As I sit and write this article, I marvel at just how far we have advanced as a technological society.
As we rapidly approach the 2007 summer season, our world is fast-paced and continues to become faster still.
People walk around with their phones in their pocket. Television not only has countless networks but also channels ranging into the hundreds. Some of us cannot go even five minutes without checking that all-important e-mail. I mean, we phone message and text message and instant message until we are blue in the face.
We are all slaves to that ever increasing societal monster known as technology.
Home PCs, cable TV, satellite dishes, Xbox, cell phones, BlackBerries, TiVo, WiFi, Bluetooth, AAAHHHHH!!!
OK, all right, let me have a minute to breathe here.
Oh yes, that’s much better. Now, shall we continue?
Don’t get me wrong; I am as much for the improvement and advancement of this world as the next guy. But, couldn’t we slow down just a little bit?
Now let me take you on a journey back in time. Lean back, close your eyes and let your mind flow – back through the new millennium, the ’90s, the ’80s.
You can open your eyes now because we are here. Oh, where is here you ask?
We have traveled back 40 years to the summer of the year 1977. And boy, was life much more simple.
I was 9 years old that magical summer. “Star Wars” was the new surprise blockbuster hit. Studio 54 was THE hot nightclub. Disco ruled the airwaves. Everyone was either “hip,” “groovy,” “diggin’ the scene,” “puttin’ on our boogie shoes” or some combination of these terms.
And best of all – at least from my point of view – the technological world was in a whole different realm. So let’s discuss terms, shall we?
Telephones: In that year, telephones were still attached to the wall. There was no “hands-free” device as of yet. The cordless model (which by the way, was huge, bulky and didn’t let you get more than all of 2 feet before signal loss set in) wouldn’t come into use until the early ’80s. If you had to use the phone, you were pretty much at the mercy of the longest cord money could buy. And that is exactly what everybody did. The cord on our kitchen phone was like a million feet long. OK, it was more like 30 feet, but you get the idea.
Television Networks: In that time, there were a whopping total of three, count them, three, networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. That was the extent of it. Most of the networks to come would not happen until the explosion of cable in the ’80s. MTV did not exist until 1981. FOX would not enter the game until the early ’90s. Besides, we didn’t have the luxury of owning 580 different channels. And people complain that there is nothing on TV these days.
Television Channels: During that era, we had a choice of 12 total channels. The only channels that really existed were channels 2 through 13. Otherwise, channel 1 and everything from 14 on up produced nothing but static unless you had a TV antenna, or what my father affectionately referred to as “rabbit ears.” Even then, you had to balance them with one hand while sticking your left leg out behind you, all the while my father yelling “that’s it, don’t move,” and that was just to get “M*A*S*H*” on Wednesday nights. Oh yeah. Good times indeed.
Video Games: What video games? All we had at that time was the first real sit-down video game. It had a black-and-white screen, a square “ball” that two players batted back and forth, an extended line about an inch long for each player to hit the “ball” with, and a “net” running down the middle of the screen. The name of that exciting behemoth of technology was (dramatic pause for emphasis) “PONG!” You may think “Oh, ‘Pong.’ How boring” but you would be wrong. That little video game paved the way for such systems as Atari, Intellivision and Nintendo. That is why there is an Xbox today. The next time you see an out-of-work “Pong,” just go ahead and thank him.
E-mail: OK, people. When you return home and get all stressed out over some missed message, just keep this in mind. Take it back a few decades and remember, there was no e-mail then – if you missed it, then you missed it. No big deal!
And now here is a brief note on four final modern terms that I would like to squeeze in.
TIVO and WI-FI:
Oh, I’m sorry. Are those supposed to be foreign languages or something? Hmmm!
Let me tell you something. When we were kids, blackberries were something we went and picked wild off the vines in the fields behind our house. OK.
Again with the let me tell you. Bluetooth was something we all got after drinking the blueberry ICEE after we left our neighborhood 7-Eleven store. Right.
Technology can be a benefit to our society as a whole, no doubt about it. Sometimes though, I picture it this way: I see technology as an endlessly cycling treadmill, crunching away everything in its path. I also see everybody in this world, whether a producer or user of that same technology, as tireless runners grinding away on that same treadmill. However, sometimes we all need to take a break and slow down. We all need to keep in mind the times when things were a bit simpler.
We need to remember to say to ourselves on occasion: Stop the technology treadmill,
I want to get off.
Daniel Seguin is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily staff writer.