The Good Old Days

How great, enjoyable, and relaxing it must have been in the good old days of yesteryear before the invention of electricity, telephones, cell-phones, newspapers, radios, fax machines, and the Internet, when people barely knew what was happening in their own town or village and could spend their time relaxing or learning. So they didn’t know the latest news about the killings in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the other momentous things happening in every remote corner of the world. Would such knowledge have changed their lives? No wonder psychiatrists are treating more and more people for chronic depression and tranquilizers and other anti-depressant drug sales are selling like hot-cakes.

What a peaceful world it must have been without the noisy traffic and constant honking that gives us a headache and the radio blasting at a hundred decibels from some passing car, usually with “music” we wish we couldn’t hear. A time when one could enjoy a wedding and even talk to his neighbor without the music being blasted over the deafening speaker system. Imagine the time when one could live life leisurely strolling along at three or four miles an hour rather than speeding down the highway at sixty and worrying that someone from the other direction might swerve into your lane or the possibility of getting a blowout. Cars seem to make life easier but with the price of gas and insurance skyrocketing, one needs to work 24/6 to afford them. The price of hay was much cheaper and didn’t make us dependent on Middle East oil. I dream about the time when one didn’t have to live in fear that some crazy dictator in Iran would blast the world to smithereens with his newly developed atom bombs or when one didn’t need to worry that planes would smash our buildings from above, or WMD’s would find their way into our subways or that missiles don’t come flying at us from North Korea. A time when one could breathe fresh, unpolluted air without obnoxious fumes from passing cars and trucks and not worry about storms brought about by the depleted ozone layer. A time when we could talk to others in privacy without worrying that the government was constantly snooping into our phone conversations. A time when I was able to get the attention of my friend in the street without having to grab away his cell phone and a time when I could concentrate on the davening and shiurwithout hearing the constant rings of digital music. A time when I could sleep peacefully without the phone ringing and wakening me in the middle of the night only to tell me it was a wrong number. A time when I could keep my money safe and secure, hidden in my mattress and didn’t have to find out from the bank that my check bounced. A time when one ate fresh food each day and not the left-overs that accumulated in the refrigerator over the past few weeks.

Now technology has changed our life and made things so complex and stressful that I must ask a little child to set my watch, set my answering machine, and show me how to retrieve all the important information I recently lost on my computer. My identity has been stolen over the Internet and the bank tells me that I’m no longer who I think I am. Someone seems to have gotten hold of my Social Security number and taken out a bank loan on my name, which I’m now required to pay or else they threaten to repossess my house. I stand here stuck in the elevator waiting for someone to come and rescue me before I exhaust all the oxygen. Perhaps next time I won’t be lazy and try using the steps. In fact doctors blame the higher rate of heart attacks on the lack of exercise due to the use of modern means of transportation. Nobody wants to walk anymore. The only exercise they do is on bicycles and treadmills that don’t go anywhere.

I wish I could get rid of all these new contraptions that have made life so difficult, worrisome, and complex and I’m beginning to wonder if we weren’t far better of without them. Someone suggested moving to Amish Town where life is far more peaceful and there are less people committing suicide, but I’ve become so addicted to them that I wouldn’t be able to exist without them. By the way, if anyone finds my lost cell phone please do me a personal favor and don’t return it to me. Ever since I’ve lost it my blood pressure has gone down to normal and nobody seems to be calling me for any emergencies. If they need me they’ll have to come over to my house and say hello as they did many years ago. Perhaps then I’ll get to know who my neighbors are. Progress is good – but I wonder if it was worth it.

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