Many approaching retirement and retirees alike express regret at how fast technology is changing our lives. They recall the days, not too long ago, when we were not a connected society with instant messaging, cell phones, and computerized everything. It’s amazing just how far we’ve gone in such a short time and how our lives are so dependent on computers of every stripe. The younger generations have grown up with this technology, with its ever changing landscape, and accept it without pause.
I was at our local bank awhile back when their computer system crashed. I wasn’t able to make a deposit, get cash or even access my safety deposit box! This is systemic with most businesses today and when a computer system fails that sector shuts down and comes to a dead stop.
Back in the 1960s, 70s, and much of the 80s we had passbook bank accounts and even when power went out local banks could still make book entries and cash checks with money on hand. Most stock transactions were made by phone and online shopping was nonexistent. Many things were handwritten, manually filed, and accountants had a field day working through detailed ledgers to balance the books, especially for small businesses. We needed a lot more workers back then to complete the manual data entry and so forth.
This past winter presented another challenge; a potential power grid failure. With so many coal fired plants taken offline recently due to environmental regulations we came close to exceeding our supply and without power everything grinds to a stop. Recently, a local electric provider announced a 50% increase in premiums for the next 12 months because they had to pay high prices to electricity suppliers over the winter and they could hardly keep up with demand.
I’m sure our grandparents felt the same way when the telephone, radio, cars, and transportation changes were up and coming in 1900. They probably felt intimidated by all of the changes and had similar reservations. Regardless, I still feel we are more vulnerable today than ever because of our complete reliance on computers. I wouldn’t be so concerned if we had manual backup systems to handle major power grid and computer system failures. For example, if there was ever an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) event from manmade or natural causes our computer dependent society including our cars, power grid, etc would be compromised and some estimate it could take years to restore power across the country.
All that being said I’m hooked on new technology and life is so much easier with it if we embrace it and take the time to understand and use it. For example, I pay all of our bills online, change cable TV channels, search TV listings, visit internet sites, and follow stocks on my iPhone. Some newer hearing aids also offer pairing to your iPhone to answer calls, adjust sensitivity, and change programs.
The iPhone and iPad along with Face Book are fun ways to keep up with family and friends. Our son, daughter-in-law, and daughter frequently send photos, videos, and messages to keep us up-to-date with what is going on in their lives and we can follow our grandchild through all of his hilarious antics.
I use GPS when we travel and it makes trips so much more relaxing now that a friendly voice prompts you to take the shortest route and the right turns to your destination. If you get lost on a day trip just press home on your GPS and it takes you there and when you run into a traffic jam you can select an alternate route around the problem. My wife and I also enjoy all that SIRIUS XM radio offers and while traveling we listen to news, CNBC, talk radio, plus explore hundreds of channels loaded with music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and more. Due to computer components our cars are more reliable, burn less gas, and now are equipment with collision avoidance RADAR and soon will take us to our destination with the computer behind the wheel so to speak!
There are pros and cons to everything and unlike our ancestors the changes are coming faster than most can possibly keep up with. All we can do is adjust as best we can and enjoy the ride.
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