No Power

Posting historic photos and memorabilia on the internet is somewhat of a paradox. The use of modern technology to discuss old times is in contrast. Facebook, blogging, posting photos, all new. The Polo Grounds, Motor Parkway, the RKO Keiths, all old. We are in effect using all that is modern to get a better grip on all that is old.

LIE, July 13, 1977, during NYC Blackout

A comment that I often see posted about an old photos is, “times were simpler then.” I usually laugh when I see it. I cough it up to human nature, and just move on. We all long for simpler times. But is it true? Were the olden times really more simplistic than they are now? It is a notion to which who’s truth I have always doubted.

I have always felt that it’s just human nature to think of older times as simpler times. Sure, when we look at an old photo things appear as if they were simpler, but were they really? Billy Joel once said that the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow aint as bad as it seems. Within a few years we may think of today and all its problems as ‘the good old days’ and feel the same way tomorrow about today as we do today about yesterday.

The past was never simple, we definitely do tend to look at it simplistically. Looking back we have certainly had our problems, we have had our recessions, depressions, world wars, cold wars, urban crises, oil crises, noreasters, hurricanes, brown outs, black outs, none simple. But all that said, was the past nevertheless simpler in at least some way?

Perhaps yes. Today we live in a world where we are accustomed to having high speed computers with high internet. Both my business and my past time reside on the internet, so I spend a lot of time on my computer, and its hard to pull me away. There is always one more thing I want to do or need to take care of. So when the power went out this week after Hurricane Irene rumbled through I found myself in an unfamiliar place, offline.

Well, I was really only mostly offline, I still have a Juno dial up account which I use inĀ emergencies, but compared to high speed internet it’s the dark ages. I can only do one thing at a time and it took a long time to do it. I have to concentrate on each task, wait for each screen to load, and move along at a snails pace. I got a lot less done, but the truth was, it was simpler. I did not have to think about the ten windows I had open on my computer. I did not have to think about the five tabs I had open on my browser, or the three pictures I wanted to post, the answer was simple, I could do none of those.

The Back of an old Modem, (recycledgoods.com )

Thanks to high speed internet and high speed computers, it feels like we can do a lot more, and the perception is sometimes that we can do whatever we want. Perhaps for the first time in history the technology can go faster than our brains can. The computer is here, just waiting for us to do something with it, we just have to figure out what it is. One problem is we still can only do one thing at a time. Maybe if we slow down we can actually accomplish more, and maybe, it would be a little simpler.

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