The digital age: Anyone else struggling to keep up?

It’s pretty mental the changes in technology we’ve seen in our lifetime. I can vividly remember the first time I sat on a PC to use the internet at secondary school, and I didn’t get it. ‘You can ask it anything you want!’ they said, to which I stared blankly ahead and thought about what I might buy from the bakery on my walk home from school. I didn’t really get it.

My Dad had a massive funky PC at his house, which we would spend hours creating calendars and happy birthday signs using Banner. Printed out on dot matrix paper, we thought it was the height of technology. We still have a few boxes of that old dot matrix paper with corrugated joins…it made really bad biro drawn birthday cards which my Mum likes to remind us of. I wonder when those endless boxes of paper will eventually run out.

My brother had one of those games consoles (ZX Spectrum?) with cassette tapes, with which he played ‘Colin the Cleaner’ and ‘Legend of Zorro’ whilst I was busy listening to Mel and Kim, and Kylie on my own cassette player in my bedroom next door. Plus of course, recording the top ten off the radio on a Sunday with determination of steel to get minimal DJ chat over the start and end of the song. Crooning away to ‘Too many broken hearts ‘ and ‘Never gonna give you up’, wishing I could be a member of the cast of Neighbours. God they were good days weren’t they?

As PC’s and improved graphics became more accessible- the Spectrum was replaced with a SNES and I could even be found whipping my bro’s butt Chung Li Street Fighter style and bouncing around on the platforms of Mario & Luigi.  Nintendo Game Boy brought endless Tetris fun, the simplistic yet addictive game that was years ahead of it’s Candy Crush time. Soon superceded by it’s advanced Nintendo DS, we were all totally hooked on training our brains and working out our brain age. I dread to think how mine has deteriorated since then.

Image result for street fighter 2 chun li

Whilst the bro was loving the gaming era of the eighties and early nineties…I carried on with those tapes. Except they became (for a very short time) mini discs. The mini disc player was swiftly upgraded to a CD player, which could ‘never break’…hmmm…well, it certainly made a nice change not to have to turn it over and fast forward to skip back a track. They said they’d never take off…much like the mini disc.

Unlike the handheld computers my husband likes to display in our shed-come-museum-of-technology, the CD obviously did take off and had a pretty good stint. It’s hard to believe my CD collection now resides in the museum, alongside the bags of videos and snail trailed games consoles. As a teenager, I’d walk to the local music store every weekend and buy the number one single CD for my collection. Needless to say there will be no music magpie-ing those memories. Sadly, even I didn’t have the patience to upload each CD to my iTunes collection before boxing them up – if I did, I’d probably still be there now, unmarried with no kids, just an incredibly strange obsession with 90’s one hit wonders.

What a good decision, because who knew, that now, even iTunes collections seem to be fading. With online subscriptions like Spotify, I rarely tap into any of my old music – I just hit search and stream direct to the Sonos speakers. It’s kinda sad for me, that girl who treasured every single CD on her shelves and would have nights of not going to bed until we (me and my BFF) had listened to one track off every CD. We obviously always failed.

Image result for ant and dec single

I have no idea where my music is now (well apart from Ant & Dec and friends rotting in the shed) – my iTunes library seems to have disappeared from my phone – and if I want to listen to anything it asks me to pull it down from the clouds.

Probably, because so much of my phone memory (all 64GB of it) is now decimated by my photo library.

As an old school photo lover, my role within my circle was always night out / weekender / day tip official photographer. I always had a few spare films and after I’d been to the music store each saturday , I’d be in the photography shop next door to pick up the latest set of pictures which had got back from being developed. A whole week I’d waited to see those photos – do you remember that anticipation as you ripped the sleeve open? Laughing hysterically at the good and the bad?!

I remember my first digital camera – it was clunky, and slow, and I didn’t really know how to get the images off it. A bit like my daughters kidi-zoom actually. The batteries (8 x AA) died constantly and it all felt so alien. I quickly upgraded it again, and again and soon got into the swing of digital images.

Image result for first digital camera

I suppose I have to acknowledge the benefits in advances in digital photography. Getting prints developed was a right pain in the arse, and not an efficient way of creating 10 good pictures (and 26 rubbish ones). Nonetheless, I still treasure every album and sleeve of spares boxed away up in the loft. I feel a bit sad about the death of the crap shots, because if we all only ever print the perfect ones, that’s a whole world of memories and giggles we miss out on one day.

As a result, I’m still pretty neurotic about developing photos periodically and putting them in albums. Otherwise, where are all these pictures going to end up? I think I need to let it go, because in this age, the quantity of pictures is beyond being retrievable. My kids will hate me as it is, as I leave to them in my will three hundred albums and ten boxes of ‘spare photos’. Or maybe, they’ll love me for it.

I’ve even (shock horror) stopped backing up my pictures, as last time I transferred my phone pictures to my PC I nearly killed it. I have to live safe in the knowledge that my pictures are in the hall, in an album. And, in the cloud. I think. Although last time I broke my phone, they said I didn’t have the cloud setup? So now I think I have…but my photostream has disappeared, meaning I can’t see my photos on multiple devices any more (that was handy). I’m basically clueless.

I remember my brother having some homework to ask the oldest person he knew what invention had the biggest impact in their life. I clearly remember our 90 0dd year old Great-Nanny’s response, as I sat cross legged on the patterned carpet of her flat, wearing neon dungarees – her answer? The camera. Over aviation, communication, medicine or television. I wonder what on earth we would answer if we made it to our nineties? It still cracks me up every time a kid tries to look on the back of a disposable camera to see the image; it’s mind blowing to imagine what the future holds, in our lifetime and beyond.

camera-nan

To be honest, it feels the photo thing is getting a little out of hand. A few weeks back we took the kids to a country park and I nearly passed out when I realised both our phone batteries were flat – the missed opportunity of images of autumnal family bliss in a gorgeous afternoon light. I had to laugh at myself… What exactly did I feel I was missing out on, whilst my beautiful family were right in front of me, making memories in ACTUAL REAL LIFE. Yeah, I missed out on some cute snaps, but they’d only be lost amongst the thousands of other shots of failed insta-moments, visual notes I couldn’t be bothered to write, and Christmas present idea screenshots. Get a grip Sarah.

The very concept of being without a phone is so alien. I guess those hand held computers did in a way take off after all…it’s almost scary how dependent we have become on technology. There is an app for EVERYTHING. Gaming, shopping, banking, editing photos, printing photos, writing this blog, counting calories, meeting a life partner, monitoring your monthly cycle, planning a baby, even timing your labour contractions, tracking your breast feeds. The next generation are truly being born into a different world.

A totally loyal Apple consumer, I’d never switch…unless it was for a comeback of the old Motorola Razr. Best phone ever. Or even a Nokia…Although I’m not sure how the kids would react to CBeebies app being replaced by snake. To be fair, they’d probably be pleased Mummy actually put her phone down once in awhile.

Image result for motorola razr 

We are still buying Movies on DVD (whilst concurrently trying to clear the damp backlog from the shed), because on occasion the kids favourite films disappear from the planner, Netflix, Sky Movies, Virgin on demand or Apple TV. It’s tricky to hand over to a babysitter when you spend longer explaining where each piece of viewing can be found and on which remote control, than you do with the kids tea / bedtime routine.

Basically, I have no clue where my music, my photos,or my films are. Or where they will be. As the two former items are my most treasured possessions, this sits very uncomfortably.

My heart may be heavy, but my shelves are clear. Well, except from being loaded with books…but don’t get me started on that one…

x MMT

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