It’s so easy to get caught up in the technological marvels of the 21st century. High-speed internet access and wi-fi at every corner. Cordless telephones and cellphones to keep in touch everywhere we go. Computers and email have far eclipsed fax machines and typewriters. We can bring our entire music collection with us in our pockets so we always have something to listen to, and more and more we can bring our libraries as well. Even cooking is high-speed, with microwaves and prepared convenience foods.
Still … there are lessons to be learned.
Let’s wax nostalgic for a moment, shall we? Let’s all think of those golden days of yore when people lounged on their front porches drinking lemonade; when children played ball in the street. Let’s remember a time when…
- We put letters in the mail and were happy to wait one or two weeks before we got a response.
- We did not expect answers to be instantaneous.
- We were happy visiting the library for books to read or to reference.
- We regularly met with our friends in person, and even dropped into each others’ houses regularly.
- We understood that travel could be an adventure to be savored, not a hassle to be rushed through.
- We wrote long, thoughtful, descriptive letters to friends, family, and even near-strangers, just as a way of keeping in touch and sharing our lives.
- We wrote them by hand, usually in ink, while sitting at a desk and relishing the feel of the pen in our hand and the texture of the paper under the nib. (Oh, and we had the penmanship to match.)
- We had telephones that stayed in one place, so that we couldn’t walk all over the house while on a call–instead, we stayed in one place and focused on the conversation.
- We took the time to do things well and thoroughly, without worrying about tight deadlines or the need to get on to the next thing.
- We understood that the world was wide and relished the communities we built close to home.
- We went to school to learn to think, not just to get passing grades, and then we took that ability to think to create the world we wanted to live in.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the urgent forward movement of progress. The desire to discover the “next new thing,” and to play with all the new gadgets is tempting to say the least. Because, let’s admit it, they’re fun.
As much as I always wanted to go back and really see what history was like, I would not want to give up any of my modern conveniences. I love email and twitter to connecting to my friends. I can’t imagine life without internet access any more than I could imagine not having light (or air conditioning). And I really, really like my indoor plumbing, thank you.
It’s important, though, to remember how far we’ve come. To look back to acknowledge the progress we’ve made, the changes that have occured … and to note the little grace notes of life that may have been drowned out in technology’s hum.
Even with my appreciation for the past, I wouldn’t want to live there. It was hot without air conditioning, and I’m not fond of growing my own food. But, still, some things were valuable, and some skills should be saved. I cook from scratch, and bake my own bread. I spin yarn and knit it into sweaters and socks. I like these things but I’m not going to give up my jeans or the convenience of a grocery store.
And the internet. I say we definitely keep that. Or how would you leave me comments?