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We’ve come a long way, baby

October 15, 2011

It’s fun to speculate on where technology is going to take us as we stumble into the future at dizzying speeds.
Do you ever wonder what the next 25 years will hold? Just think of the advancements in the last two and a half decades. We saw the introduction of the internet, laptops, smart phones, iPods, kindles, GPS devices and cars that park themselves. 
This is space-age stuff we couldn’t begin to dream about back in the day when we were watching Barney Fife and Andy on our black and white television sets, and Mr. Potato Head was as high tech as it got.
I remember when my family purchased our first TV. It was around 1954, and we received only one station which operated six hours a day. High definition meant you could almost recognize Ed Sullivan through the snowy noise on the screen. 
My mother said television caused dangerous mutations so we sat so far away we couldn’t hear or see what was going on anyway.
Around 1970, microwaves began to appear, promising to cook a hot dog in 30 seconds. But they said you could have a heart attack if you looked inside while it was cooking. To this day, I throw a hog dog in the microwave and run and hide.
We’ve come a long way, baby, technologically speaking. It wasn’t so long ago that a computer was the size of five or six refrigerators.Now you can carry them around in your pocket.
What’s next? Flying cars? Or will we flit around in personal jetpacks and take vacations to the moon?    I hope they come with seat belts because it promises to be a wild ride.
Will we finally break the code for longevity and live to be 150? According to a birthday card I purchase recently, life expectancy for someone born in 1947 was 63. Oh, rats. I’m past my expiration date, and suddenly feel like a bag of stale bread.
I’m reminded of a summer day in 1969 when a man walked on the moon. We watched in awe, scratching our heads and saying “Gawlee.” My grandmother asked my grandfather, “How do you suppose they will get back to earth?” Papa responded, “I reckon, they’ll just turn loose.”
Will computer chips in our brains put Google out of business? Will pens and pencils become obsolete as keyboards, touch pads and voice generated memos become the norm. Will date night be replaced by chat room night?
I predict the demise of Hollywood, because all the movies will feature human-like animated characters.  They’re easier to work with and don’t demand big salaries. Every once in a while they will throw in a human, just to see if we can tell the difference. With no celebrities left to misbehave, Hollywood gossip columnists won’t have anything to talk about.
Things once an integral part of our lives are now facing extinction. This includes pay phones (and any phone still connected to a cord), handwritten letters, encyclopedias, “boom boxes” and many other things that have gone the way of the Dodo Bird.
I said I would never own a cell phone because  I like to be disconnected every now and then. But I bought one the other day that does everything my computer will do, plus take professional photos and give me directions when I’m lost. I no longer buy pants without pockets so I can be connected at all times. 
Have we become a society of super geeks who would rather give up a kidney than our Smartphones?  
There’s one thing certain – the future ain’t what it used to be.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at www.deludeddiva.com.

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