Saturday, January 9, 2010

9 January 1956/2010 “the siren song of technology; Who owns Whom?”

 computer 50s

We had some interesting comments on my last post about technology and so I thought we could discuss it more today. We certainly live in a time where our day to day lives cannot really be untouched by it. The very fact I am able to sit here in my little corner of the world typing away and editing pictures for you to see and discuss, is part of that technology. But, what I think my fear is letting it get the better of us.

If we are wise, we will take the technology that is smart and makes sense and use it as a tool .It should have it’s place as Part of our lives not OUR LIVES. That is to say, my computer sits upon my desk and holds all the technology for me to do what I am now doing,but I want to treat it like a typewriter, a thesaurus, a photo album a printing press. I want it to be TOOLS for me to use to express and share my ideals. An improved version of what man has wanted since her first laid down marks and said, “this represents what I am thinking”. I don’t want it to be my ‘super awesome movie machine, my hour after hour music player mixed with endless movies and shopping and ads ads ads and more celebrity gossip than I can handle!” For me, that is not productive.

We CAN live a vintage life along side technology. Indeed, the 1950’s person loved the ‘new and improved’. But they had generations behind them of people of sense and ‘adults’ that knew you were not suppose to eat your dessert first, or sit for hours in ‘pleasure’ alone because then it is not special or taste wonderful, as you have overindulged.

When technology became part of lives in the past, we were not left to overindulge. We didn’t rush home and spend all day and night on our typewriters. The only real parallel seems to be the increase use of the telephone for the teens of the 1950s (the now older baby-boomer generation) who seemed not able to get enough of a good thing. There were many cartoons of teens talking on the phone for hours much to the chagrin of their parents.

Is this the beginning of our modern obsession with our technology? That it is not a help or aid to our lives but dictates and represents our lives? Is it just the level of ease in the technology itself, or is it that we have breed ourselves into the obsession with the new and better? I don’t honestly know. What I do know is that I am going to try my hardest to USE technology in my new vintage life, so that I have a life and not so that it becomes my life.

Over indulgence seems to be almost gone as a concept in the modern world, because it is commonplace to be constantly indulged. We can talk, text, sext, listen, watch, read, play, and be amused all the time anywhere. So, when will our pleasure centers overload? The special and unique is part of the litany of living. The beauty and pride of workmanship and achievement is gone when it is so easy and always there. We become lax and the wonderful becomes commonplace. WE have achieved the level of unhappy self indulged boredom that was once only the province of  kings. Those few over privileged whom were so  spoiled and agreed with that they found to be in the midst of everything anyone could want was the loneliest and saddest place to be.

So, the equality we have found ourselves working towards since the ease of technology is the pleasure to be as ‘bored as an over rich  person with no imagination nor accountability’. Certainly not what our 1950’s forebears had in mind.

I think we need to look about us and say, “how wonderful, look at all this technology, it can aide me to have a life I choose to make” then put the phone in your handbag until you NEED it. Talk to the person in front of you WITHOUT also texting someone else. Use your computer to research, write, and meet up in our digital community, but then shut it off and go cook, sew, bake, paint, read, hug your spouse or child. Take a walk or ride your bike. Have a life you WANT to express online on your blog. Really, can it be very interesting to read “I sat in front of my computer all day today. I talked and texted. Didn’t get anything done all day. So tired and frustrated with life, I wonder why?” because I can tell you why, Too much of a good thing is bad.

So, I don’t know if you agree with me or think me mad, but I honestly feel as if we should embrace the positive elements of the modern world to help us create and make a life we can be proud of, not just as a means to distract us, entertain us, and then express how bored, lazy, pointless we are. I really have felt since my 1955 journey that I am excited to use the technology, but to keep it in its proper place.

And on that note, here is my comic/drawing for today. (Click on it to read)



  1. Not only was it necessary to get up and change the television channel, but you needed to wait until the TV warmed up to be able to watch it! There were limited shows. Living near NYC allowed us to have a good number of TV channels, but not compared to the options of cable and satellite! The viewing was "grainy" or "snowy," and much less "sophisticated" than today. There were less commercials and more program. TV was free. You only needed to provide the television and the antenna. I prefer the "old" TV of 1956! In fact, about seven years ago we discontinued cable. For us, no cable meant no TV. We don't miss it.

    No Idle Hands

  2. Love the picture, I remember the computers from an old Doris Day and Carrie Grant movie called "That touch of Mink". I am watching "How to marry a millionaire" and in the beginning the music score is beautiful. The point of this? I do not need modern stero, ipod etc. to appreciate beautiful music. It is a shame that music is not the same in movies today. There are only a few movies that I have loved the music today.
    The 1950's brought all sorts of conviences it is true and you are right in saying it had it's place. I know my grandmother was the gadgit queen. She had all sorts of kitchen items and her all can do kirby that even had a paint sprayer attachment!
    You have the right perspective.

  3. The ongoing battle for balance. I remember only getting three channels when I was a kid. I don't remember how old I was when we finally had more than three. It is funny...sad...that we are so lost without a remote. One of our electronical gadgets (I coulnt' even tell you which one) cannot even operate without a remote, so if the batteries died (and we didn't have replacements), or the remote malfunctioned, we would be out of luck.

  4. This post really reminds me of Aldous Huxley's book, "A Brave New World." It is a futuristic look at society and is frighteningly close to the culture of today.
    You may also enjoy Neil Postman's, "Amusing Ourselves to Death", which is a treatise on the overindulgence of entertainment.
    Kristin Shoemaker
    P.S. I have enjoyed your blog for the last year and look forward to another great year! You have inspired me to be what I always wanted to be, ever since childhood, but knew it wasn't socially acceptable - a SAHW.

  5. Great cartoon! I was visiting my brother recently and he had 4 remotes on his coffee table and I was unable to turn on the set; at one point I had sound but no picture. We have a small black/white set that works just fine w/ its rabbit ears - no cable. Can you imagine what people in 1955 would have thought about paying for TV? Without paying for cable we get ABC NBC CBS PBS and all of the UHF channels. I have never lived in a house with cable TV (I just turned 40. It amazes me when I visit my brother and hear him complaining that there is "nothing on" and he has over 500 channels.

    *Kindred Spirit*

  6. I will be on to comment more later, but I just had to say that I have a KIRBY from 55/56 and I love it. I got it for my project and it isn't going anywhere. I have all the attachements including the Paint sprayer and even a funny attachment for shag carpeting. There is even a sepearte head that 'buffs' your waxed floors.

  7. i just got an old sears silvertone radio for my sweetie for christmas. the glorious hum of the tubes warming brings joy to my heart. and actually, the sound is better than any new radio we own!! newer is not necessarily better.
    oh, and i have a kirby too. it doesn't have attachments, but it is quite the oldster and still works like a charm. the only thing i could say i don't love is the fact that it is heavy as a battleship, and i have cracked myself a good one in the shins going up and down stairs with it...yipes.

  8. We only had three channels growing up also. Television Programing was better then. Walter Cronkrite was the most impotant man on television.( I remember the landing on the moon)However, I do use my computer to listen to music . I turn on" Yesterday Usa" I can only get it via the internet.It has wonderful old programs like Fibber Mcgee, Jack Benny,My favorite Husband.I turn it on and clean house or go to my kitchen and stir up a hot meal and bake bread for the family . It lightens my work.
    I have a Kirby too older is better.

  9. You are correct. Entertainment is a problem. It reminds me of the "Bread and Circuses of ancient Rome.

    From Wikipedia: "In modern usage, the phrase has become an adjective to deride an infantilized populace so defined by entertainment, instant gratification, and personal pleasures that they no longer value civic virtues and the public life"

    Some might say we are going the way of the Roman empire. Whether this is true or not, we, as a society, are in trouble. We cannot live in perpetual adolescence without consequences.

    No Idle Hands.

  10. Very thought-provoking post. I can't speak for teen in the 50's. But as a teen in the late 60's and early 70's, I always had music on "too loud" and I was on the phone as much as my parents would allow. In high school, it was the only way (except to write letters) to stay in touch with friends. Sometimes we'd go could go weeks without ever seeing each other at school. This was vastly different from when my mom and dad were in high school.

    Just read the comment from No Idle Hands. Oh, yes, I agree!

  11. It is a small world As I read Ms. Shoemakers remark about the brave new world I thought of 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 then I scrolled down to Bow-tie revolution and what was your hubby discussing , Fahrenheit 451. Glad that with all this technology we still have all the books. I don't have enough shelves.

  12. I just wanted to write and tell you what a lovely place your blog is, I enjoy it very much. I have spent most of my life feeling as if I were misplaced in time as the calling of my heart is definitely to be a full time homemaker. Alas, the times have conspired against me and I do not have the luxury of being at home. I still make a tremendous effort to make my home cozy and well kept and delight in homekeeping. Thank you for your wonderful blog and website!

  13. Love the cartoon 50's Gal, my hubby had a laugh too, because it's so me :)

    I do have to admit that "Santa" gave a Wii for my boys, but in keeping with technology they have limited use with it, enjoy it and then I shoo them to play other things ie. they love to play hockey in their bedrooms with plastic sticks and a sponge ball :)

    I agree with embracing technology, but even to this day I often get up and turn the TV on by the button, or even the DVD player, and the remote for the VCR it's never used because gee I get up to use the buttons for that too.

    Even my boys hardly use the remote to turn the TV on, it's quite hilarious when I think about it.

    I would love to turn my back on the modern world, but with young children I need to embrace a limited aspect of it, in order to be aware of the dangers ie. the internet. (which none of my boys use).

    Nothing is better than going to the library, picking out a good book, and reading it to your kids. I like to lose myself in the pages of a beloved book (Uncle Tom's Cabin, Jane Austin classics) to name a few.

    I especially enjoy watching movies that pertain to the Jane Auston novels and enjoy PBS, sometimes television can be a tool that teaches children when used properly.

    But how I lament over remotes, why does one have to use three remotes to access the cable, the television and turn the DVD player on to access the cable to begin with, it is a major source of frustration for me.

    I also miss my mother's old record player (from the early sixties) I had as a child, and on it I would listen to the 45's classics- including some old records when my mother was a child in the fifties.

    But I am digressing here, as long as we can keep our humanity, technology can be a tool to enhance our lives, but within that technology if we lose basic human principles of kindness and good will toward our fellow man (woman), then we have truly lost the sense of community that was once prevalent in the fifties.

    Mom in Canada
    (btw- my name is Terry) :)

  14. Exactly, that is why we just need to USE technology to ENHANCE our lives but not be overcome or to MAKE IT OUR LIFE. Certainly , there may be some fun family games on the WII and PBS and such shows are educational and fun, but as long as we are not watching the average 8 hours a day or whatever the ludicrous number is. Or,as long as we are not using it as an excuse to be mentally and physically lazy. If we are sitting for hours and then feel bad or guilty that things 'aren't getting done' then, though it is hard, limit that time! Make yoursefl do 1/2 of what you planned then watch the tv and you can probably ween yourself of it. THough, it sounds as if none of us here have to worry about that! Also this is 50s gal, but part of my computer problem has been signing into my own site! Sometimes the very thing we love that helps us also irritates us! ANd, it's not as if I can 'lift up the hood and see what is wrong in there' with my computer!

  15. I'm only 36, but my parents had a big console tv with the dials while I was growing up. I remember at night the "Star Spangled Banner" playing and the tv went to static the rest of the night. I even had a small tv with rabbit ears and dial until a few years ago. I didn't mind the getting up at all nor the few channels I captured with no cable.

    I have really fond memories of watching Lawrence Welk with my grandmother in the evenings too.


  16. When I was a kid (early 70's) it was a big deal when a wonderful movie like The Wizard of Oz was on TV. It was an "event." Nowadays you can buy the DVD and play it 365 days a year and it's not special anymore. I miss that.

  17. Another great post, and so relevant! Yes, we do live the lives of Kings, but the sad part is, for most of us, even this is not enough. We want better, bigger, and more more more. We toss things aside without a second thought, and allocate very little value to that that we do have. How very sad. I think our 1950's counterparts would be horrified if they could see the attitudes we now have to leisure and enjoyment.

    I think moderation is definately the key, but it's very difficult for people to take that step back to being moderate with technology once they have over-indulged their entire lives, as much of the younger generation have. I think the real key is that these restraints are set in place from a very early age - and while putting limits on things may 'restrain' in terms of usage, the trade off is the gift of a much bigger appreciation and enjoyment in the long run. After all, the reward is far greater when something is longed for and looked forward to rather than commonplace.

    Again - great post!!!

  18. I think that you have chosen the best of both worlds, 50sgal, to use the technology but also keep it in its proper place.

  19. Speaking of technology, we are having SO much trouble with our DSL. It will only stay connected for a few minutes at a time and then has to be restarted. We are getting cable internet on tuesday so hopefully will be fixed by then. Perhaps, this is part of a lesson learned for me, not having all of you at the 'flick of a switch' in the morning.
    SO, bear with me and I will be on as much as I can. At least my computer shall truly be a typewriter this weekend as I type away at content for the website but cannot upload it.

  20. The thing you forgot in that cartoon was that half the time, you cannot find the stinking remote. Our went missing ages ago. We get up to push the buttons. We only watch movies, so it isn't a big deal.

    I remember when I was a kid (70's) and we had around 3 VHS and 6 UHF channels. We were lucky with that because we live about 90 minutes from Chicago so we could watch their stations. I know that my folks liked to watch Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw. I still like to scout them out on youtube.

    Very nice post! And yes, we have become something like the Romans...scary, huh?

  21. PL,

    I remember only getting three channels as well. That is all we ever had. And, I remember watching at midnight when the channels went off the air and turned to snow. It drives me absolutely in sane to have to figure out how to turn a TV on and then how to watch a DVD. We were at my MIL’s for Christmas, and I was putting in a movie for everyone. I didn’t know how to turn the TV on, went over to look at it, and of course, there weren’t any buttons on it. So, I had to search the room until I found the correct remote. Talk about ridiculous! And our kids think that’s all normal and o.k.!


    I just read your comment, and it made me think of our black and white growing up. We rented it to watch the first man walk on the moon. Mom and Dad then ended up buying it. They upgraded at some point to a larger black and white and then may have gotten a color set later on. I, too, remember turning the TV on a few minutes before the desired program to let it warm up.

    I miss my Kirby so much! I actually like that they’re so heavy; it’s a good work-out!

    LPM, I also watched Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw with my grandparents when I went down there.

    Does anyone know, do rabbit ears still work in your area? We had to change, in our area, last year, as they went all digital. I thought it was nation-wide.

  22. Wise words as usual! :)
    And nice link to TAR at the top of your blog.

  23. After all, the reward is far greater when something is longed for and looked forward to rather than commonplace.

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