Time, as they say, marches on. Progress is inevitable. Keeping up with progress, however, is a different matter.
Most of us, I think, are resistant to change. For me it takes a while, usually a good while, to adapt. And adapting to technology is painfully slow, like trying to turn around a steam ship.
I was late in the day on this cell phone business, for example. When they first came out and you had to pay for calls when you received them, I delighted in tweaking my cutting-edge friends by calling and asking whether they had received any messages for me. Eventually I came around and like most of us I now saunter city sidewalks with an implement the size of a cigarette pack planted in my ear staying in touch, demonstrating my importance and indispensability.
ATM’s -the cash machines-also took a while to get used to. I stuck to the old system: wrote out a check to cash, went to the bank and stood in line. Now I’m fully acclimated. It’s amazing. You push some buttons and cash appears. It’s mesmerizing. It’s better than Foxwoods. You’re a winner every time. You walk away from the machine with a lilt in your step and a Master of the Universe feeling. The end of the month balance is tomorrow’s problem. Today you have money to burn.
Even better yet is EZ Pass. You stick the plastic box on your windshield and you’re automatically someone special. It’s like a Get Out of Jail Free card. You approach a long line of traffic a toll booths anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard and you go right to the front of the line. You’re the Bob Uecker of motorists, passing by the great unwashed, unimpeded. You’re getting away with something and you’re never going to get caught. Who’s better than you.
Answering machines. They have become a prophylactics for privacy. People screen their calls to shield themselves from all callers. You decide when and if you want to talk to the uninvited intruder. While maybe it allows us to stay in touch better-we don’t miss messages as much-it does have unintended effects. As one client was kind enough to share recently, in the old days burglars would call ahead to see if anyone was at home. No answer meant the coast was clear. Now an answering machine, like when the clock strikes thirteen, leaves you up in the air. You don’t know whether anyone is home or not.
Convenience is the byword. [When was the last time you had to get up to change the channel?] But convenience changes your perspective. What brought that home was a recent conversation with a law student who advised she had never in her life used a typewriter. Never struck a key that pushed a lever that struck a ribbon that left a mark on a sheet of paper. Never.
She never pulled a lever from left to right that rang a bell and advanced a sheet of paper at 3:00 am to get a term paper done in time for a 9:00 am class. Never used carbon paper. Never used a gritty eraser and blown away the residue to change
this. Whenever she struck a key the results silently appeared on a screen in the font of her choice to be later proofed by spellcheck. Paragraphs, indeed whole pages, be relocated, reconfigured or deleted quickly, noiselessly and efficiently with the clickety-clack of a keystroke. She lives in and sees a different world where mistakes are quickly and easily corrected.
Convenience, the ability to do things easily and quickly correct errors painlessly has an effect at how we look at life. What effect I don’t know. I suppose I will be able to figure it out right after I finish playing Minesweeper.