Do you remember the first car you drove that had the high beam switch on the steering wheel column instead of on the floor? Everyone wanted a new car so you no longer had the dilemma of which to do first – step on the brake or depress the clutch, or dim the headlights.
Do you remember the first television remote? How it came with a cord that plugged into the TV? You didn’t have to get up to change channels anymore, but you had to sit on the carpet in the middle of the living room floor because you only had the length of that cord to work with. Everyone had to buy new televisions that had holes to plug remotes into.
Do you remember when VCRs came out? You could rent movies and keep them a few days. Everyone had to buy VCR machines and new televisions that were compatible.
Do you remember when Hi-Fi stereos came out and how everyone had to buy new record payers and albums that were 33 1/3 speed instead of 75s? Or when 45s came out and everyone had to buy those little yellow plastic centers so the 45 would play on the record player? Oh, the grand day when those hard plastic pieces came out that allowed you to play a stack of 45s!
Do you remember when 8-track tapes came out? How you had to buy all your favorite albums again, in 8-track format. Plus the player. Plus a new radio for the car.
Do you remember when cassette tapes came out? How they were so much more compact than 8-tracks. How you could now record your favorite song off the radio. Everyone had to buy their favorite albums again in the new format.
And then CDs came out.
And then digital came out.
And then Kindle appeared.
Little did we know, back in the days of high beam switches on the floor, that we, as a society, were being trained to not just buy the next new thing, but to buy all the paraphernalia necessary to operate the next new thing.
Little did we know that we were being trained to become a throw-away society, and that repairmen were a thing of the past. That one day it would become cheaper to buy new than to fix.
Little did we know that we were being trained to forget how to exist without all the fancy new things. How to light a room without electricity. How to cook without an electric or gas stove. How to have warm scarves and mittens for winter without buying them.
An Amish man once told me that he had nothing against modern conveniences. He just didn’t like not knowing how to live without them.
I wonder what new technological advance is on the horizon, and what it will cause us to forget.