When my dad bought a new phone in the early 1960s, he didn’t go all ga-ga over it. It was sleek. Beige in Color. It was aerodynamic — I’m not sure why anyone wanted an aerodynamic phone back in the 1960s, but it was. It has a curled cord that matched the phone and it all came in several colors.
The new aerodynamic phone replaced the old, clunky and very heavy black rotary dial telephone with the black electrical wire cord that was not very flexible and very heavy.
But the real excitement was the major advancement in technology that took place. It had a clearer audio speaker and (drum roll here please), it was push button. And the buttons lighted up when you lifted the phone off of the sleak aerodynamic receiver.
That was cool. You could call people faster. No more using your index finger to rotate the dial on the phone one number at a time, waiting as the dial slowly clicked back to the starting position.
“This is technology,” my dad exclaimed as my mom waited with excitement wanting to use it to call our neighbor Esther, who was a Greek immigrant. My mom and dad were Arab immigrants. I don’t know why mom needed the telephone. Normally, she simply lifted up the window in the kitchen that faced Esther’s window, which she lifted open, too. And they talked for hours. Sometimes, Esther would come over and mom would make us our lunch, white bread with butter spread over it and covered with sugar.
Back then, kids couldn’t get enough sugar. We didn’t have ADD or ADHD or anything. We were just either great kids or problem kids. There was no medication and there was no medical bill, either.
Dad left for work early, walked to the bus stop and took the bus downtown for 12 cents. He came home at night and we all sat around the table to eat dinner that mom prepared, usually a chicken or some Middle Eastern rolled rice and lamb.
We’d sit down in the front room after dinner and we all pitched in to hand wash the dishes, and we would watch the Zenith Technicolor TV, that was another technological marvel, that replaced the Black & White TV that had a small round screen and a cloth cover over the speaker that was woven with gold stands.
And then the aerodynamic phone would ring and mom and dad would look at each other and wonder who was calling this late — 6:30 pm.
Today, we have a lot of new technologies. The entire world is a technological marvel. We spend far more money than our parents did to purchase the technology and sometimes I wonder why.
By the way, we don’t eat together as a family every day as we did when I was young. There’s no time. We have to check email, Twitter, InstaGram, Facebook and whatever. And even though the phone rang back in the old days, we answered it with less excitement, and more apprehension. Because even back then with the development of “Party Lines,” nothing was that important to destroy the sanctity of the evening together as a family. Mom. Dad. Little sister. Big brother. Me. All sitting on the TV set after having sat around the dinner table, and watching something like Lawrence Welk, or that show, the Naked City. Or Queen for a Day. Or, the Millionaire, back when a million bucks really meant something.
But the most amazing thing is the different attitudes that people who own Apple MAC computers have compared to the people who own PC Windows-based computers. The Apple people are so in love with their technology and the Windows-based people simply see it all as a necessary evil.
I mean when I tell people I purchased a MAC Book Pro to replace the old Samsung PC, they squeal with delight. And they say things like “I love my Mac Book Pro.” Or they say, “I’ve had my baby for two years now and it is so beautiful.”
They talk about the Apple products like it’s a new born baby.
That’s a strange phenomena, I think. This love for technology. Yea, my dad liked the aerodynamic new telephone with the push button numbers that light up — it was great in the dark at night when you might think we’d be afraid of being beaten or robbed by strangers. But back in the 1960s, we slept with the doors open and no one feared their neighbors at all or worried about strangers coming into their neighborhood to harm them.
But I don’t remember him squealing with pleasure over the technology the way Apply People go on and on endless about how much they “Love” their MAC Books, their Mack Book Air or whatever.
As a former PC owner, I hated my computer. It was annoying. I hated Bill Gates and I hated Windows. Windows tries to control your life and forcibly make you use their preferred browser, Internet Explorer. I want to use Google Chrome and I was constantly fighting with my Windows PC over which browser was the default browser.
I’m glad I don’t have to do that with the MAC Book Pro. Apple has other priorities about lifting your money from your wallet electronically. Those Apps are “cheap” individually but I noticed my bill the other day and saw how quickly those pennies add up into hundreds of dollars. Exponentially.
They both suck. I don’t love either of them.
I just have one demand, the same one my dad had when he bought the aerodynamic telephone back in the 1960s, the one the neighbors thought was cool and wanted one like “the Joneses.” (Who are the Joneses, by the way?) That demand was simple. That after we work all day and collect our money, and when we skim a few bucks off of the top to make a purchase, like for an aerodynamic telephone or a sleek looking laptop, I just want it to work. I don’t want to have to listen to the sales people pitch me on why I should buy a warranty. “Something could happen and the warranty will ensure that it will get fixed at no cost.”
Well, almost no cost. $390 for three years will ensure that my MAC Book Pro has no problems for three years.
That bothers me since the computer cost a small fortune. I know what I spent on the MAC Book Pro and the new software — since I can’t use all the Windows-based software on the MAC easily without buying a software program that mimics a PC based Windows — is more than what my dad made in one year in 1963.
When my dad bought that aerodynamic phone, the company that sold it and made it stood by it. If it had a problem, mom brought it back and got a new one. No questions asked.
These days, you spend a fortune and if something goes wrong, you either have to pay the vig or the protection money (sounds so Outfit or Mafia-like) and you still have to part with the technology while it is getting fixed. And, in most cases, no matter what is wrong with it, you will pay something even with the expensive warranty.
Oh yea. The iPhone is a good example of garbage pawned off on us as technology.
Sometimes I think we are slaves to technology. But worse, to be in love with the technology like it’s a kid makes me wonder if maybe our society today has a bigger problem with self-esteem or the lack of it. When a piece of technology is more important than a child, or more important than sitting together as a family. No today, we’re constantly playing and using the technology. There is no more 8-hour day, or 40-hour week. The day merges into night and work is continuous from morning until morning. 24-7 truly describes today’s new world.
I liked the old days better.
And I liked it when we weren’t in love with our computers, but rather in love with our families, spouses, children and close friends and neighbors.
As a suburbanite, I don’t even really know more than five families on my street. Back in the old days, I new every family in a two block radius around my house, and even more blocks away.
That was safety. We didn’t need guns and we didn’t need gun control, either. We had each other.
Technology screwed that all up.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He writes a syndicated column on Middle East issues for Creators Syndicate and the Saudi Gazette and alManbar Arab Newspaper, and a local political column for the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper and the Lawndale News. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com. Follow Ray’s Baby Boomer columns at www.BabyBoomerDreaming.com)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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