I remember being a kid and thinking about the future and how there was going to someday be flying cars, trips to outer space, robots that lived in your house with you, phones that weren’t attached to the walls, tiny cameras for everyone not just James Bond, and not only would there be computers, but computers so small, you could take them with you. I dreamed about those things, but I never thought they would actually happen. I was happy with my radio and tape deck player. Our giant TV with 3 channels was A-OK. I loved playing outside, climbing the trees, making forts, and mixing secret potions from the random plants in the garden. Taking family trips to the mall to go shopping for everyone was fun. We helped each other pick out clothes, shoes, new appliances, etc. Eating out at a restaurant was a rare occurrence, but when we did, everyone participated in the dinner conversation.
Oh, how times have changed. As new things were invented and became apart of our everyday lives, I have sat in awe as the future I thought could only be something I read about in a science fiction magazine was actually coming to life around me. I have watched as TV’s have gotten bigger yet thinner. We also went from having to get up to turn the dials on the TV to remote controls. I remember when we got our first microwave oven. My Mom was kind of afraid to use it. She told us not to stand in front of it whenever she did turn it on, but my sister and I loved to watch the food heat up inside. It was so amazing how fast it was. Microwaves were so huge when they first came out. It took up a lot of counter space. Another complaint from my mother. Now they come in so many different sizes depending on what you want to cook in it. Another big change in my life was going from not only having a washing machine, but also a dryer. My sister, Mom and I used to have to go in the back yard and hang out the clothes after they were done in the washing machine or Mom was done hand washing. Then once they were dry, we had to go get them, bring them in and then iron and fold them. We would all take turns ironing and folding. I loved ironing. It was fun getting all the wrinkles out. We’d all work watching TV or sometimes when my Mom was really tired, she’d read us a book out loud while my sister and I got the work done. Now there are washers and dryers that have modes that take care of pretreating, stains, hand washing delicates, wrinkle release, and making clothes fluffy soft.
Phones and computers are some of the biggest changes since I was a kid. We had one phone in the house. It was in the kitchen and it was attached to the wall. If you wanted to talk to someone, you had to sit in the kitchen and talk to the them. Everyone in your family could listen in on your conversation. If I wanted to make a call, I had to ask for permission. There were no unlimited calling plans. When I lived in Australia and wanted to talk to my Dad here in the US, I had to beg and it could be only once a month if at all because it was so expensive. Now, we have phones with FaceTime. Man, I wish we would’ve had that when I was a kid. I only got to see my Dad once a year at Christmas break. If we had had Face Time, I could’ve seen him all the time and likewise when I moved back here and never got to see my Mom. Now there are computers too. When I was little, computers were huge and only someone with knowledge of computer code could use one. Computers today fit in the palm of our hands. We take them anywhere we want. There are so many different uses for computers and the internet, WOW! When I talk to my after school kids about what it was like when I was a kid, they find it horrifying. They can’t imagine not having a phone. They’ve had their own phones since they were six. I once told them about taking pictures on family vacations and how we only took pictures of the really special moments because there were only so many pictures on a roll. I had to show them pictures of old cameras on my phone so they would understand. Then there was the waiting for the pictures to be developed and returned. It wasn’t instantaneous. Now whenever I take pictures of them, the first thing out of their mouths is “Let me see!” They know nothing of the horror of opening the envelope to look at your pictures and finding that half of them are blurry or you blinked or someone moved right in front of you when the picture was taken. You only got those chances once and you had to hope for the best.
So many things have changed bringing us ever closer to the future I dreamed of. Yet, I still sit here in awe that I can ask my phone a question and it answers me. I am amazed every time a new animated movie comes out and it looks less and less like animation and more like something real. I’m impressed with how cars improve year to year, though I am still hoping to have a flying car before I die. All these changes seemed impossible all those years ago. I don’t like many of the side affects caused by all these new fangled devices, like parents giving their kids iPads to keep them entertained in a restaurant instead of teaching them to sit quietly or learning to interact with other adults, but they have also made life easier in so many ways, so I guess I just have to take the good with the bad.