Alterations or revolutionary experiences in our sociality are good or bad depending upon how we adapt to them as citizens. So many things are disappearing, appearing, getting better or getting worse. We are being invaded by technology.
For example, the U.S. Post Office is slowly being replaced by Fed Ex, UPS, and e-mail. Our bills come online and we pay online and we don’t need an envelope or a stamp, or even a mailbox anymore. On-line finance and bill paying are replacing bills and even bank statements and notices, they come by e-mail. Even much of our junk mail is coming in the e-mails instead of the mail box. The bank check you used to mail has gone through a metamorphosis and become a Debit Card that takes the money from your account NOW!
Also disappearing are the newspapers on the front porch every morning. Now you aren’t stuck with just the local news, we can get any newspaper in the country for free, online. We can find out what is happening in Boise, Idaho, or even London, England, at the click of our mouse on the computer screen. At least they are free for now. That’s good in one way, we save a lot of trees when we don’t have to print on a lot of paper. But it is still nice to hold the news, clip the shopping coupons, and work the crossword puzzle. It was bad enough losing milk and ice delivery, but now newspapers!
The Book is almost history. There are at least half dozen companies now that sell the books electronically to one sort of reading device or another, and it can store hundreds of books to read. No more paper, covers, bookmarks, turning pages, or those dog-eared page reminders, just a handy-dandy doo dad that you can flip through at the flip of a switch, and the squint of an eye in the noon-day sun.
TVs (boob tubes) with roof-top antennas or rabbit ears are not longer usable … pure junk. They have piles of them at your local dump site. Have you ever tried to create a flower pot out of an old TV? Don’t. The whole country has switched from analog signals to digital signals that are transmitted through special cables from a special company, or are beamed down from a TV satellite to a dish on your rooftop. This all happens and occurs if you purchase a new-fangled, flat-screen, HD (high density) TV and hook it up to 250 channels. This is where being an electronic wizard or just being plain smart helps. If not, find whiz-kid assistance. Television advertising revenues are changing our watching habits and eliminating some stations and adding dozens more. In this case technocrats are aligned with admanrats.
Remember the old 45-rpm records, 78s, LPs, VHS vs. Beta, cassette tapes, CDs and the Music Industry as we knew them. Forget them. They have disappeared into thin air and micro-bytes of vibrations and vocal yodels that can be downloaded to your ear via computer, cell phone, and I-thingamajigs, and be spit through little ear plugs into your dancing mind and feet.
Land-line phones that used to have rotary dials, then buttons, and long lines hooked to the wall, are slowly becoming an encumbered relic in most households. Cell phones are the new rage and Star Trek means of communication these days. They can be taken with you everywhere in your pocket or purse. With the flip of a switch you can hone in on the nearest satellite in the heavens and communicate with anyone in the world. Even the Internet is available on most of these cell boxes, and each one probably comes with a small camera…so there goes the 35mm digital camera, too.
And check out the disappearing pay phone, and when was the last time you saw a phone booth. For seniors these little cell phones might be a good thing; easy to carry, quick contact with family and friends, easy contact to anyone in case of an emergency, and especially while shopping in the supermarket or mall to call a partner at home to see if you have enough ketchup in the fridge to make a meatloaf that evening. There are so many uses for the little box.
Smart phones are taking over. Everyone, and more than ever senior citizens, is attached to them like a life-support piece of must-have pocket-sized do-everything piece of electronics. They sleep with them on the night stand and have them in their purses or pockets or strapped to their belts. PEW research has determined the six of ten people over 65 have cellphones. They use them for texting and calling friends, surfing the Intranet, playing games, tracking the latest baseball or football scores, even checking e-mails. It is called multi-tasking.
It quickly is becoming a social tool and a cool and stimulating mania that works for us. Citizens want to keep in touch, I do and I am hooked like all the others, and it isn’t a bad idea for good times and keeping in touch with friends, and those unwanted bad times when help maybe needed. It’s just a few buttons away. I don’t feel all alone as long as I can text a friend. Some people even do business on them … heaven forbid for true and full-time retirees. Of course, semi-retired citizens can grab a quick and secret look at a work project without upsetting those around and looking on.
Privacy is history. Everywhere you go there is a TV surveillance camera watching your every step and move and projecting the image back to a monitor in some-sort-of headquarters to some-sort-of company or institution. You are a star, but just don’t know it. The key here is not to scratch when it itches. Think of being in a Las Vegas casino 24-hours a day. All eyes are on you. Even when driving some cities have cameras at stop lights that photograph you license plate and send you a ticket if you run the red light.
The key to these new systems is to adapt as a senior citizen, become a teenager again, or collapse under the weight of millions of micro bytes.