Our Friday Fox asked, “Have you ever visited a part of the country where things were done as an older time, or were far more modern than you are accustomed?”
I’ll begin with the second part of the question. Assuming that the word modern refers to the use of technology, it’s difficult for me to imagine a place in America where life is more modern than mine. There are many, many people who live a much more affluent lifestyle, but it seems that wealth allows them to have more people to do their bidding, or to purchase more of what they already have, which isn’t a modern concept. According to my children, I’m much more “plugged in” than they are. We have a doorbell that lets us see who is at the front door before we answer it (sometimes we don’t answer). We have a thermostat that can be adjusted from our phones, so we never have to walk over to it. Thanks to a magician in our phones, we don’t even have to type out questions – we just look at the phone and say “Hey, Siri, what time does McDonald’s open?” and we instantly get an answer. I tend to live in a digital world, or at least have my toes and ankles dipped in it.
My hubby and I recently purchased a new condo, and it was an entirely different experience than what we went through thirty years ago. Our realtor came over, and we told him what we were looking for. He then began sending us emails with various listings including details and photos, and we would let him know which ones interested us. Once we found one we liked, much of the process of buying it was online – submitting a bid, applying for a mortgage loan, getting insurance, changing utilities, even signing the purchase agreement and all the loan papers. We still had to sign our names several times at the closing, but it wasn’t nearly the ordeal it used to be.
Teaching is much more streamlined than it was when I first started. Even before schools were obliged to go virtual, I did a lot of things online. Students submitted their assignments through an online portal, I graded them, and returned them the same way. Final grades were done through another portal. This fall, I’ll be teaching a class entirely online, and I’m not entirely happy about not being face-to-face with my students, but I’ll adjust.
I would imagine that in larger cities, there might be more examples of technology, but in general, my friends who live there don’t seem to have any more gadgets and gizmos than we have.
As for places that remind me of the past, I’ve visited areas where life moves at a slower place. One that comes to mind is Shipshewana, Indiana, home of what’s billed as the largest flea market in the midwest. It’s also home to a very large Amish settlement, where homes have no electricity, very few have telephones of any kind, and people don’t drive cars. Although I haven’t gone into an Amish home, I’ve shopped in several Amish-owned shops and dined in a few Amish restaurants, and found a sense of contentment and peace. It’s a very simple life that one would almost have to be born into in order to appreciate it.
Living quite close to an urban area, I suppose it’s a general misconception among my circle of acquaintances that people in rural areas live in the past, but I know that’s not always the case. Recently, I traveled to Southern Illinois for a funeral. The hotel where I stayed was near the southern point of the state, quite a distance from any large city, but it was quite comfortable and had all the amenities one would expect anywhere, including two electric car chargers in the parking lot.
Recently, I’ve seen ads for “unplugged retreats” where you can go to escape technology. Your devices are locked up when you get there, and you spend time in a small cabin with very basic accommodations. People go there to read and relax and get away from the rest of the world. I suppose I could handle that for an hour or two, but then I’d want to get back to my hamster-in-a-wheel life. At some point in my life, I imagine I’ll slow down, but hopefully not for some time.