By Abe Villarreal
When talkies first made it to the silver screen in 1927, they marked the beginning of a new era of communication. Al Jolson was The Jazz Singer and movie audience senses felt something they had never experienced.
There were doubters sitting in those dark movie theaters, but within a few years no one could resist the new era of entertainment. There are always doubters, no matter what the inevitable curb of progress brings our way.
A couple of days ago I sat with a group of middle-aged men who were complaining about the nefarious side effects that have accompanied the rapid pace of technological advancements.
One 50-something said that he’s fighting it by still using his checkbook. Another baby boomer explained that a flip phone was his mark of traditionalism. No one would ever grab it out of his cold dead hands.
They are men holding on to a present that is soon to be eclipsed by a tomorrow arriving sooner than they can imagine.
There are some practices and some ways of life that I appreciate from the age of my grandparents. I’ve imagined conversations and stories told through postcards and phone books. Hand made dresses passed on from mother to daughter. Homemade remedies are now being lost to time.
The social fabric that has tied us together as families and communities for generations is being replaced by a text message with little meaning or sense of emotion.
The smiley face on your phone is the new hug and handshake. We don’t look at each other in the eyes anymore. The members of the greatest generation are genuine in their fear of what we are losing. They know that when certain things are lost, they are lost forever.
If you grew up during The Great Depression you too would learn to appreciate even the tiniest of blessings. Remember when picking up a penny was a thing? Pennies don’t matter much anymore.
Shortly after our conversation, I checked my back account on my smart phone. I’m traveling this weekend and wanted to make sure my finances were in order. It was fast and easy. A minute later (literally), I opened up my laptop and Googled places to visit.
Many of you know that I’ve been working on my family tree and have been successful in finding pictures and information for five generations. I feel blessed to know from where I came, and what helped me become the person I am today.
I know this because the power of technology, the connection of information brought together by researchers and family members across this great country. The internet has brought us closer.
Strangers are making contributions to my life. I’ll never meet them or know who they are but somehow we are connected, a 21st-century neighborhood not bound by city limits.
It’s all made possible because of how much we have advanced as a society, and overall, we are better because of it.
The millennial generation and the generation that follows will one day define this new century by creating their own path, defining a time period with new ways of living, and sharing.
There will be advancements that make life easier, and developments that make us uncomfortable. We are already seeing them and fighting against them.
But stopping progress and movement forward by entire societies has never worked. All we are doing is delaying the inevitable.
Tomorrow is here. Mark your calendars. If you still do that.
Abe Villarreal is the Director of Communications at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.