I’m sitting at my desk this afternoon and I started wondering when did things get so complicated? I’m only 64 years old and I don’t remember when it all happened. I’m sure its not from memory loss. I believe complication just eased into our lives so slowly that no one noticed. In my lifetime there have been so many changes and at this point I’m thinking it wasn’t for the best.
Case in point:
Telephones. When I was growing up (no the dinosaurs were not still roaming the land), we had one phone in the house. For the most part, everyone I knew had the same kind of phone. A black, tabletop, rotary phone. Everyone’s rang the same way, only the volume could be adjusted with a sliding button on the bottom. The volume was only for the ringer. If you couldn’t hear someone you, asked them to talk louder. Some of my friends had wall phones in their homes. Big, ugly, black rotary phones that usually hung in the kitchen.
Years went by and this was the way it was. Then changes started happening. Soon there were trim line phones. Soon those came in different colors, a mustard yellow, cream color and I think a red. The real big change was the princess phone that came in pink and light blue. OMG, what was the world coming to? Why soon people would have more than one phone in their homes! Wasteful, just plain wasteful, in some folks eyes.
OH, there was just one phone company! Ma Bell as we called her. Things were simple. Had a problem with the phone company and you just called Bell Telephone and Telegraph. You could even just dial zero and the operator would send you to the correct department. Yes, a real, live, talking, person! One that worked a shift and went home. 24/7 you could dial zero and get a live person to help you. I’m telling you no lies! Holy crap, we didn’t have to dial one to hear anyone or anything in English.
So the years have passed and now we have so many choices we have no idea which way to turn. I’m not sure if I should be picking a phone company first or the phone I want. To keep things as simple as possible I have stayed with the same wireless phone company since I purchased my first phone. That’s through living in four different states.
The first wireless phones came in bags that you carried with you. They were almost as large as the rotary table top phones from long ago. Soon the phones started to shrink. It wasn’t long before we had small palm size phones that went everywhere with us. Remember our little flip phones. They were so cool. Were we satisfied that we no longer had to hunt down a public pay phone? (If you don’t know what those are, go to a museum or Google it please). Well no, we weren’t satisfied. We had to have cell phones that do everything a large desk top computer does, only better! And the phone has to have a camera that puts my old expensive Canon 35mm camera to shame. We asked and we received.
Now I go to local wireless store, and there is one on every corner of the city, to buy a new phone. After all, my phone is less than a year old and it’s already obsolete, done, out of date, a dinosaurs, just like the owner. Then I have a snot nosed, 18-year-old standing there trying to explain how to work this tiny “Smart” phone and is talking to me like I’m the village idiot. I simply don’t want a phone that’s smarter than I am! Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.
After an hour of playing with the new little device in the store, I purchase the phone and head home. All the way praying no one calls me because I’m not sure if I remember how to answer the damn thing. Do I swipe the screen or tap it? Which is the off and on button and which is the volume. No slider button on the bottom. Then I find out if I have the volume turned up so these old ears can hear the ringing then the people’s voices that are talking to me are distorted. And oh holy crap, I can pick out ring tones so I know who is calling, no need to even look at the screen. Caller ID? Back in the day, caller ID was when you picked up the phone and asked, “Who is this?” Now days there are no surprises!
Now don’t get me wrong, I really do like all this new technology, until it doesn’t work and I have to call the help desk. No Ma Bell to call. No live person to talk to. No help at all until I punch so many numbers on my phone, the screen looks like the countdown of the national debt. If I have any luck at all, I will only be transferred two or three times. About the third time I’m wishing for a public pay phone or my old ugly, black, rotary, desk top phone.
I hate to even think about appliances and cars. They are more complicated than the damn phones! But that’s another story.