I saw my first Star Wars movie almost 40 years ago in 1977 when my brother demanded I go with him to see it adn I fell in love. It wasn’t “A New Hope” then it was just Star Wars. I was thinking how much has changed since then in the world besides the name of the franchise.
There were no cell phones, just land lines. We had two phones at home, one upstairs in my parent’s bedroom and one in the breakfast room where we ate all our meals. We all ate dinner every night together or else even when I was in college and then working before I went back to college because retail sucked.
You had no privacy on the family phone and you had better not make a long distance call without telling mom. There was no other way to tell someone there was a change in plans or arrange a date. There was no way to get a private phone call because anyone in the family that wanted to could listen at least to your end. So you got to deal with comments, teasing and questions you might not want to answer.
If you had to turn in a paper in college it was either typewritten or hand written. There was no quick self editing word program. No spell check except the dictionary. No easy look up on the internet. No fact checking other than what you could notate in the library from books found in the card catalogue. I didn’t buy my first pc until 1994 and it cost me $1500 for the top of the line 152mb HP. I get emails at work that have more mb now.
If your car broke down you better find a pay phone to call AAA or you were screwed and out of luck. And you better hope no one had stolen the phone book from the pay phone or hope the operator could help you locate the party you needed.
We had friends that visited from New Zealand and I wasn’t home and my little sister took the message that they wanted to see us when my parents were in Europe and told her they were at the CON-es-tuh-guh Inn in Anaheim. This lead to a very funny phone conversation with the operator in Anaheim because there was no hotel that was named that until she finally figured out that they might mean the Conestoga Inn, which any America would pronounce Con es TOGA like the pioneer wagons. Then we could get the address but you could at least talk to someone to figure it out. No Google maps or online search to find something many miles away.
Also in 1977 no one had an answering machine. If you weren’t home, you didn’t get the message or know when someone wanted you. If you needed a ride home you better hope someone was there to take the call or you might be walking home which I did, a lot.
When I was working at the Girl Scouts, one of our Board members donated his old company’s pcs and that was my first taste of using a computer and I fell in love. I was doing the Council newsletter by hand every month including graphics. An obsolete skill that has passed away with the dodo. No more blue lines and exacto knives and painstakingly drawn graphics and typewritten and hand corrected originals. I could at least mock up a page of writing more easily. And everything on a dot matrix printer. But everyone except for my wonderful secretary, Lillian was scared to touch anything on the computer even the accountant who would really have benefitted but was convinced technology including our copy machine was out to get her.
When I did Workers Comp at the state in 1980’s we had two computers that had access to the state intranet and no internet. At our desks we had mainframes with monitors that were black and orange and nothing else, when they finally upgraded just before I left so many adjusters were terrified of using them they installed Microsoft’s Solitaire to try and get people more comfortable using a computer. I thought this was hysterical because my lover at the time had a pc and we were using, Word, DB2 to catalog herb properties for my incense making and playing D&D on the computer, still in black and orange but more complicated than the work stations.
I’ve never had a fear of technology. I may wait a bit to see if it’s going to be usable and not immediately become obsolete like 8 tracks and beta vhs and video discs. I have retired my ipods in favour of using my Kindle Fire. I never got an Ipad because I knew Amazon would come out with one that was cheaper and has more content.
The world has changed so much in the last 40 years. Some things are easier but a lot of things, facebook not withstanding, have gotten less personal. I do like the ease of texting and it makes my little introvert heart happy to do it instead of phoning but it is less personal. I miss letters but I admit to hating to try to write legibly enough to send one. The days of 20 page handwritten letters to a lover on notebook paper are dead and gone.
But sometimes I think about all the skills I have gained in my lifetime that are completely obsolete and it’s a little sad.