It is undeniable that we have come a long way with modern technology, which has, in many ways, made life easier. At the same time, it feels like we are moving at lightning speed and everything is fleeting.
Looking at the past and comparing it with the present can sometimes really put things into perspective. Do you still remember what it was like before you could look up the answer to any imaginable question on Google? When you had to go to a travel agent and look at actual brochures and catalogues to plan your next vacation instead of simply opening TripAdvisor on your iPhone?
Spoiler alert: this article is written by someone who grew up in the 1980s and 90s and therefore, might be slightly nostalgic about those long-gone days. Only slightly, of course.
VHS vs. Netflix
When I was still living in Japan, there were only a few TV shows that were screened in their original language. Not far from our house, next to the train station, was a video rental store where one could find literally anything, from comedies to dramas, action films to TV series. Of course, the titles and descriptions were all in Japanese, so my visits to the store usually took quite a while as I had to decipher all the Japanese characters. Sometimes, I’d choose a movie based on the pictures on the VHS cover alone - using this method, I was lucky enough to watch some real hidden gems, but also some truly cringe-worthy films.
Today, we have Netflix and TV on demand, and boy, am I grateful for that! I never have to miss an episode of my favourite TV show anymore, I don’t have to remember to rewind the VHS to the beginning again before returning it, and better yet, no more late fees.
Tapes and CDs vs. Online Music Streaming
I remember making mixtapes for friends and boyfriends, carefully selecting songs that would convey my message to them (“I miss you”, “I am in love with you”, “You’re my best friend forever”) and coming up with cover art.
I also fondly remember how exciting it was when my favourite musicians released new albums. When Lenny Kravitz’s “5” was unleashed on the world, I woke up extra early, took the train to go to my favourite CD store and waited patiently until it opened. With the new album in my backpack, I went back home, listened to it immediately while studying the CD booklet - the lyrics, the Thank You notes, the photos.
Who does that nowadays? Hardly anyone. Online music streaming is readily available. Again, it is practical, but it has somewhat taken the art and romance out of listening to great tunes.
PS: I still buy Lenny Kravitz’s CDs.
Playing Outside vs. Online Gaming
When I was still in elementary school, we lived in a small German village with a population of 3,000. I happily spent a lot of my time on a nearby farm in the midst of pigs, cows and horses, or wandering through the fields, sometimes stealing sugar beets to give my favourite horse a treat.
In high school, my ex-boyfriend was one of the first to have a PlayStation, and it was a big deal. We spent a lot of time playing Cool Boarders, but never went overboard. When I go to restaurants today, I often see families sitting at a table, but they don’t talk to each other. The parents are on their phones, while the children play games on their tablets. Why even bother going out together?
Of course, it is crucial that today’s generation of kids grows up with a fundamental understanding of technology. But sometimes it is nice to let them play in the parks and gardens too: so, dear parents, just once in a while, take that iPad away from your kids!
Photo Album vs. Instagram
I have a whole collection of photo albums from my childhood, my youth, my travels. They are rather bulky and take up a lot of space on my book shelves. At some point, I stopped using my beloved Fuji camera and began snapping pictures on my phone. A little while later, I started to use Instagram. Out of all social media platforms, Instagram is my favourite. I simply love seeing beautiful, funny or artsy photos and am happy to share mine with my followers and friends.
Of course, there was something intriguing about picking up your photos at the shop, looking at them one by one, laughing about unexpected candid shots and rolling your eyes over the ones that didn’t turn out well. But on Instagram, I have them all in one place - and both my book shelves and I are grateful.