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Does It Matter If People’s Past Is Brushed Aside By Progress?

Does It Matter If People’s Past Is Brushed Aside By Progress?















Time for an update on the changing nature of society and how we live, bearing in mind the continued progress of digitalisation.

These snippets are gleaned from surveys, questionnaires and commentaries written by the great and good in our journalistic regiments.

One that struck me strongly is that the age of chivalry is truly dead, and indeed, it has gone one step further. Until the past decade or so it was generally considered good manners to hold a door open for someone, offer a coat on a cold day or give up a seat on public transport to a woman.

That last one still applies to the elderly and disabled. The pregnant do not get the same automatic respect because apparently some people think a woman could pretend to be pregnant to get a seat!

The old gallant gestures are rejected by women as being sexist overall, and even, positively menacing and suspicious. A man holding a door open for you must be wanting something! Offering to carry bags is no longer widely acceptable and would be rejected by most women.

These findings follow the obvious (in some people’s minds) that manners generally have deteriorated and are not likely to improve any more.

Technology’s Benign Hand

Fewer people now eat as families at a table, either in kitchen or dining room. Many have neither a table nor a dining room. The room to watch TV is usually the focus for the meal, rather than family gatherings to discuss, question and inform each other. The television itself as the main viewing device is less dominant now as a myriad of other screening options become available in every room or on the move outside.

Even the kettle is apparently declining, with 1 in 5 homes managing without one, preferring coffee machines. The web in general and Wikipedia in general has replaced the reference book, especially the encyclopedia and dictionary.

The thank you card/letter is fast facing oblivion as people who still feel the need to say thanks for a gift or kindness prefer to text or email. Sending Christmas cards and postcards on holiday are already seen as rather quaint.

Reading actual books looked as if it may be overtaken by e-readers. However, recent reports that the traditional paper and board book is not giving up and is holding on better than people thought suggest they may occupy a bigger share of the market than old vinyl records do in their particular niche.

Carrying and reading paper maps has all but died out. Every time a new edition of the local phone book arrives, I can’t but help think it must be the last. How many people still look up phone numbers?

Albums of physical 5×7 inch photos has become a historical relic for most families. Cloud and digital storage has killed albums off, though there are risks in loss. But as somebody has pointed out, photo albums got torn, burned, wet in floods or spoiled by sunlight or damp, so the risks are less now.

It’s just that there is a joy in looking through an old album of family memories. My children loved it and now my grandchildren sit with albums of themselves and their ancestors.

So, is is that the digital age is a mixed blessing or is that I am just a relic of history, barely clinging on as my world is ‘improved’ all around me?

Have your say now ….

Older articles worth a glance:

How Technology Serves the Past, Present and Future, 14 September 2012

Some Things That Are Now History, Thanks to Technology, 4 January 2012

Is the Final Chapter of the Printed Book Beginning? 23 January 2012

Virtual Vacations Are Holidays of the Future, 15 May 2012

Radio: The Neglected Medium Set to Make Big Waves, 12 June 2012

Last Post for Britain’s Post? 21 June 2012

Will Your Digital Afterlife Make a Good Novel After You Are Dead? 10 September 2012

Could Computer Over-Reliance Be the Death of Us All? 30 July 2012

How Technology Serves the Past, Present and Future, 14 September 2012

The Way We Live is Exposed in Statistics, Data and Real Opinions, 7 January 2013

Image: US Department of Agriculture

  • lucienne

    Well I don’t think I was ever any good at looking up a phone book but I think that has something to do with the way it is arranged. I’m one of the transition generation from miles to metric, where everything appeared to get further away, people were taller, and food weighed more, but it didn’t really. As a consequence when I sew, or build I use string and let the salesperson work it out, I cook using my vision and common sense. I’m not old, or retired, I was just made digitally dyslexic by the fast advance of technology. 

    Most homes didn’t have TV’s until the late 60’s. Only 1984 were mobile phones available and only businessmen had them, now they’re so small it’s dangerous to put them in your back pocket. In the mid 90’a there was only one computer in the basement of a large government department and you had to have special approval to use it. I did a whole of government report and all the departments used disks and programs from Corel to Word had to be typed for the printer to publish. 

    As for cards being quaint, I never really bought one but have made my own but that’s for environmental reasons not technology, and I really noticed who cared about my mum after she died by seeing who sent her cards. 
    The reality is it’s dangerous to rely only on the Iworld because as I discovered when my brother acquired a brain injury, he wasn’t able to be located for ‘privacy reasons’ and when he was found any money in his super fund was eroded by administration and disability fees (ironic)  and we still don’t know the name of his fund. What is his password? who knows? after three tries it was blocked, no one saw all his emails and we don’t know what happened, or where his girlfriend moved to. If I hadn’t kept photo’s of him, he would now have dementia because he wouldn’t know who he was because screens are just a whirl of light to him.

    The other aspect of technology is it hasn’t reduced waste, especially not for government departments, now we have to do both.To get a form you have to go online, download it, print it, fill it out but you can’t scan it and send it back, it has to be posted. Try getting an email address for any public servant, or even a direct number, you just about have to be related. So the advance in technology has sped things up, yes it has sped up the pollution of the planet, increased the hole in the Ozone with every circuit soldered, and it has made people under thirty ageist but in a power blackout they become completely dependent on older folk they shunned as useless.