Where is my Flying Car?
2020, the new year has a ring of the futuristic to these old ears. If you’re a grandparent like me, you probably grew up in the ’60s watching The Jetsons on Saturday mornings. I remember being in my pajamas sitting cross-legged in front of the television eating a bowl of Life cereal while I imagined having my own jet propulsion pack like George Jetson. I was positive I would someday have a flying car like Jane Jetson. Most of us couldn’t quite imagine the year beginning with anything but 1900s but now we’re in the unbelievable year of 2020. We may not have all the fancy Jetson innovations we dreamed of as we sat glued to the cartoon, but our world has changed in the last decade.
There have been amazing advancements in technology during my 61 years of life, mostly positive and some with mixed reviews, yet the majority of us (I’m guilty) are addicted to our technology. Five or six years ago my husband and I traveled to a resort in Mexico where there was internet connection available but there was an expensive charge for it. We made the decision to not get the connection and to also turn off our phones for the seven-day trip. I can hear the gasps now, how is it even possible to survive without being connected?! Our adult daughters had contact information for the place we were staying, so if there were an emergency, they could get in contact with us. We couldn’t even watch television because all the stations were in Spanish. We made the deliberate decision to pretend like we were in the 1980s, a conscious uncoupling from technology.
Can you remember that long-gone era before human fingers evolved to form an attachment to all of our devices? After a short period of feeling lost, we ended up loving our tech-free week! We read real books made from paper, we laid around the pool with our eyes closed doing absolutely nothing, swam in the ocean and best of all, we talked! Think back, can you remember deep conversations without beeps of notifications interrupting and your companion glancing at their phone? We actually looked into one another’s eyes and focused on what the other was saying.
The vacation passed with no Facebook post to alert the world we were on vacation and despite (or maybe because of?) the lack of sharing every detail of our vacation with social media, it was a great week! However, my addiction level to my phone has increased in the last few years, and it saddens me to acknowledge I would have a harder time doing it now.
Warning – grumpy old lady moment coming up in three, two, one, now! I was at lunch with some friends last week, and we looked around and noticed three families with toddlers sitting nearby and every single parent was staring at their phones. The entire time. It made us all sad to see the kids sitting there visibly yearning for their parents’ attention but instead the cell phone was the favorite child greedily devouring the parents’ time. We all agreed we are very grateful cell phones were not as ubiquitous when we were raising kids as they are today. Yes, I’m being very judgy here but is this how kids should remember their childhood, being jealous of the attention a device gets?
On the positive side, we have valuable information available at our fingertips now. No more of the World Book Encyclopedias my sisters and I dragged out every night for homework. We can find out almost anything at anytime, and that’s fantastic. Sometimes when I’m reading a book, I come across a word I’m unfamiliar with and I google it. In the past I would have skimmed over it, but now I almost always take the time to find out the definition. So maybe my Smart phone really is making me smarter?
Another major positive change technology has brought is reconnection. Say all the negative things you want about social media, and there is plenty of negative associated with it, but it is a great way to connect with people and to reconnect with old friends. For some people, like a friend I have who is housebound due to disability and illness, social media can be a lifeline to socialization. I’ve found old friends on Facebook, I’ve become more connected with family members, and even found long overdue forgiveness from a friend via social media.
I remember a conversation with a boy I was dating in college, a conversation I’ve thought about several times over the last ten years as technology has made our world smaller. He was from Australia and was getting ready to go back home for summer break, so we wouldn’t see each other for three months. At the moment we imagined ourselves to be in love and he said, “I wish there were a way I could see you while I was gone, like a telephone where there was a camera.” We laughed about that far-fetched idea and instead exchanged slow-moving snail mail between the continents. Hmm…makes me wonder what would have happened with that romance if we’d had technology back then?
If you have a smart phone, you are basically carrying around a mini computer, a library, a GPS, and a camera all the time. You can read a book on your phone, you can have a chat with someone across the world and see them! When I was in Norway last summer, my Ring doorbell alerted me that someone was at my home in Tulsa, and I was able to speak to them through my doorbell connection to my phone! Is that amazing? We may not have personal jet propulsion packs on our back, but I’d say even the Jetsons would be amazed at what we do have!
It makes me wonder what the next decade will bring. I’m sure we will have driverless cars, and that’s an invention I am excited about! I’m thinking by the time I need them they will be perfected, increasing the independence of senior citizens immeasurably. I’m hoping research will focus on the important health discoveries to eradicate childhood cancer and solve environmental issues, but I’m also still holding out hope for a sporty little red flying car!