Mother’s Day is here again, so Happy Mother’s Day to the 1.97 billion mothers out there. How is the number of mothers calculated? There are approximately 7 billion people on the planet. A little over half are women, and about 2.4 billion are of child-bearing years or greater. Of those 2.4 billion, 18%, or .433 billion choose not to have children, leaving 1.97 billion potential mothers.
Hence the above number of mothers but since I haven’t counted every one, let’s assume the number is a wild guess.
I lost my mother nearly 35 years ago and have now been without her longer than I had her. Every single day I think of her. Two years ago for Mother’s Day, I wrote a post about a conversation with Mom and decided to write about it again.
I think of all she’s missed in the 35 years she’s been gone. The other day I was shredding paper and my thoughts drifted to her and how she would have demanded to know what that horrible, loud machine was and what on earth was I doing?
Which led to more thoughts about all the things we have and take for granted today which we would have been unable to comprehend back then, in 1979.
So, Mom, here’s a partial list, by no means inclusive, just nine things at which I think you would marvel:
Air bags – Remember when we used to drive around with no seat belts and the kids flopped around on the back seat? Well, no more! Now everyone has to be buckled in and the kids have to be in government-approved safety seats and there are big inflatable bags installed throughout the car that will automatically burst forth and protect you if you are involved in a collision. It could potentially break a few bones, especially in smaller people so kids can’t even be in the front seat until they reach a certain height/weight.
ATM machines – This is a good way for banks to cut costs. It eliminated a lot of jobs and people don’t go inside the bank much anymore, but we’re accustomed to it now. You slide a card in and money comes out. Although you really don’t need much money anymore, because everything is done with that card or others just like it. Everywhere you go, you slide cards and sign your name using a fat pen on a screen and it is always completely illegible.
Bar codes and scanners – Nothing has price tags any longer. Instead, the price is on the shelf where the item sits and each item has a code which is scanned by the clerk as he passes it over a little window which beeps happily when it can determine what the code is. Each code has its own price and knows if it’s on sale or if it’s BOGO. Everyone hated these at first, and didn’t trust them, but nobody ever listened to these complaints. So no one thinks about it any longer, it’s become a way of life.
E-mail – This is a new way of corresponding with people. We now write letters and messages to other people using a computer or even a phone (but we better not go to the phone part just yet). When you write an email it gets sent immediately to the other person who might get a little ding that announces its arrival. It used to be fun to get emails, but now most of them are advertisements and junk. Meanwhile, the Post Office is going broke because people seldom mail anything, so the price of stamps is regularly jacked up which makes people even more determined not to mail anything.
Mobile phones – These are phones without wires. Voices float through the air. There are things called cell phone towers erected all over which are ugly but necessary for this. The closest cell phone tower to where you are picks up your voice and sends it to a cell phone tower closest to the person you want to talk to. Then you talk, break up, ask the person to repeat herself, talk some more, break up some more. Then you usually say call me back, and try again. You remember those old phones we had in the 70′s? Those were actually much better quality and more reliable. But mobile phones let you take your phone with you wherever you go and you will never be in danger of being out of touch. And also, you can see who is calling so you can click the “ignore” button, which is empowering.
GPS systems – This is the new map. Instead of hauling out the Atlas which is all beat up from being tossed around in the trunk for a decade (and Missouri and Montana are missing altogether), we now punch or say where we want to go and a voice comes on and tells us what to do. Usually it is right. But not always. This can be on a mobile phone or some new cars have them in the dashboard.
Online shopping – Now we can sit at our computers and shop. You do know about computers, right? They had those back in the 70′s. They used to be big, now they are small and sit on your desk or your lap. You use them to search and buy things. You select what you want to buy and then they ask you for the numbers on that card (see the ATM Machine section), and the charge goes through and they mail your item to you. Sometimes they use the Post Office which makes the Post Office happy. The only problem with this is the excessive amount of cardboard used, which has to be recycled. Oh, wait. You might not know about recycling. We didn’t do much of it back then.
Recycling – We now have to be very careful not to throw out some things. We have to return it so it can be reprocessed and used to make more stuff to be thrown out, er, recycled. This is so we can reduce something called our “carbon footprint” which really means we discard way too much trash and it is making a big mess of the world.
Paper Shredders – Now we have a thing called identify theft. That’s where bad guys find your SSN or your secret financial papers and use the information to hack around and steal money from you. So now you have to save up your vulnerable documents and then one day, finally, you must sit down and shred it all, feed it into a noisy machine which can chop it up into little pieces. It makes a big mess when you dump the shreddings, and fills up plastic bags which you then recycle (see “Recycling” above).
This has been just a sampling of technology and inventions and new ways of life that you’ve missed. I suspect you would have adapted to some of them, maybe most of them. And Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, wherever you are.