Senior Center Writers’ Group – “Changing Times”
By Lois Hosmer
Change happens, like it or not. It is the one constant in life. There was a time we change unfolded slowly, but with each passing year the pace has accelerated. The devices that have come and gone in the past few years boggle the mind.
A few years ago I visited the Collings Museum in Stow. It was filled with a fascinating array of bygone cars, planes, military vehicles, and even the clothing that matched the period cars. This was all eye catching. The one item that piqued my interest most, however, was a modern invention—a flying car. With its wings folded against the side of the vehicle, it looked like many small sporty cars. It was a 2-seater and had a dashboard with far more dials and gadgets than a regular car. When used as a plane, it had to take off from an airport, not the road. It was being manufactured in Woburn and priced as $250,000. Since then I have heard and read about a variety of attempts at perfecting different versions of flying cars: helicopter types, pontoon versions for landing on water, and others. The Jetsons have arrived!
Technological devices have become part of everyone’s life: computers, mobile phones with all kinds of apps, iPads, to name but a few. I am amazed and bewildered by what they can do. FaceTime on a variety of devices is a wonder. The fact that landlines can call cell phones and vice versa is a puzzle. One change this has brought about I don’t like. More people are now using cell phones only so there are no more phone books to look up a number. I find it frustrating.
Another change that I find very helpful is the ability to order whatever you need online or through the myriad catalogs that stuff everyone’s mailboxes. There are far fewer reasons to head to a mall or even a store. This change gets my endorsement. I do my grocery shopping online and it is delivered to my kitchen table: no lugging bundles, no hassles in the aisles, less impulse buying.
Family life has changed, too, as time has passed. Once neighborhoods consisted of families who had been in that area for several generations. There was a cousin on every corner. Now people are constantly on the move. Where the jobs are is the driving force behind the change and it has its good and bad aspects. The ability to find the kind of work and pay that a person desires is a wonderful development, but often entails leaving family behind. Family becomes only a holiday celebration, a wedding, or a funeral event. It leaves people a bit untethered.
Credit cards, debit cards, the ability to deposit a check with your phone are great conveniences. The lack of cash in your pocket no longer need be an issue as long as you have a card in your wallet. This can be dangerous as impulse buying is easier, but the absence of worry about not having cash available for a needed purchase is a boon.
On balance most of these innovations are helpful and have made life easier. People are freed up to pursue their own interests in a way that was not possible when work and personal duties took up all a person’s time.