Last week I met my daughter for lunch. We were interrupted several times while she quickly answered some texts from her boss. On the way back to her office she stopped at an ATM to take out some cash, while texting a friend at the same time. In that moment I realized how much the world has changed since I was her age. While amusing myself as she multi-tasked at the bank, I thought of all the things I experienced at her age that she will never know.
She will never have to get to a bank on a Friday afternoon before 3 p.m. to cash a paycheck, for she has never known a time before automatic deposits and ATMs. Getting to the bank by closing at 3 p.m. was a ritual I will never miss. If you didn’t get there in time, you could go the entire weekend without any cash. Both my kids take for granted debit cards and credit cards. They will never know how at one time, not only was cash king, it was the only king in town!
Waiting by the phone to ring was not an expression, it was literally what we did. It is something my children have only heard me speak of. Waiting for a special person to call is still fairly universal, but not leaving the house for fear of missing a call is another kind of anxiety altogether. My kids have the same universal anxiety, but the poor things have to carry it around with them in their pockets. If a certain boy didn’t call, my girlfriends and I would comfort each other with “He probably tried but your phone is always busy.” Back in the day, there was no caller ID, voicemail, or call waiting. So even if your long-awaited caller called, you would never have a way of knowing it. So we sat by the phone and waited, and if someone was on the phone too long “tying up the line” they risked a physical assault!
What a difference from the world today where you find Kim Kardashian talking on her cell phone while walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards. I just can’t help wondering who in the world she could be talking to at that moment that is more important or exciting than walking on the red carpet?
I think that certain technologies happened in reverse. Today everyone is texting on their phone, updating their Facebook status and tweeting. To be honest, I think it is a step backward. Why text when you can talk? Imagine if texting had come first? By the time the phone was invented everyone would say “This is greatest invention ever created! You don’t even have to type you can just talk right into the phone … instantaneous communication!” It would be more popular and more expensive than the newest iPhone, and it would be deemed the greatest invention of all time -- BECAUSE IT WAS!
Nancy Witter is an NYU certified Life Coach and stand-up comedian firstname.lastname@example.org