Following is a guest post courtesy Rebecca Borman….
When I listen to the car radio I often hear a song by Melissa Lambert called “Automatic.” In it, she opines “Hey, what ever happened to waiting your turn, doing it all by hand…It all just seems so good the way we had it, back before everything became automatic.” I really like the song, and I sing along lustily whenever I hear it. But, I have to admit that I don’t agree with what she says in it. And here’s why:
A few days ago I had occasion to open a bottle of wine, using my spiffy cordless wine opener. The cork came out of the bottle just fine. But, when I pushed the button to release the cork…nothing happened. Well, when I looked into the device I could see the cork spinning around, but it wasn’t going anywhere. It certainly wasn’t detaching itself from the device. I tried it repeatedly, but to no avail. I thought that this gift, which was probably a bit expensive, would have to be thrown out. But eventually I remembered the internet. So, I Googled “cordless wine opener co”… and before I could finish, the subject line was completed for me…”cork won’t release.” Obviously I wasn’t the first person with this problem. In about 30 seconds, I got to a site on which someone explained how to fix the problem. I tried it, and it worked. It was a very easy solution but one that I wouldn’t have thought of trying in a million years.
This incident started me thinking about how much technology has changed my life—absolutely for the better. Sometimes, it seems like magic. I can find solutions to problems on-line. I can heat up leftovers or make popcorn in mere seconds. I can pick up my phone and instantly connect with anyone on my contact list. If it’s too much to text, I can email or call. I can watch movies on Netflix anywhere in my house on my beloved IPad. This is all good stuff.
I’m of the belief that my generation is more able to appreciate this technology boom than any other group. Those in my parents’ generation were behind the curve from the beginning. Many of them worked hard to adapt, and they succeeded. But, it seems like it has been a challenge for them continually to play catch-up with change after change. On the other hand, my children’s generation is so used to the technology and to the speed with which it improves that they think nothing of it. They can’t possibly appreciate how much it has changed the world because it’s been around their whole lives.
But people like me, born in the 40s and 50s, know the before and after. When I lived in Germany, I didn’t own a telephone. I spoke to my parents perhaps once or twice a year. I found out about big things like weddings after the fact, either in one of those infrequent phone calls or by mail. Even when I moved back to the US, it was expensive to make long-distance phone calls, and letters didn’t get written all that often. I would spend a week or two with my family each year and I loved being part of their daily lives—knowing what naughtiness their children perpetrated or what they made for dinner. Then I’d go back to my own home and miss intensely that close connection.
Now, it’s a rare day that I don’t text, email, or talk on the phone with one of my sisters. Facetime lets us see each other drinking our morning coffee in our robes. We get to watch our children and grandchildren kick a soccer goal, execute a dance step, or smile for the first time.
So, unlike Melissa Lambert, I don’t long for the times before everything became “automatic.” I like automatic.
Note: In fairness to Melissa, she explains that the song is “about slowing down, taking a breath and remembering what it’s like to live life a little more simply.” I’m okay with that.