Every now and again I find myself marveling at how much my mom would have loved the ‘tech toys’ I enjoy every day. She was a computer and internet keener – learning in her late fifties and early sixties how much they would compliment her interest in genealogy and curating photographs. She had a difficult time with arthritis in her hands. I remember her last laptop had a stiff power key that she had to use a pen to push on. Her fingers would be too sore. I can just imagine how much she would have enjoyed a tablet computer! I’d say iPad but my computer genius brother will have many more ideas for android tablets. She would have filled it up with knitting and crocheting patterns, family pictures to touch up, and hundreds of subscriptions to newspapers around the world. She would be a pro at Facetime or Skype and would have loved to have a Twitter account that she could zap us all with ‘news clippings’ throughout the day. (From the time I moved away from home she would send me envelopes full of clippings on topics she thought I might enjoy.) She would have gone weak at the knees to see what Facebook offers and would have her favourite music on hand through iTunes. Her Kindle would be full of biographies to read someday.
Today I got thinking about how much the world has changed in what seems a very short time. Looking at my granddaughters I am intrigued by the possibilities for their futures… Things that would seem magical to me and useful. Like … ha! There’s a mind stretch. Like what? How can I even begin to imagine what might evolve next? This is where I have to admit that my imagination takes me in a different direction. I find I’m hoping for simpler communities with locally based food production and energy sources. I somehow feel that our future may be a world less dependent on electricity produced in mega power plants to power our toys and our tools. I’m also intrigued by research emerging about the ‘end of work’ – suggesting we have more people than jobs – and exploring programs like a basic income – or work that is not tied to pay. If people had their financial needs met and could choose how to contribute I think we might have more people growing food, working on energy projects, caring for the environment and running social programs. (Eventually the idea of ‘free time’ loses its glamour and people look to ways to learn, to create, to contribute. It seems in our area the underpinning of so many of our community organizations are the retired volunteers.)
When I think back to my grandmother’s life … I find parts of it very difficult to fathom other than in a ‘cartoon type of way’. She cooked on a wood stove – baked incredible breads in that stove – and washed laundry for a large family using a hand cranked machine. She was a grandmother before she ever tried to drive a car – and decided to pass on that opportunity after turning off the key while still moving forward and in Drive! She grew up without telephones and then as an adult could phone friends in her little village by dialing just four numbers. She made most of her own clothes and much of those of her oldest grandchildren. I never saw her wear a pair of pants until I was almost a teenager. And then only stylish matching pantsuits. I know there is much about my current life that would not seem at all foreign to her. But equally as much would truly seem something out of a science fiction movie you might see at the theatre in black and white. Technological changes – yes. But also major social changes. I wonder what she would make of my being a married gay woman with children and grandchildren? I think I know what her first reaction would be … but I’d find it interesting to see her grow with it.
Fashion, books, foods, furniture, appliances, health care, hair styles, news programs … change and change again. No wonder people dream and write about time travel. It would be tremendously fascinating to move in either direction! But especially compelling for me to go forward …