Love Technology, Hate It

Can’t stand technology sometimes, but can’t seem to live without it

By Jeff Salter

We’re blogging this week about technology — I suppose to assess both the good and bad. The specific question is “Do you remember how life was BEFORE everything was electronic and portable?”

Yes, I remember life before electronics

As one of the Foxes mentioned this week, I remember when transistor radios first came out and everybody thought, “WOW, you don’t have to plug it into the wall. That means you can take it with you!”

I grew up with one household telephone, on the wall just outside the kitchen and everybody in the house could hear every word you said. And that was AFTER we got off the party line!

I learned to type on a manual typewriter and one of my first paying jobs (work on a small daily newspaper) was with a manual Royal desk model.

I remember television from an antenna on the roof… when we got two stations (CBS and NBC) from New Orleans and occasionally could tune in a very fuzzy ABC affiliate from Baton Rouge.

I remember life before photo-copiers. Yeah, the old carbon paper and onion skin routine… and erasing your mistakes on each copy. And back then, we used 3 X 5 note cards to record info from books.

I remember when nearly all batteries (except for vehicles) were either D cell or C cell — plus those big bricks called 6-volts. I remember when re-chargeable batteries first emerged on the retail market. I thought, “Wow, I’ll never have to buy a battery again.” Well, that turned out to be bogus — I’m always buying batteries and yet I’m always out of the size I need. And now they come in 30 different sizes.

I remember when encyclopedias, dictionaries, reference books, and catalogs all were in hard copy only… and you either had to own them or go where they were available.

tied-to-devices

Big changes

For consumers, the biggest marvel was electronic storage and memory. Imagine having a full-length novel manuscript and being able to make a few changes and print out an entirely new version… without re-typing every single word and punctuation mark!

E-mail connected people within minutes instead of having to wait 3-4 days for sent mail to be delivered and for reply mail to be received.

What I DON’T like about technology

I don’t like having to create and remember 14 different passwords… and (at some places) having to change them every six months.

I don’t like faulty databases that nobody can fix “because they’re automated.” Most of the credit card companies check their account names and addresses against a master list run by the U.S. Post Office, supposedly. We live near a cemetery and its name is on the road with our house. Yet that official USPO database spells the name of our road “cemetary.” For the first five years I lived here, each month I sent a change of address with every bill I paid… along with a note explaining our situation and providing the correct spelling, “Cemetery Road”. For those few who did actually make the change, sometimes only after a phone call to customer service, it was switched BACK to the incorrect spelling the very next time that entity ran their account list against the post office database.

Problems that didn’t exist (to much degree) before technology allowed them

I don’t like hackers, spammers, phishers, identity thieves, or any of the other scummy vandals who ruin people, their credit, their reputation, and whatever else can be destroyed.

I don’t like cyber bullies – of whatever age or location – who, with the relative anonymity of technology, can stalk, harass, intimidate, and terrorize relatively helpless people.

What I DO like about technology

Mileage is a lot better now (than with the old mechanical carburetors)…

Most electrical appliances are more energy efficient than they were a generation ago…

Digital TV is much higher quality than analog…

Cable internet is much faster than dial-up…

Thumb-drives (or, if you prefer, flash drives) are much more portable, have far greater storage capacity, and can be used in many more applications than floppy discs ever could…

Battery-powered tools (like saws and drills) are just as powerful (or more) than the kind with cords… and they can go a lot farther than the kind tied to your wall.

I like being able to check the real-time score of an on-going ballgame… rather than waiting until the next morning’s newspaper.

Good and bad

The internet has allowed society to put everything on-line. That means EVERYTHING. All the ugliness, hatred, violence, and exploitation is right at our fingertips… along with the digitized Bibles, art masterpieces, literary classics, and architectural wonders of the world.

Digital publishing has transformed what can be published and purchased. It’s become possible for writers who otherwise might never have broken through the gatekeepers to see their material released. Yet is has also flooded the book marketplace with a lot of really inferior text.

Traditional print magazines and newspapers are rapidly dwindling in usefulness and timeliness… yet we now have access to hundreds / thousands of sources of information and it’s often up to the minute.

Sometimes, I am appalled at the amount of time I spend “networking” on Facebook, email, and Twitter. Yet, these technological marvels have allowed me to reconnect with friends and loved ones, and have provided opportunities to meet wonderful new friends and colleagues. They also let me to keep apprised of developing situations.

I like the convenience and portability of a personal cell phone… but I hate how complicated and unyielding they are.

Summary

If the national grid had gone down during the 1930s, probably half of the nation would not even have been aware of it. If that happened in the 1950s, we would’ve been without radio or TV or traffic lights for a few days perhaps – and my mom would’ve tossed the few perishables in a cooler chest with ice – but nearly everything else could have gone forward. But if an electro-magnetic pulse goes off over North America NOW and fries every circuit and wipes every byte of memory storage, what will happen to us?

Question:

What do you remember about pre-technology?

[ JLS # 274 ]

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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23 Responses to Love Technology, Hate It

  1. sharon ruffy says:

    i can remember all those. Remember when the microwaves came out. the old school people swore (me included) that we would never use them. Now there is one in so many kitchens. I do not know what i would do without mine.

    If we lost our power grid, semi permanently, a lot of people would go crazy with no electronics and wouldn’t have a clue what to do.

    Being an older lady, i am grateful for all the friends i have all over the country. Facebook is a blessing to me, although I was reluctant to get on board.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yeah, I also remember feeling quite averse to microwaves. “What on earth would we use that for?” But we use ours many, many times every single day. It’s probably the most used appliance we have.
      Yes, I was also a fairly late convert to facebook. but now I love how I can connect to people far away or from my past… and meet new people nearly every day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous says:

        I remember in the 1980s we had a big discussion about whether to install a fax machine in our radio station. I came down on the opposing side–why did the home office need us to fax our daily sales figures and expenditures, etc. in real time?? I favored mailing it in like always. That way, if something good happened before they got that bad news via mail, I could call and set their minds at ease and tell them to ignore the mail that wouild be arriving in a day or two. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        yeah, there was something to be said for having that 3-4 day delay so you could cushion the bad news. Ha.

        Like

      • Joselyn says:

        Re: microwaves. I’m not sure I can make a meal without one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. jbrayweber says:

    Wonderful post, Jeff! I remember all the old technology you mentioned though they’d been around before I was born.

    I adore technology; it’s made life easier on so many levels. And I love staying connected with friends near and far, and have the ability to make new ones. Some of my most treasured friends I have either never met in person or see maybe once every year or two.

    But I worry about future generations and how they rely so heavily on it. It’s made people weak, too. I could go on about how I feel hard work by manual labor (of all sorts) has made humanity a bunch of cry babies. But I won’t. And I hate that people use technology for nefarious purposes like identity theft and social media for cyberbullying.

    Yes, there is so much good and bad in technology. It’s not too sci-fi that we could possibly go extinct without it.

    Jenn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks for stopping in today, Jenn.
      BTW, I didn’t forget the MuseTracks post yesterday — I just got tied up. Heading there in a few minutes.
      Yes, the generation that raised me had been through the Great Depression, so they knew hardship, hard work, and how to survive without many [ any ] frills. And they tried to teach my generation to be equally self-reliant and capable. to a large extent, many of us did turn out to know a bit about a thing or two… and if there was a huge blackout, it could be a lot tougher on the generations which followed mine.
      But even in this newest crop of kids, I see bright faces who are inquisitive, willing to work had, and able to get things done. So the future is probably brighter than some of us (at times) think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jbrayweber says:

        I sure hope so, Jeff. Media generally reports all the ugliness in the world. Living near the 4th largest metropolis in the States, it’s sometimes hard to see that there are still good, hard-working people out there. And technology can and does bring out the best in many. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        I’m glad I live in a smallish town. But also glad that Lexington is less than 100 miles away when I need it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Nice discussion of the good and the bad. I agree about the password nuisance – at the university where I teach I have to change mine every six months, and I can’t use one I’ve used previously. I’ve been there eleven years and I’m running low on ideas! Scary to think what would happen if power would go down for an extended period of time. It would definitely take a lot of adjustment, especially in large cities. No elevators, no public transportation, no night life. The entertainment industry as we know it couldn’t function. Or maybe we’d have to do things as they did a century or two ago – by candlelight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      losing internet, email, texting, and word processing would cripple most of us, myself included. At my age, physical frailties also enter the picture and I can’t do outside labor as I used to be able. There are many things we could still accomplish by candlelight, but Track Changes in a manuscript is NOT one of them!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Anonymous says:

    Technology back in the day was a chrome-laden bicycle with wide tires, fenders, luggage rack, basket, headlight, and push-button horn. All that technology made bikes heavy, but riding them sure was good exercise. Good for the ego, too, cruising past your girlfriend’s house where she was watching you from the porch swing as you tooted your little bike horn and yelled, “Look, no hands!” and ran smack into the car you didn’t see parked at the curb….(but that’s another story.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Still working on tomorrow’s post…it is easy to slide into what we have instead of what we didn’t have.
    I love the Gulliver-esque picture!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joselyn says:

    I just read Station Eleven. Fascinating book. One of the characters and his paraplegic brother are trapped on the 33rd floor of their building. Without the elevator, the brother cannot leave. Something that we don’t think about.

    Liked by 1 person

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