I was in sixth grade when the conversation turned one day to the turn of the next century, which was still another 31 years away. Doing the math in my head, I calculated that I would be 42 years old when that happened. I couldn’t even imagine being that old at the time. I can barely remember ever being that young now.
The first video game I ever played was the first video game to be mass marketed – Pong. You remember it, don’t you? Big old electronic box that had to be hard wired to a television just so you could break bricks with a bouncing ball? I now play a version of that game on my cell phone when I’m not connected to people halfway around the world via the internet.
I rode my bicycle without a helmet on my head, didn’t ride in a car with seat belts until I was seven, owned toys that had small removable parts, slept in a room decorated with lead-based paint and even played with a chunk of asbestos that my parents bought me as a gift. Medicine bottles didn’t have childproof caps, and drug commercials didn’t list the devastating side effects that could occur while using their product. It’s a wonder any of us survived to see the turn of the century at all.
My cell phone has more computing power than the computers that helped send men to the moon, which I watched in my living room on a muggy July evening in 1969 in a non air-conditioned house on a television set that only got four channels that could be changed only by physically getting up and turning a dial.
I had to wait about a week and a half for pictures taken on an Agfa 35mm camera to come back – in stunning black and white. Photo labs eventually got the wait time down to two or three days, then 24 hours, then an hour until they were trumped by digital cameras, where the wait time to see a photo is now an agonizing three-quarters of a second.
Yup, we’re living in amazing times, we are. It’s a concept that Brad Paisley has captured so well in his recent song, Welcome to the Future:
Look around it’s all so clear,
Wherever we were going,
Well, we’re here.
See the video here.
Well, gotta go. I’m sitting in the parking lot of a cheap motel, glomming off their wireless internet while writing this on my laptop computer while waiting for an appointment down the street.
Something else I could never have imagined in sixth grade.