Then vs. Now

I don’t want this blog post to be one those, “People are so inundated with technology these days, no one plays outside anymore, and no one looks up” rants that everyone nods their head at, but no one actually does anything about.

A few years ago, I would’ve written that post. I probably did. Now, I simply don’t care enough to tell people what they should, or shouldn’t, do with the technology available to them.

Me, or anyone else, telling you to stop staring at your phone all day isn’t going to accomplish anything. Preaching to a choir that has laryngitis is pointless.

We’ve been telling people since they were in Kindergarten to wash their hands before leaving the washroom and does everyone oblige? No.

You can lead a horse to a soap dispenser, but you can’t make them drink it. Or something like that.

So that being said, do what you want.

As for what I want this blog post to be about, I’m not really sure yet. The word “urgency” is creating thought bubbles in my brain and ideas are branching off of it. So I’ll write about that and hopefully by the end of this, we both know what this is all about.

For the last week, I’ve had a childhood memory on my brain and I don’t know why. So I’m going to release it here and make it your mystery to deal with.

In 1999, there was a new game show on television called, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, hosted by Regis Philbin. You’ve probably heard of it.

If you haven’t heard of it, then you are the weakest link, goodbye!

Sorry, wrong show. Shoutout if you still watch old episodes of The Weakest Link on YouTube, like I do.

Back to Millionaire, though. The premise was simple. Answer fifteen multiple choice questions correctly, win a million dollars. It’s every university student’s dream, really.

Imagine we walked into the exam room with the promise that if we got the multiple choice portion perfect, we’d win a sum of money? They always gave out scholarships based on what we did in high school, why not some sort of scholarship for doing well while in university?

I like big ideas. There’s one.

Again, back to Millionaire. The show was groundbreaking. It was the first show to ever offer a grand prize that large.

Up until then, all I really knew by way of game shows was Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and The Price is Right, which was hosted by everyone’s favourite sick day babysitter – Bob Barker.

The memory that’s been on my mind lately is of one of the first episodes of Millionaire. If I recall, it was originally on Sunday nights. At that point, the show had already been on for a couple of weeks.

I was watching TV in one room and my mom was watching TV in another, when she called out that it was starting. For some reason, it caught us off guard that it was on so early that day. But without hesitation, my entire family rushed to the living room and watched it together.

That’s the memory. It’s a small one but it’s a large snapshot of what 1999 was like.

I think this memory was triggered by me flipping channels a few weeks ago and coming across a recent episode of the show, which was hosted by none other than Chris Harrison – the host of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette.

I always wondered what he did the rest of the year when he wasn’t walking into rooms with his sleeves rolled up and saying, “Fellas”. Now I know.

That memory stands out to me because 19 years later, I don’t think that urgency of, “Oh my God, a game show where someone can win one millionaire dollars is on, I need to watch it right now” exists.

Please tell me if I’m wrong.

Sure, I’ll rush to the TV to watch sports, but that’s different.

Back in 1999, if you missed a show, you missed it. There wasn’t a way to watch it later, unless you planned ahead and taped it with your VCR. Even then, VCRs weren’t always foolproof. You could tape the wrong thing, or forget to rewind the tape beforehand and run out of space.

My mom was famous for accidentally taping the news, instead of a show. It’s one of the reasons why I control the PVR recordings in our house now. Everything goes through me. I’m the resident IT guy.

To branch off of the Millionaire memory a bit, I remember going to my neighbour’s house and playing the computer game associated with the show. We’d sit there and wait for the computer to start up, and Windows 98 would appear on the screen.

Then we’d play the game and try and guess our way through the questions because we were kids and knew nothing. We found it fun, though. Crazy.

Nowadays, I couldn’t imagine a kid going over to someone’s house just to play the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire computer game. Maybe another other game, but not that one. I guess that’s a sign of how things have changed over the years.

When I was a kid, a fun night would be sitting on a lawn chair outside, eating an ice cream sandwich, while my mom held an impromptu spelling bee between my sister and I, as we wrote our answers on small chalkboards.

Those were nights when there was nothing on TV worth watching and no internet available.

Find me the kid, in 2018, who is sitting outside at night with a chalkboard, spelling words. I don’t know that you can.

The way people – of all ages – entertain themselves is far different than it was 20 years ago. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m just saying it’s different.

Again, I can sit here all I want and say that kids shouldn’t be so dependent upon technology at such a young age. I can sit here and say that we’re just scrolling endlessly through posts from people we haven’t talked to in years. I can sit here and say that it’s a shame no one plays outside.

I’ve said it all before.

But there’s no point in saying it anymore. What does it accomplish? It’s not like we’re going to wake up one day and all decide to live like it’s 1999 again.

All this technology is here to stay. All of these social media apps that make you feel alone and self-conscious, are here to stay. All of these advancements that require access to the internet, so you can set up an account with yet another password, are here to stay, even if some senior citizens don’t know what the internet is.

I feel bad for my grandparents. All of this technological mumbo jumbo, is beyond them. They’re home phone doesn’t have call display, don’t come around here talking about text messages, let alone a Wi-Fi password.

Therein lies the problem with this urgent era we live in. There’s a disconnect. The younger generation walks down the sidewalk while staring at their cellphone, while the older generation stares at them and shakes their head.

I think that sense of “What are they doing?” enters all of our minds when we see people younger than us doing things we didn’t do at their age. We can’t help it, but they can’t help when they grow up, either. Growing up in 1995 is not the same as growing up in 2005, or 2015.

There are things we do now, that we’ll look back on in 10 years and wonder why we ever did them. Time moves on – some things are replaced, most are left behind.

Heck, I feel like we’re slowly moving into a phase where people start to wonder why they’re still on Facebook.

Perhaps we outgrow some things. Perhaps we just grow up. Either way, we live in an era with an endless supply of options for how we spend our time.

The cellphone has become the default time killer. Think back to your first cellphone and its capabilities. I had mine for three years before I sent my first text message. Pressing the internet button on it sent 1000 jolts of panic throughout my body because doing so would result in additional charges.

Therefore, pressing the internet button wasn’t an option. For the majority of the five years I owned my first cellphone, all it did was make and receive calls. What a weird thing for a phone to do, right?

I’ve only had three cellphones in my life. Each one acted as a giant step into the future. This trend will probably continue until food pictures become edible and you can reach into your phone and pull them out to eat.

You laugh now, but just wait!

I’m nearing the end of this post and still don’t know what my main point is.

I think all I’m trying to say is that our habits never stay the same. We evolve as the world evolves. Our behaviour changes because it needs to.

You’ve either heard, or said, “Back in my day, we had to walk up to the TV to change the channel”, but no one ever says, “I wish we still had to do that.”

Hey, I think I just made my point. I think.

You get what I’m trying to say, right?

With that, I shall stop providing words for you to read, thus releasing you back into the internet, the real world, or your dreams for a nap.

Fin

 

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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21 Responses to Then vs. Now

  1. markbialczak says:

    Sometimes I do say ‘I wish it was still like that,’ Paul. But I know it’s wistful thinking about a past that I may be romanticizing more than a bit. That plays a role in all of this as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’m the same way, Mark. Part of me feels like things were good how they were and we don’t need all of this extra technology, but I also understand that the world will always advance and we have to adjust.

      Like

      • markbialczak says:

        Yes, I know that is the case, Paul. That doesn’t stop me from weighing the pros and cons and sometimes deciding ‘just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.’

        Like

  2. Cody Stroup says:

    I think this article can be rewritten every ten years or have been written at just about any point in the past and it well still have relevancy. Things change and the older generation subtly (or not so subtly) complains about it, when in reality they are glad things have changed. Whether they (we) want to admit it or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just to focus on the smallest of details in this well-written post, when I was in Ottawa over the weekend, I actually DID watch an episode of the weakest link on youtube with the people I was staying with – old school commercials and everything!! I said I’d stay awake to watch the first 10 minutes and I ended up watching the whole thing with them. While the show was pretty amazing, the commercials were honestly the best part of it all – but that honestly could have been the over-tired me making that decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ely says:

    It really is pointless… ranting about how technology is completing taking over the younger generations and they’re just not as Quick or WITTY or reactive or BRIGHT as the older generations are (that’s a very BROAD analysis but still I firmly believe it to be fairly accurate). I’m not a fan of it all. Do my kids play Minecraft and watch YouTube videos? Obviously. I can’t hide it from them. Times have changed. But they spend more time in a pool or outside having Nerf Gun Wars and playing basketball with neighbors and riding bikes or doing OTHER THINGS. I think it’s so important. And I’m proud to say my daughter now owns an actual journal and I’ve encouraged her to write a short story every day in it. I’m so excited and hope she loves to write just like I did at her age. There are so many other ways to keep our kids entertained…. but to each his own. We don’t judge. I love how you sometimes
    Start your posts like HIII I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IM GONNA WRITEEE and then the end is like ok SO YEA! I wrote something awesome! Yesss! Lol 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Haha these young up and comers will never be as quick or witty. They’ve got their pre-made memes ready to go. We’d smoke them in a joke off (kinda like a rap battle but with jokes, and lets dark shadows – we would have it during the day). I also think parents have a big influence on what their kids are exposed to. You’re definitely the cool mom on the block (I saw those birthday party pic, has the Queen of England hired you for her bash yet?) so it doesn’t surprise me your kids are getting the complete childhood experience lol.

      Here’s a secret, I start writing my posts based on one sentence of an idea and keep writing until my post looks beefy and convincing haha but don’t tell anyone

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ely says:

        Your secret is safe with me, 😂!!! And thank you so much! It’s 100 percent based on how parents choose to raise their kids. We aren’t perfect, but we do our best to guide them in the right direction. Also- there were 3 hospitalizations as a result of that party. Yea.
        More.
        To.
        Come. Lol!!! That post is in the making.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        THREE. Hahahaha I don’t know why I’m laughing. Can’t wait!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. hemetshe says:

    Haha, very fun. I like your writing style, casual, conversational, relatable. Even more so, I like your headline, ‘Something to discuss at the dinnertable’. That what this posts felt like, dinner with an old friend. To your point, I have a 14 year old step son and and a 9 month old son. Being born after 2000 they will never recall a time that did not include flatscreen everything. The 14 year old has lost almost all interest in the darn thing. Why, I could not tell you. Although I suspect it was during a time in the last 2 years where he goofed badly and lost his phone privileges and found out how boring he was. Perhaps that sounds cruel? I don’t think so. If you’re really bored, alone by yourself, you are boring. I suspect too that despite the ready accessibility of technology that they can only escape into another world for so long before they inherently must face who they are… that’s the end of that story. It isn’t but we are still living the rest, the part where he gets interesting. Regardless, it’s a fascinating journey to observe and maybe rekindles my hope for him. Being bored is okay. Realizing you’re boring is crappy. Becoming interesting takes gusto and I think he might be tapping into it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the compliment! I find that conversation blog posts are just better for everyone and more fun. Wow, he’s lost interest in it huh? Well, on the bright side maybe he’ll find new interests and learn things about the world that screens won’t offer. Might give him an edge over other kids his age. Thanks for the comment, I look forward to interacting more with you between our two blogs!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lee Dunn says:

    Paul, I would like to say that when I read your posts, I read them through to the end. You’re good at holding peoples interests, I miss a lot of everyone’s posts because I don’t go through my reader enough. And I have found a way to shut off the emails from WordPress notifying me of everybody’s posts because it became just too much volume and clogged up my inbox. So I go to the reader and choose to read the sites I follow, as time and stamina allows. Please keep up the good work, and this was a great perspective on our evolving relationships with technology.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wendy Weir says:

    Preaching to a choir that has laryngitis is a killer twist on the old adage. May I borrow it?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Myka says:

    “You’ve either heard, or said, “Back in my day, we had to walk up to the TV to change the channel”, but no one ever says, “I wish we still had to do that.”
    Hey, I think I just made my point. I think.”

    Definitely a great way to wrap this up. I often find myself looking at your adults today and asking myself how I would have survived had I had all of those social pressures as a kid. It was tough enough seeing your crush put someone else in their My Space top 8. I cannot imagine constant contact with Facebook and Instagram in the palm of my hand. I think I should have cried a lot more… .xo.

    Liked by 1 person

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