2009-04-16 / Community News

30 Years of Progress

When I was a kid, just 30-something years ago, I woke up to the sound of a tea kettle whistling so that my dad could get a cup of instant Maxwell House before driving to work. I walked to school, carrying my books until we moved and then I took a bus.

We had three channels on our tube TV and people were skinnier because you had to get up to change the channel. The one video game was a green blip bouncing from one side of the screen to the other. Playing outside for hours was preferable to watching little green blips.

Our telephone actually needed to be dialed on a real dial and long distance calls were a once-a-year family event. It was cheaper to send a letter. Our dishwasher was a top-loader which was used only on the holidays.

My mom didn't work outside the home until we were teenagers, so the house was always spotless and I never once saw dust on the furniture, socks under the couch, Legos in the heater ducts, or crunchy kitchen towels.

Fast forward 30-some odd years: A new day, a new age of technology that was supposed to make things simpler and easier.

I wake up to the sound of a digital alarm clock screeching whatever channel it was left on after a child had played with it. My husband left for work early, but the coffee-maker turns on automatically and brews a fresh pot of coffee even when he isn't there to drink it. How many times do I have to tell him to inform the coffeemaker if he's not going to be home?

Walking to school isn't an option because of the multitudes of dangerous-types lurking around every corner. If a child gets hurt or abducted, the parents are charged with neglect.

The kids must have a backpack to carry their books or they are considered underprivileged and are automatically put on the list of kids to report to social services if they so much as arrive with their shirt on backwards.

We have 5 billion channels on our flat-screen, high-definition, remote-controlled TV which comes equipped with at least six more boxes, each with its own remote control. These are primarily for manipulating the shows available in such a way so that we won't miss anything. If there were only three channels, chances are, we wouldn't miss a thing.

Video games are now so life-like that kids can actually get handson experience with stealing cars, shooting people, and being the tyrannical ruler of an entire country. With that kind of edu-tainment available, who'd want to play outside?

Telephones have changed as well. They are now un-tethered and "dialing" now involves pushing buttons; much like a TV remote. In fact, if you use your telephone in the same room as you view television, it is a common hazard to find yourself trying to dial the remote and change channels with your telephone. After yelling, "Hello, hello!" into your remote a few times, it starts to make more sense to handle your communications by e-mail.

The same technological snafu occurs when I try to bring my laundry to a boil in the dryer. What can I say? The knobs are in the same position as my stove.

Our dishwasher is run daily. In fact, I don't think my children know how to wash dishes by hand. Although the dishwasher is supposed to save time, it seems to take them longer to do the dishes because of the negotiations beforehand. Who's on load, and who's on unload. No matter how it turns out, I always find dried noodles and twist ties in the bottom of the dishwasher.

Most women work outside the home now. Some work two jobs and the so-called "Division of Labor" that supposedly occurs in most marriages. is just a myth. As a matter of fact, it's a joke.

As a result, peanut butter can always be found smeared on various surfaces, cupboard doors stay permanently open until I enter the kitchen, socks are not only found under the couch, but in the fireplace, the dishwasher, the broom closet, under beds, attached to the inside of sweaters & clinging to a ceiling fan.

So, too, crunchy towels are commonplace, even though paper towels are more readily available for Kool-aid spills.

As you can see, life is different, but not necessarily easier. I can hardly wait to see how "easy" my daughter's life is with the technology that is sure to be available when she grows up.

You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.

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