Change Isn’t Always Easy

McDonald’s Restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa

My favorite cartoons growing up were the Looney Tunes; Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and all the rest.

The older ones were great; I learned about life from the 3 minute shorts, but what really intrigued me were the cartoons about the future, particularly the one about the House of Tomorrow. It was supposed to be funny but it sent my imagination into overtime, and made me wonder if that’s really what the future held.

Looking back at it, I think the writers from the 1950’s had some insight into what to expect from the 21st Century, though most people just saw it as goofy entertainment.

Though I have been keeping up with the latest technology, I am sometimes take back by how much technology is changing all of our lives. We have an Echo Dot that plays our music whenever we want and of course, my computers, and cell phones, and tablets.

I see people walking down the street or sitting in coffee shops and restaurants, their eyes glued to their devices instead of talking to the person in front of them.  My own adult children have their phones out as I am trying to have a conversation with them. I don’t feel like it’s my lace to say, “Hey, put your phone away.” They aren’t 10 anymore and should know better, right?

But the changes aren’t just socially; they are starting to hurt our livelihood, as well.

I took my grandson, Thomas, home last weekend. He lives in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston. He was hungry, so we stopped at a McDonald’s close to his home. We walked in and I was expecting to see a long line of customers. It was just past 1 on a Sunday afternoon, after all. Instead, just a few people milled around the lobby, looking a little confused, including us. I started toward the counter to order.

“No, Grandma. We order over here,” he told me nonchalantly.  He pointed to a kiosk off to the side with a large sign hung above it that said, “Order Here.” I looked back at the counter (which had shrunk significantly in size from our last visit) and saw a sign above it that said “Pick Up Order Here.”

Wow, I thought. McDonald’s is losing it. Sure, it’s more convenient for the customer, but it’s missing the personal touch. It’s one of our basic needs as human beings. Why even bother going out to eat if you order your food from a kiosk?

It’s happening all over; the lines to the self check-outs at the big discount stores are starting to be longer than the regular check-outs. Jobs are being eliminated, one by one. Who will be next?

Those who are graduating high school may want to think about where the job market is heading and pick a career more suitable to the changes.

Sure we have the technology, but when are we going to realize that maybe crossing that line between convenience, and changing the way we live, is not always a good thing?

 

 

 

Modern Technology

The writing prompt for today is: “What piece of modern technology can you not live without?”

The word that popped out to me is “Modern.” What exactly is considered Modern? It’s a relative term that is different for everyone. what might be modern to a 10-year-old, would most certainly be different to someone who is 87.

So to me, living my 55th year, “modern technology” could mean anything from computers to FitBits.

Let’s go with that.

Computers are a given; they have invaded our society so much that most people would have a difficult time adjusting to life without them. Computers have changed the way we shop, the way we are entertained, the way we live.

Personally, I would have a hard time living without a cellphone. It’s true; I lived a long time without one, but now that I have one, it’d be tough to give it up.

I feel more secure because I know I can rely on my cell phone if my car breaks down (if I remember to charge it), or if I’m going to be late getting home (try and find a pay phone these days), and I can contact my kids if I need them (yeah … right).

I know I could do without it if I had to. But I don’t want to.

I  broke down and bought a cell phone when my kids started buying them. My first was a simple Nokia. That was before texting or computer access, so it really was just a phone. But now I can fill the memory with apps that allow me to watch videos or play games if I get really bored (and now I have a tablet to do that, too!)

I bought an Echo Dot for Jeff for his birthday and soon found myself telling my mini blue tooth speaker to “Turn it up!”

It didn’t of course. It was then that I realized maybe I was becoming too dependent on my electronics. What happened to me? have I become one of those people who texts as they cross a busy street, or looks at their phone more than the person sitting across from them?

No way! But I’m not perfect …

What will happen to us if we wake up someday and find the world has run out of electricity to run all of our fun gadgets? (I think a TV show was created from that concept.)

Maybe we have to treat our electronics like we do any other potential addiction–use in moderation; be aware we have a problem; and learn to manage it responsibly.

Tribute

 

 

 

The challenges of living in a different world

My 80-year-old mother can’t understand texting, or Facebook, and wants to know what googling means.

She said that she sometimes gets overwhelmed trying to understand it all. “I’m living in a different world.”

She is. And so are millions of other people. Things are changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.

“Why do kids need to text when they’re standing right next to each other? Why don’t they just use their phone to call? What’s an ‘App’? Why do so many people want to “friend” me? Why do my grandkids tell me that they have to ‘google’ it when I ask them a simple question?”

My mother has seen a lot of life. She remembers the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because, she said, she was walking home from the Paramount Theater downtown and was crossing Green Square when someone started yelling.

“They were yelling ‘Extra! Extra!’ like you see in the movies,” she said. “That’s what they did back then. All we had were newspapers and the radio to find out what was happening in the world. Sometimes it took days and even weeks. Now we know everything in a matter of minutes.”

She said their first TV was not very good but they were in awe of it.

“We thought  it was the greatest thing in the world! But then I thought that about cable TV, too,” she said with a laugh. “Now I go to watch TV and there’s nothing on I want to watch!”

She admits that she is kind of leery of the computer. “I’m afraid I’m going to do something to make it crash,” she said. “I’m thinking about getting a laptop, though. But then I think, would I use it?”

My mother retired from Rockwell as an editor and said their computer took up an entire room. “We had to cut and paste our manuals, so we couldn’t make any mistakes,” she said, after I explained to her that we do all our layout for the newspaper on the computer now. “We’d get them done and see an error after they were printed. My boss didn’t like that,” she said with a chuckle.

“I had to input codes into the computer to get it to do anything,” she said. “One wrong code and it wouldn’t work.”

It’s almost too easy nowadays.

She said the only time she uses a computer now is to order things online and for e-mails.

“Does anyone use the postal service anymore?” she asked. And then added, “Probably why so many are closing their doors.”

It must be hard for her to watch so many things changing in the world. She uses a walker and has a difficult time getting  around. She just sits at home with her dog and watches the world from her chair. She has a lot of visitors, who fill her in on other changes in the world.

She confides to me that she has a hard time understanding her grandchildren and sometimes I have to translate, but then she laughs about it.

“I remember when…” is usually followed by a quick story of simpler times.

I often wonder what the world will be like when I’m 80. More than likely, I will be asking pretty much the same questions, “What’s this?” and  “When did everything change?”