Old relics and new technology

By Dennis Minich

I guess the extent to which a person is either old-fashioned or a technophobe or technology savvy is a matter of perspective.

We all know about the folks who won’t give up their flip phones. Many of us remember when the flip phone was a really big deal and how it almost made Star Trek’s communicators come to life.

At one point the thinking on phones was the smaller the better, which when you think about it was a really good idea.

Cell phones started out in boxes, but then evolved into something resembling a World War II era walkie talkie. Gradually it got smaller and the idea became how to carry it easily. Considering a phone was a rather large monetary investment, just leaving it hanging on a belt or loose in a pocket didn’t seem like the best thing to do. Then came the flip phone which fit easily in a man’s front pants pocket or a woman’s purse and we saw that it was good.

But then the idea became to use the phone to text, play games, watch videos, then live television and finally surf the net. Then smaller was no longer a good thing, now it became bigger is better.

The folks who liked the size and convenience of the flip phone were deemed dinosaurs and everyone else were cool again. But, in fairness, not everyone should be judged by the size of their phones. And by the same thinking, someone’s desire for one piece of modern technology or another can be a choice, not a phobia or old-fashioned mindset. Yes, I have examples.

Recently I decided to use the search application on my rather large cellphone to see why some of my ice cube trays always crush up all of the ice, while others come out crisp and clean. This is not a recent problem. I have noted it my whole life. When I was young, we had two ice trays in the freezer, one always came out just as desired, the other always crushed everything up. Since most people prefer the good cubes, my dad was always in luck because he like the fragmented kind, so everyone won.

But I still have the problem. I have four trays: two come out perfect, one crushes everything and the other is a mystery. The answer I found to the problem was somewhat insulting: it said cracking of the ice was caused by “hard” water.

Now I know I am not the sharpest tool in the box, but of course it is caused by hard water… ice is hard water, it’s frozen to make it hard. How stupid do they think I am?

This whole story only leads to another story, which was I was sharing my discovery with a friend who about half-way through my story said, “Wait, you don’t have an icemaker?” When replying I didn’t, I got the look like people get when they pull their flip phones out. “What century are you living in exactly?”

Following that question, I made the major mistake of compounding the problem by saying I don’t really think I need one, just like I don’t need a dishwasher. It became immediately obvious it was not the smartest thing to say when trying to defend myself from being labeled a prehistoric relic.

There are some newfangled things you can buy, but I wonder why, like a digital tire gauge. Is it really that much more convenient than the old one that spits out the stick with numbers on it?

Then again, there are advancements that are pretty sweet: ice cream makers that can work in your sink, small flashlights which don’t require nine “D” batteries and of course, the remote control. How did we live without the remote control? And the key to living without a dishwasher? Paper plates, another great advancement in scientific history.

It seems the extent we use conveniences to improve our lives are in some measure determined by how much convenience we really desire to improve our lives. It’s like every time we get used to one computer operating system, learn all of the shortcuts and how to navigate… a new system comes out. And we also have to remember that sometimes technology circles back. Who would have guessed 20 years ago that vinyl records and turntables would make a comeback?

The moral of the story: if you like your flip phone, be proud. If you don’t need a contraption to freeze your water or boil your dishes knock yourself out. If you want a telephone the size of a wall to carry around, then that’s what you should do. But don’t judge, because no matter how high tech you get, someone is going to have something newer and wonder how you possibly can survive.

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