Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?
Nothing’s actually obsolete unless it didn’t work in the first place, in which case, what’s to miss? But I must say there are days when I wish they’d leave things alone for a minute or two before they fix what ain’t broke and develop it into something bigger and better (or smaller and the same but more complicated), guaranteed to cost more and automatically obliterating any hope of keeping the older version in working order.
Take my cordless phone, for example. I’ve had it for almost 20 years (shock horror!), it’s far simpler than the modern versions and not prone to the tantrums of the prima donnas boasting features I don’t want and wouldn’t use. But its battery is getting tired. Will I be able to replace it? Of course not. The bright young things in electrical shops will look at me with curled lips and raised eyebrows and produce technological wonders to take its place, costing me money I don’t have, and probably lasting half the time.
It’s not that I don’t have enough marbles left to cope with the new versions. I do. But my marbles have far more interesting things to occupy them than working out the functions of Bluetooth, Smartphones, iPads, built-in digital recorders and so many remotes you need a special stacker beside the couch to cope with them. Particularly when I know that by next year, they’ll all be outdated.
The truth is, it’s no longer a case of us mastering technology. Technology has now mastered us. It’s an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. People queue outside Apple stores for days to be among the first to own the newest whatever. Will it enhance their lives? Yes. Because that’s what it’s all about, for them: have the latest whiz-bang or die.
So no, I’m not hankering after any technology that’s been and gone. What I miss is the idea that something might last awhile before you have to replace it.