In a few more years there will be few people able to recall life without the tsunami of technology to which we’ve all grown accustomed.
I remember being forced to sit for hours in the parking lot of Marcus Kiley Junior High with a fleet of other hapless parents when my daughter’s field trip to the Bronx Zoo experienced issues with their bus. All we could do was wait and hope that they’d arrive soon. There were no cell phones; we had no way of knowing there was a delay.
Teenage girls used to spend hours sitting in the family’s hall closet, the long stretchy phone cord extending from its home in the kitchen wall. Short of getting on your bike and pedaling to someone’s house, it was the only way to thrash out that day’s events at school in the endless detail necessary.
Years before cell phones were even a glimmer in someone’s eye, my husband packed up our six-year-old son for a walk to the park in the middle of a blinding snowstorm. A few years later they were off on another escapade, this time a canoe trip to the end of a lake. Ten minutes after they left a thunderstorm of epic proportions swept through. Both times I was left pacing helplessly in front of the window until they returned with smiles on their faces and adventure in their eyes. Short of setting the house on fire, I had no way of contacting them.
I even remember when the answering machine was a major breakthrough. Incredibly, now when we dialed, our call would no longer evaporate into unheard rings in an empty house.
There are downsides, though. A few nights ago at my fiction writer’s group, we were bemoaning the negative impact of technology on a good murder. Now an author has to remember that unless the story’s settings are riddled with dead zones or downed transmission towers, everyone can reach everyone else. There’s no more, “Oh no! I have to reach Zelda before the machete-wielding psychopath gets to her kayak!” In today’s world, Zelda is probably on the other character’s speed dial.