Having been born to older parents, my grandparents were alive during the turn of the 20th century. They knew what life was like with very little interventions. They lived off of the land and lived in the same area for all of their lives. On the other hand, I was born in the early 1960s and have seen and enjoyed the many conveniences and advancements in technology over the years. How times have changed is evident when looking at the technology of yester-year and current times, especially in the areas of communication, entertainment, and commerce.
In the early 1900’s communication technology was not only limited but also relatively simple. The telephone was still very new and telegraphs were still being used. Most local communication was done by word of mouth at the local grocery or drug store. If families were affluent enough they may have had their own phone in their home, attached to the wall. A number of households could share a phone number or as they called it back then a “party-line”. To make a call, a human operator had to be reached to make the connection to the other party.
In contrast, communication technology is presently found everywhere and done in lightning speed. One can’t go anywhere without seeing another person talking on their cellular phone or texting a message to someone else. With smartphones the communicating possibilities are endless. One can send and receive e-mails, access the World Wide Web, keep a calendar, and accomplish many other tasks. Entertainment in my grandparents’ day was a rare and special treat. Having to work the land to get their food required long working hours. They did not have much down time to spare.
If and when they did, they spent that time with family, at home sharing stories, reading books, playing games, and creating new things with their hands. Church Carnivals and County Fairs were the big community events that everyone went to. Moving on to current times, entertainment is a common occurrence. It is found everywhere, from neighborhood cinemas to one’s own pocket. Almost every household has multiple television sets not to mention computers and video games. If the electricity is out for any stretch of time, people are bored and don’t know what to do.
Most get a steady fill of entertaining activities outside of the home including, features on their smart-phone, movies, video arcades, frequent planned vacations and whatever their imagination comes up with. Last of all, business was straightforward in the days of my grandparents. You could count on people’s word as truth. They said what they meant and meant what they said. Lawsuits were rare. Since most businesses were owned locally, their owners knew their customers by name and were delighted to provide quality customer service. Products were made to last forever.
If it needed repair it was gladly provided or the item got replaced. However, at present one has to be cautious about everything or consider oneself sued. “Mom and Pop” businesses are overrun by franchises and large conglomerate stores. Customer service has gone the way of the dinosaur. Products are either manufactured to break or are obsolete within a short time. We have become a disposable society. If something is wrong with an item or we don’t like it any more, we just throw it away. One is read the riot act if an item needs to be returned or exchanged.
Don’t even think of taking it back without a receipt. In summary, life was uncomplicated while my grandparents were alive. Since technology was in its basic form back then they had very few conveniences as we know today. Consequently they worked hard for what they had and were content with it. On the other hand, our generation has the most advanced technology ever seen by man and we are always dissatisfied and looking for something better and faster than before. We could learn a lot about contentment by turning back the clock and looking at life through our ancestors’ eyes.