Is it just me, or is the world really changing so much faster than ever before? It seems that as soon as I master a new technology, it becomes obsolete. As soon as I learn the latest lingo, it is no longer used, and I barely have time to wrap my head around the latest tragedy in the news before it it is followed by another one, usually even more awful. I really don’t want to be one of those old people who is always saying, “things were so much better back in my day,” but there are times when I really do feel that way.
My husband and I were eating dinner at a restaurant the other night, and I couldn’t help noticing the table of eight young women who were seated next to us. (I admit, I am hopelessly nosy.) They were all dressed up for a festive night out, but their table was eerily quiet, because each and every one of them was staring intently at her cell phone. Of course it was possible that they were all looking something up that had to do with their night out together, but they weren’t. Craning my neck, I could see that two of them were scrolling down their Facebook news feeds and another was texting a friend. (I told you I was nosy.) And they all seemed to think that ignoring the people they were with and looking to their cell phones for entertainment was perfectly normal.
Living our lives on-line is the new normal for most people, even in my own family. My daughter routinely posts photos of our family gatherings on Facebook, sometimes while they are still going on. New parents post tons of pictures of their babies and children on social media, usually in good taste, but not always. I can’t help thinking that the moms who put up the photos of their toddler on the potty are going to have some explaining to do someday.
But one way or another, I am most certainly not living in the world in which I was raised. And there are times when I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the changes, and feel nostalgic for the “good old days.” But then I remind myself that change is inevitable, no matter how quickly it comes, and that it’s not always a bad thing.
Families change significantly, with the older generations passing away and leaving us with only the precious memories of our time together. But that is balanced as the family gains wonderful new members as people marry into it and new generations are born. The latest technology may be challenging to keep up with, and only time will tell the true effects it has on individuals and society as we become ever more dependent on it and have less and less need to think for ourselves. But the latest technology also routinely saves lives in hospitals across the world, and enable us to stay in close contact with friends and relatives, no matter where they live.
I may be a bit fascinated by the past, but I sure don’t want to go back and actually live during the time before air-conditioning, antibiotics and automobiles were invented. In many ways, the “good old days” weren’t always so good. Like most people, I remember the good things and gloss over the bad.
So when I find myself feeling a bit cranky about all the changes around me, I remind myself that time does not stand still, and never has. It may well be true that changes are coming at us at a much faster pace than ever before, but that’s not something I can control. But what I can do is pick and choose which changes I embrace, which ones I simply cope with, and which ones I just plain ignore. And for me, that makes it so much easier to cope.