My paternal grandmother was born in 1897 in Switzerland. When she was in her early 20s, she and my grandfather packed up their things and their toddler daughter and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the United States. How scary that must have been. On the ship over to Ellis Island, she was separated from her husband and was down in steerage with her little girl for I don’t know how long. I would have been a big baby. She was brave, albeit very seasick. Grammie, Gramps, and their then two children (my father was born shortly after they arrived in the U.S.) ended up, after a bit of hither and yon, in Columbus, Nebraska.
I think of my grandparents often when I’m contemplating our ever-changing world. In the past 30 years, technology has transformed our world. Jeezo peezo. I just FaceTimed my grandson Cole to tell him that Papa and I are coming home for a visit very soon. I TALKED TO HIM FACE-TO-FACE. I SAW HIS SMILE. WHO WOULD EVER HAVE IMAGINED THIS POSSIBILITY?
What’s even more surprising is that this 5-year-old knows waaaaaay more about technology than his nana. As we’re talking, he is changing his face to different animals. I have no idea how he does it. Suddenly, I am talking to an animated dinosaur whose mouth is moving just like Cole’s mouth would be moving if it was he I was looking at. “How do you do that, Cole?” I asked. He tried to explain to me how I could do the same thing, but I was quite unable to do anything but keep my own face. I suspect it’s for one of two reasons: 1) My iPad is older than his; and 2) I am mostly inept at All Things Technology.
Grammie and Gramps saw many changes in their lives. There was electricity, and television, and air conditioning (or cooling systems as Grammie called it). Cars took the place of horses and carriages. Music changed from ragtime to rock-and-roll and rhythm and blues, and rap (though, blessedly, I think Grammie died before rap hit the airwaves). Swiss folk dancing turned into disco. On and on and on.
Baby Boomers have seen a lot of changes as well. Bill and I are watching a Netflix program about a man in Vancouver who refurbishes old cars. Most of the cars we’ve seen him fix are old 50s and 60s Fords and Chevys, Plymouths, and Dodges. I am unabashedly shocked at the size of those mid-century automobiles. (I don’t want to call them vintage cars, because that could conceivably make me vintage as well. Admittedly, vintage has a nice sound to it. Much better than Old Bat.) Like cell phones, the size of cars is fluid. They were huge in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They became very small in the 80s. The first car I purchased after getting rid of my 1969 Mustang was a Honda Civic hatchback. It was the size of a Barbie car. Nowadays, cars are bigger, more energy efficient, often electric or at least hybrid, and most likely an SUV. If you’re in AZ, the car is white. If you’re in CO, the car is black.
I know I’ve talked about this on my blog before, but it continues to fascinate me. My brother and I wondered out loud recently just what sort of changes we would see in 10 years when it came to technology. Chips embedded in our heads, almost undoubtedly. By that time we will be fully used to having absolutely no privacy.
Whatever it is, bring it on. After the past year, we can all handle anything. (Except figuring out how to turn my face into that of a dinosaur on FaceTime.)