Keeping up in a Changing World

Originally published Jan. 28, 2013 6:00 p.m.

Times are definitely changing! I was reminded of that today (as I am most days).

My dad called me to ask if I had gotten an invitation in my mail to a family reunion coming up this summer. I told him that I was at work and had not been able to check my mail yet.

He proceeded to tell me that he’d gotten his invitation and started telling me the details about where and when the reunion is going to be.

Before the end of the conversation, he mentioned that I’ll need to “click” whether I plan to go to the reunion or not. That’s when I discovered that he was talking about an e-mail invitation and not an actual paper invitation, and since I hadn’t checked my personal e-mail in a while, I had no idea it was there waiting for me.

This is just one example of how communication and technology have changed. Instead of calling each other, we often text each other, or Facebook or Tweet them (and be sure to do it on a mobile device—accessing social media on desktop computers is so 2009!) Between friends and family, e-mail has seen better days—you know, like the 1990s! E-mail still seems to be commonly used in the workplace (but some people still don’t bother to read them).

control-room-tv-station
The control room at WAGT-TV in Augusta, GA on Oct. 29, 2011.

TV’s now have the internet built into them, and people feel empowered when they can watch their favorite programs on their own time instead of a network’s specified time. Some don’t even bother to watch an actual television—they simply enjoy watching videos on their mobile device. It’s like taking a TV, encyclopedia (what’s that?), internet, GPS, calendar, radio, drug store and phone book (again—what’s that?) with you in one little device. There’s a story posted today on our website about a traffic jam—no, not an actual traffic jam, but a smartphone traffic jam. So many people use them now, that there’s a worry the infrastructure won’t be able to handle the data demands in a few years.

By now, some of you are thinking, “Rich, where have you been—why are you even writing on such a trivial topic?”

To that, I would say—when I was growing up, nobody I knew had a cell phone until I was well into my teen years. A desktop computer at home was considered a luxury. Fax machines were all the rage (what’s a fax machine?). The internet and e-mail didn’t become widely used until about 1996. Since there was no internet back in the day, that means no Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, either! What did we do with all that time we had?

I remember when cable TV only had about 30 channels. Now, I don’t even have cable TV, but rely on over the air digital signals and content on my Roku box. Paper books are now dust collectors in favor of a tablet style digital book. CD’s are well on their way to extinction. Whatever will we do if we lose the ability to watch, read, or listen to digital content? Photo albums have mostly gone by the wayside in favor of storing digital photos on a computer, thumb drive, “a cloud”, or yes, even a CD or DVD. When I first started college, registration was done through the phone, and you had to pray the line wasn’t busy. Soon after, I was registering for courses online on a physical desktop computer.

I’m really not that old. Just think of all the things that have changed in the past 30 years or so. It’s astonishing. What will the world be like 30 years from now? It’s exciting and a little bit scary to think about it. Will the use of cash and checks be eliminated? Will there even be a need to ever step foot in a bank for a normal transaction?

What do you think about all of these changes, and how do you keep up? Or do you keep up? Are you one of those people who still writes a check in the grocery store line because you don’t like debit cards? Or do you wonder how much longer it will take to advance beyond using a piece of plastic (or paper) to pay for something? Feel free to comment below on how the ever-changing world of technology affects you.

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