I love technology – we owe our entire lifestyle to modern technology, and we’re grateful for it every single day. The internet allows us the amazing flexibility of working from home – and I would never ever have considered home educating four children without the world wide web at my (and their) fingertips.
Not just for their unbelievably busy gaming social lives, but for the knowledge that is right there for the looking, and the portal to literally anywhere they want to go, right in their own bedrooms.
But along with a passionate love of the freedoms it gives, there’s a small part of me that misses some of the things our modern technological lives have seen fit to replace. Here’s my top ’10 Things Killed By Technology’ – unashamedly nostalgic memories of just a short time ago when life was lived in such very different tiny ways…
1 – The way we shop: Simply gone are the days when you went into a shop, saw what you wanted, popped it in your basket and headed for the till. If you didn’t see what you wanted then you left the shop, walked up the high street and tried a different shop. It probably took a whole afternoon just to find the right shoes.
Now, inside five minutes of deciding what I need I can have checked the reviews to see what others thought of it, checked countless shops for the best price, checked for any available offers or coupon codes, compared shipping costs and delivery times… and when I hit buy I’m absolutely confident that I got the best deal available to me.
2 – Watching TV: remember the days when you watched a show when it was… on? Knowing not to ring your Nan at 7.30 on a Wednesday because Emmerdale/Coronation Street/Eastenders was on, and she wouldn’t answer? And if you were going to be out, then putting a tape into the VHS and working your way through the whole set-it-to-record process (and thereby missing the first or last 5 minutes, or recording a documentary on canal boats instead…). TV marches to our tune these days – catch-up, streaming, Sky+ and it’s siblings. It’s hard to recognise a time when you would arrange your life around a tv show.
3 – Using the telephone: I used to have family and friend’s telephone numbers in my head. I wasn’t alone; you just did – you didn’t want to have to pull out the phone book when you wanted to ring Miranda and see if she wanted to go down town – you just knew her number (to bash out, number-by-number; no speed dialling, obvs). Along with the numbers of your entire group of friends, your whole family and the doctors, vets and school.
This one falls in the same category as needing a yellow pages, ‘cheap’ phone calls after 6 p.m. and carrying change for a pay phone.
4 – Warming milk in a saucepan: I know, it’s slightly odd. But I was having trouble sleeping this week, and decided to just get up and make myself some hot milk. But I didn’t want to disturb the rest of the house sleeping as they should at 2 in the morning, so I pulled out a saucepan rather than beeping away at the microwave. And I wondered when the last time was I had done this – the microwave has replaced small saucepans, and means I can defrost meat (when I’ve forgotten to plan dinner again), soften butter, re-heat cold coffee and a million other small things that used to be on the stove.
5 – Using recipe books: This is a slight misfit – of course I do still have (and regularly use) recipe books. But I have probably just 3 or 4 which are my stalwart favourites for staple recipes. Five days out of seven, I’m cooking with my tablet propped on the kitchen counter, using the internet as the biggest recipe book in the world – not only to find the food to cook, but to check ingredients, read other cooks tips on the results, and of course to answer the important questions like ‘what-will-happen-if-I-don’t-have-powdered-coconut’ or ‘can-I-use-demarara-instead-of-soft-brown’.
6 – Writing: Our local education inspector came to see us last year, as they do when you home educate, just to see if all’s well and you’re not keeping the children in a cupboard or anything. We discussed handwriting briefly, and he was very nonchalant; “as long as the writing is legible, don’t worry about it. Pretty much the only person they’ll ever hand write for is themselves”.
I was a bit shocked – but realised it was true. I LOVE writing with a pen or a pencil. But the only time I do so is in my own notepad, for myself. I write copious scrawlings and scribbles – but just for me, never for anyone else to see.
Handwritten letters – we all love to receive them, but how many of us take the time to actually send them? And postcards – the very notion is archaic, when folks at home can happily view your thrice daily photo updates of your entire holiday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram *cough*. And of course leave politely admiring comments instantly.
7 – Writing Cheques: In fact, even cash is changing – I go weeks at a time with no cash in my purse. The husband simply carries a bank card in his phone case most days. Remembering my Mum standing at the checkout and rummaging in her capacious handbag to pull out her cheque book (in its own case, of course) and pen to pay for the shopping makes me feel about 7 again. I simply cannot remember the last time I wrote a cheque…
8 – Photographs: Not photography, obviously. We’re all taking more photographs than ever, the world is filled with imagery as has never before in the history of society been possible.
But actual photographs, that are developed by someone else and glossy and shiny on thick photo paper and come in packs of 36 in a special envelope? I miss them.
9 – Listening to an album: You saved up for it, you took it home, and you listened to it. If it was an LP, you had to turn it over half way through (and you always had a favourite side). If it was a CD, you enjoyed the booklet that was inside the case as the album played through to the end.
I can’t remember the last time I listened to an album of music. I buy them – but they go into iTunes, I leave it on random, and play when I fancy it. Play any song by The Who, and the husband can tell you which album it came from, and no doubt describe the cover art too. I received two albums for Christmas, just 4mths ago. I couldn’t tell you what the album was called, or which songs were on it – despite knowing I’ve listened to them frequently.
10 – Reading: Now obviously we still read the same way; y’know, find a book we fancy, start at the beginning, then hopefully stick with it all the way to the end. But eReaders have changed our consumption. I know I’ll personally try all manner of things I wouldn’t normally because they’re free or 99p on kindle. And yes I used to browse library shelves, but I only have a teeny tiny rural library at my disposal that’s only open for 6 minutes a week, on a full moon (or something). If I finish my book at 9 in the evening, and there’s still football on the tv, I can browse and choose a new read and be reading it by 9.10.
Buying digital books is cheaper, they don’t waste paper, they don’t need storing on endless bookcases… and I can take 30 books away on holiday with me without one thought for the space or weight of them.
(but yes, before you get shouty, I still love ‘real’ books too…)
How about you – what else would you add? What warm and fuzzy and utterly useless bit of nostalgia do you find popping up in your everyday life?
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