology suddenly was disconnected.

I’m pretty sure there would be chaos everywhere.

Our kids wouldn’t have a clue how to live their lives. Those of us who’ve been suckered into the technology age and all its bells and whistles probably wouldn’t either.

But sometimes I wonder, weren’t those really the good old days?

Today we’ve resorted to sending emails instead of writing letters, paying bills online instead of writing checks and sending messages through Facebook instead of calling our friends.

We have constant contact with our family, friends and coworkers through texting and instant messaging. But that isn’t the same as being face to face. And GPS in automobiles and cell phones can pinpoint our exact locations, so anyone who has access to the information can find us.

In other words, you can run, but you can’t hide.

When I was a teenager and didn’t make it home by curfew, my dad would get in his car and go and look for me.

But with today’s technology, and the improvements and new inventions bound to come as my daughter grows up, I’m pretty sure I won’t have to get into my car in the middle of the night and ride through all the local hotspots.

Fact is, with the advent of today’s technology, she probably won’t stand a chance.

Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all…

Sandy Cunningham is publisher of L’Observateur. She can be reached at sandy.cunningham @wickcommunications.com.