The Prehistoric Era of Technology Was Better…Right?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

When I ask you to remember the clickety-clacking & the dings our typewriters used to make some people suggest I am acting silly because they can’t imagine moving backwards to a place in which we give up the convenience modern technology provides.

They don’t see the connections between those devices as cleverly disguised fetters or electronic leashes.

Truth is most of the time I don’t see them that way either which is part of why trying to determine what cellphone to buy was of such importance to me.

I didn’t want to settle for something that only served as a device that would call or receive calls. I wanted a portable computer that had the ability show up two tomato cans connected by string.

The Prehistoric Era of Technology Was Better…Right?

I almost turned this into a list post of reasons why the analog age of my youth was superior to the digital one we live in now but as those of you who know me are aware I rail against the instant gratification society we live in and bad list posts.

Not that I am limited to creating bad list posts but I think of them as the province of the lazy and I am not lazy.

But since we are talking about lists and I am not adverse to breaking my own rules here are three things I don’t like about the modern convenience.

  1. Cellphone providers/plans– Many of the plans that are offered to the American public are created by the same geniuses who construct healthcare plans. They are built by angry lawyers/lawmakers and blind monkeys whose intent is to create chaos and confuse the consumer.
  2. Instant gratification– When we text people we have a misguided belief the other person(s) will provide an immediate or close to thereof response. When an extended period of time goes by (5 minutes) we alternate between panic (are they trapped under something heavy?) and anger (boy are they rude. I would never treat them so poorly).
  3. Memory Issues– Some friends used to tell me they couldn’t believe how many telephone numbers I remembered. I didn’t need a phone book because once I knew your number, I remembered. The same way I remembered lots of other things, some useful, some not so much.

The memory issue is really my biggest concern. It is like a muscle and if you don’t use it that sucker can atrophy and that is something I never want to have happen.

I hate when I don’t remember things I think I should. Telephone numbers shouldn’t be high on the list, but it bothers me a bit that I don’t always remember my son’s number.

I blame that on trying to be not just a good father, but a great one.

What Einstein Said About Memorization

While it would be false to say I spend lots of time worrying about whether a phone will truly impact my memory it does happen from time to time, like now.

I blame that on having spent a significant chunk of time trying to determine what phone to get because I did. Spent all sorts of time trying to make sure I found one that I thought had a reasonable price for what I wanted it to do and would not be obsolete five minutes after I left the store.

β€œNever memorize something that you can look up.” ― Albert Einstein

If I had been familiar with that quote during my high school days you can be assured I would have presented it to my teachers as proof/reason why we did not need and should not do homework.

As a parent I sometimes think about presenting it to the schools and educators who are responsible for overloading my children with homework.

But as it stands here I am using it in reference to whether I should be concerned about the damn phone and my memory. The net result is I have decided to concede the point to Einstein but only because it would be unfair to argue with a man who isn’t here to defend himself.

Did I Mention I Love Technology?

Have I mentioned yet that in spite of the downsides of tech I love it. I don’t love the costs involved or how complicated simple things sometimes become.

I don’t particularly like the feeling I get when something doesn’t work right and I have to spend hours figuring out what part doesn’t work and how to fix it.

It is a pain in the butt having to determine whether it is a hardware issue or software that suddenly decided it doesn’t want to work with the other pieces but most days I don’t have to spend that time doing it.

And I do it because I don’t like being dependent upon others.

If I had my druthers I’d take that approach to everything that required maintenance in my life. It would be comforting to know that I could handle anything the mechanic/contractor/plumber and computer tech can do but it wouldn’t be factual.

It is not because I am incapable but because our time is limited and sometimes it makes more sense to outsource the work to someone else so that I can focus my time elsewhere and that is the biggest part of why I love technology.

Sure sometimes it creates some unexpected delays and or hiccups in my day but most of the time I find ways to use it to be more productive so I have more control over my time and that makes it worthwhile.

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  1. Pingback: A Short Story About One Man & A Cellphone - Joshua Wilner

  2. Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Einstein was wrong. Let’s face it, we can look up anything so we wouldn’t need to remember anything under his Theory of Memorization. Why remember our own names? We can program our phones to tell us!

    I also remember phone numbers. Recently I had to call a childhood friend who still has the same phone number I memorized when I was 9. Yup, I remembered the number even though I hadn’t use it in many decades. But I don’t remember numbers since I got my cell phone, like my husband’s work phone number.

    Maybe Einstein was right?

    I also remember license plate numbers. I’m one of those weirdos who pays attention to license plates. I once identified a stolen car that way. I did a drive-around day with a Richmond city cop in college. In the morning dispatch called out a license plate number for a stolen car. All day I looked for it and I found it about 4 pm. Good deed for the day. I also was present at a shootout at Woolworth’s earlier in the afternoon. I asked the cop for a bullet proof vest and she said they didn’t have any. Oops.

    We can’t go back with tech. Even with global warming we won’t go back to horse and buggy. Ever. Tech and time march on…

    • Josh December 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

      @wonderoftech:disqus I wish we could talk to Einstein about this because it is clear we need to memorize some things, like basic multiplication tables. I’d love to hear what he thinks is or is not worth remembering.

      Does Woolworth’s still exist anymore? Haven’t seen one in years, I wonder if tech (Amazon) took it out.

      You are right, we definitely can’t go back and I don’t really want to, but sometimes I miss the ‘old days.’

  3. Ryan Biddulph December 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I have a love-hate relationship with tech, and life, πŸ˜‰ I hear you Josh and I must say that I go on tech fasts. Heck, I have no cell phone. I check email every day or 2. I vibe with the instant gratification, response thing and know that detaching from tech gives me peace of mind and helps me enjoy my travels…..until I attach to tech again, lol…..

    The thing is, I am blessed to have tech in my life. Otherwise, I’d have to wait until I was 65 to travel and prosper online like I do. Yet, I know keeping things offline and not having a cell phone and being unreachable is just as important to me, to live my life.

    I am in some ways connected, and in some ways, a cyber monk, living in a tech free cave. Neat balance, at times, when I find a nice mix between the two.

    This post was really neat, and it also made me think about writing on a typewriter as a kid (stop guessing my age everybody, ;).

    Thanks Josh!


    • Josh December 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      @ryanbiddulph:disqus There are definitely moments where I disconnect from it all, turn off my phone and stay away from my computer because I just need the break.

      I like the balance you described, not something that is possible for me to do today but it might happen in the future.

  4. Larry December 1, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I know what you mean about memory. it’s not being used in terms of phone numbers and much else because of phones. We have no need to remember stuff. You can always look it up.

    I talked about technology today as well – much different angle.

  5. Brenda Lee December 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Although I do love computers and my cellphone, I do appreciate retro equipment as well. I keep an electric typewriter at work just in case my pc blows up. πŸ™‚

    • Josh December 2, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      @justbren:disqus A good electric typewriter is worth holding onto. Never hurts to have something that helps you keep working if the primary tool goes down.

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