I woke up early today, naturally. I always do that when I don’t have to be to work early. I heated up my oatmeal in the microwave and with my coffee in hand, took my laptop outside and called my sister on Skype, had a nice face to face conservation with her, me in Idaho, her in Italy. I paid my phone bills and water bill on-line while I talked to her. Then a friend hit me up on instant messenger and I caught up with her, which reminded me, I needed to email a friend in California some information she has asked for. Above me, I hear a 747 bringing people to our quiet city, complete with complimentary internet service up there in that seat in a sky.
I needed to get my day started, so I went inside and found my cell phone, my mom text me that I hadn’t shown her my latest creations, so I took a picture of the quilt I finished with my phone and sent it to her. My husband sits in front of his computer, completing his certification training software, hooked up on ‘vent’ so he can instantly talk to his friend he’s taking the course with.
I get dressed and go for a quick hike, listen to a book on my mp3 player that I downloaded from the library. As I walk outside I see the mailman, he’s just dropped off my Netflix. Birds chirp, there is a slight promise of fall in the air today. The weather today is supposed to be gorgeous, according to my cell phone, a high of 74 degrees. I have a little time to waste, so I watch an old episode of Glee on Hulu before I headed to work.
That’s life today, nothing spectacular about any of that, quite boring really, don’t you think?
But then, think about it, really.
When my sister first moved to Italy, there was no Skype. We ran up phone bill after phone bill, hundreds of dollars in calling cards just to try and talk to each other. That was five years ago, now we talk face to face, with a computer that I take OUTSIDE my house, it isn’t plugged into anything. It’s running on a battery and through wavelengths and shit I don’t understand, I’m connected to the internet, which allows me to connect to Skype, which allows me to make a PHONE CALL for FREE to my sister who is 6,000 miles away. Then, we hit little buttons on our Skype controls and it turns on our ‘built in cameras’ on our computers and there is my sister!
Oatmeal, cooked on a stove, is pretty quick, it only takes 20 minutes to do it the old fashioned way. Now, you can take a little instant package of oatmeal, dump it in a bowl, heat water for 30 seconds in a microwave and…breakfast! In 1986, only 25% of American households had microwave ovens. Do you remember your first microwave oven? I do. We didn’t have counter space for it, that thing was as big as our oven, it was huge. Not to mention expensive, I think my parents laid down about $200 for our first microwave. Now, over 90% of households have microwaves, and three years ago we paid $30 bucks for our brand new microwave.
Lap top. My flipping lap top. My family joined the computer age in ’95. That’s when my mom got her first used computer. I didn’t have a computer. I had a Brother Word Processor. That thing cost me an arm and a leg as well! I took it to college, wrote all my papers on it, but had to go to the computer lab of my college to check my email. Then I was still writing letters home, all my friends were writing letters as well. It was 1996 and we were writing letters, not to mention we would call each other on telephones. Now I have a lap top, access to the WHOLE WORLD on my lap. I can talk to my sister, I can read the news in Los Angeles, Georgia, Idaho and Italy from my lap. Remember newspapers? Remember sitting next to the wall phone, or sitting as far as the cord would go and talking on the phone? Remember when you mailed bills? Now you can make magic transactions from encrypted bank accounts to encrypted accounts jut to pay bills. From your LAP you can do this! Even though we can do this, I still find myself saying things like, “Twenty four hours? It’s going to take 24 hours for this transaction to go through? Why so long?” I haven’t moved and I paid a bill without the postal service, why am I complaining?
Instant messaging. Instant messaging became popular in the mid 90’s among computer literate geeks. Then in 2000, only ten years ago, Jabber was developed, an instant message system for businesses. Now, im-ing is part of my daily computer life. Remember the days when you needed to ask someone a question and you called them; on their home phone, and it rang and rang? Then the machine picked up and you left your instant message.
Anyone remember Blockbuster? Remember VCR’s? Again, the folks paid big bucks for our VCR and we had a membership at Blockbuster so we could rent the latest releases in movies. We went to the store, and always before we returned it, was the conversation of my mother asking us if we had remembered to rewind the movie, so we weren’t given a rewind fee. Now, portable DVD players are also about $30 bucks and for only $10 a month, you can join Netflix and not only have movies delivered by mail, you can stream movies through your home computer.
This is where I admit where I got today’s blog idea.
I was sent a video of the comic Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien Show, he talks about airplanes and about how amazing it is that you can get from Los Angeles to New York in 5 hours, and now it comes with free high speed internet service. And how people are pissed when the internet doesn’t work on a flight, or their flight is delayed, and other inconveniences that go with flying. Louis states that we should be amazed. “You’re flying, it’s amazing, everybody on every plane should constantly be going ‘oh my God’…your sitting in a chair in the sky…” If you want to check out Louis CK’s on Conan click here.
I started to think about my life, about the conveniences I take for granted. Family and friends are really only one click away. Technologies have made life simpler, we are all connected, literally now. Life is amazing, and yet it seems there is more discontent and restlessness than ever.
In a trend of articles of late, in the Atlantic and Los Angeles times, journalists have been touching on this idea about how these new technologies are forcing us all to live in the moment, but the problem is that the moment is gone in seconds.
As Pico Iyer put it “So much of our time, already, is contracted to the point of right now, that we’re locked, more and more, inside the windowless cell of the Present. Tiger Woods the hero seems ancient history already, and the latest convulsions in the Jon-and-Kate story, broadcast with every tremor, ensure that we’re trapped inside the latest millisecond.”
Could that be part of the problem? Are we all caught up in the moment that we no longer recall what our lives look like? Do we all need to find a way to stop, really stop and look around and see how amazing things are, to put it all back into perspective?
There will always be pros and cons for each new technology that comes along; I think the trick might be to try and keep the tyranny of the moment in perspective.
Some old truths still abound, you can’t take it with you, no matter how hard you try. Things will come and go, we will always be the go between for money and bills. Bills will probably always be present, but maybe none of this is what it’s about. Friendships, families, talents and memories. No one can take those away. No matter how hard they try. Technology and living in the moment is good, if we do it on a broader scale, if we bring some laughter to it perhaps. If we stop and try to be truly amazed at how lucky we are. Maybe that’s the trick of it all.
“So live that your memories will be part of your happiness.” -Anonymous.