The Trouble with Constant Access – Gen X Memory Lane

This morning I woke up and thought “Wonder what the shit news is today?” And then I picked up my phone and checked. I checked Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. I got the bad news I was looking for, but also some funny dog videos and a lamenting author, as well as some political rants. Meanwhile my less tech addicted husband was feeding the cat and making coffee.

Know what I used to do when I woke up? Lay there for a bit. Look out the window and pet the cat. Look at my sleeping husband, or if he was awake ask him what we should make for breakfast. I’d contemplate whatever book I was reading, or what blog subject I should write on. Maybe I’d get up and write letters and paint something.

This isn’t my first blog. I’ve been blogging since 2002. This is maybe my eleventh or twelfth blog. And blogging used to be kind of fun, before there was more of a chance people who were reading it actually lived near me, or worked with me. Something is different about blogging these days and I’ve dropped off a bit over the years with it. Even though I enjoy it. But there are only so many avenues of energy and I’ve got mine going in every direction.

So what is this blog entry all about? What am I lamenting over? I have the choice to set my phone down and stop doom-scrolling whenever I want, right? This is not about weaning myself off of technology or admitting I should set my phone across the room so I get out of bed before looking at it. This is about things that are now lost and that Millennials might have forgotten and Gen Z will never know.

I’m not talking about what it’s like to anticipate some small event–not big concerts, or huge political rallies, milestone life moments like weddings and babies–but smaller things. Getting your news in a few cycles per day is one I actually really miss sometimes. I also miss what it’s like to let my mind rest more, and daydream. I have to make myself set aside time to daydream. I know that this could be viewed more as a “personal responsibility” sort of thing. I get it. But as I lay there in bed I made the effort not to touch my phone and it lasted about ten minutes before I caved, and despite the “personal responsibility” aspect of this behavior, I know for a fact I am not alone.

When I was little many phones looked like this and eventually I would be thrilled when cordless ones with push-buttons became a reality. It was a while before Caller I.D. was a reality though, so when it ran it was anybody’s guess who it might be!

There are some things that are lost to change, and that’s fine. I’ll adjust. We’ll adjust. Just like vinyl came back, and ebooks didn’t totally replace paper ones. Maybe there will be a club of some people who miss waiting for Wizard of Oz to be broadcast once per year. There used to be an anticipation of holiday specials – I would worry about them being on at the same time as my dad’s football game and him watching it on the one television in the house. Oh the dreaded drama of me missing my special if dad didn’t compromise and let me watch the specials! But we often did have compromise. I still recall that there was a time when the phone would ring and you’d have absolutely no idea who is calling before you pick it up. Sometimes when I am watching a YouTube video on my phone when I’m in bed I am reminded of being about nine years old and wishing for that very thing. And the ever-futuristic “video phone” that was long dreamed of by all sci-fi enthusiasts before the invent of the smart phone – now is just a fact of life. Amazing! Facetime and Zoom technology allows us to talk to loved ones who are deployed and family that’s far away.

I admit, technology has done some amazing things. I was just listening to a true crime podcast (podcasts also are amazing) today about the huge breaks in criminology because of technology. Technology to broadcast, take videos, publish books, these things are all helping to create more diversity in what we read, music we listen to, shows we watch. It doesn’t just leave the choices up to a small group of folks (mostly white men) to decide what is the “best” music and the “best” books and the “best” movies. It allows so many more layers and voices.

Other good things I like is that I talk to my sister more than years ago because we have so many ways to reach each other easily. During this pandemic technology has been a lifeline. Those things are awesome. I wouldn’t change it. I just want to find a way to balance more of it with my real life. How to find ways to

I realize this is all over the place, but I’m not going to go back and smooth it over too much – I’m trying to get my blogging vibe back, so I’m gonna let it ride.

What kinds of things do you remember having to wait for that were exciting? Or things that are now lost that you remember being a big part of growing up?


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