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The Microwave Generation

Upon sitting in my terrorism class this morning, I heard my teacher make reference to our generation as the “microwave generation.” Even though I was not fully paying attention, those two words struck a nerve in my mind.

Let’s think about this. Re-wind to the days before the microwave was invented. That gets rid of all of those microwaveable instant foods like Chef Boyardee and Cup Soup. Imagine everyday life without a microwave. We would have to rely on the stove top & the oven for everything; even if we just want a cup of warm milk to drink before bed. Leftovers would require a pot and a lot of patience, not to mention we would have to cook or buy restaurant food much more often. I’m not sure if our generation could handle it, although it may sound quite trivial and easy to manage.

We have been told many times that our generation is moving at a fast-pace. I have observed some of the changes from my lifetime alone, and often wonder what to expect for the next few years. I have lived through radios with only a few stations, to tape players, CD players, MP3s, and iPods. (Microsoft Word does not even correct those anymore.) I have gone from watching black & white shows of I Love Lucy to High-Definition TV that can be paused and re-wound. If I decide to have children, showing them a VHS, a CD player, a Nokia flashlight phone with no camera that can only make & receive calls or text messages, or a television that is bigger in the back than the remote is, would leave them in sheer amazement and probably with a few laughs. We have gone from video recorders and cameras without screens, to touch screen cameras that can take and show both pictures and videos. (My father is currently fighting a losing battle in an effort to convert our old VHS tapes to DVD’s so we can replay some of our old family videos; there is nothing in our house that can play a tape from an “ancient” video recorder.)

And this is all just in my two-decade lifetime. I cannot imagine how my elders feel about all of the rapid changes that they have seen take place over the past few years, coming from record players and televisions with only a handful of channels. (I’ve heard talk of a future with pause-&-play touch screen televisions that not even I can begin to fathom.) We have all taken advantage of these luxuries, and have gotten quite comfortable with their convenience. Even I am guilty of it as I sit here and write this blog from my cellular telephone. But it certainly leaves me to wonder; when is it going to be too much? Will it ever get to a point when such advancements will have gone overboard?

This brings me back to the statement my professor made; He called us “the microwave generation” because we want things now. We never want to wait for anything. We want express lines at Disney, we want to fast-forward through commercials, we want to see the pictures we took right away, we want to get online as soon as we turn on the computer, we want to reheat our food in less than two minutes, we want to hear the song right now…

Remember America Online? Where you had to connect to the internet through use of dial-up? The sounds of the computer dialling a number & trying to establish a connection seem so ancient now.

Still, I am not sure I can say I ever missed out on much of life by sitting at the desk and waiting an extra few minutes for my computer to connect. What is the rush anyway? We only fast-forward through the commercials to then sit in front of the television all day. As fast as the internet connects, we still spend hours online pretending what we are doing is important. The only example I’ve used that makes any sense to me is the concept of the microwave. (Food is my weakness.) Other than satisfying hunger, what are we in such a hurry to do?

As far as I am concerned, the slow dial-up was quite the deterrent. It made me think twice about sitting in front of a computer screen—which is a great thing. I spent far more time socialising with people of whom I could actually see and feel, as opposed to a picture or name in a chat room or instant message.

Do not get me wrong, I’m sure technology has helped to reunite and rekindle friendships all across the world, and I am certainly not knocking that. I just think we should slow it down a little and take more time to be with our families, or go outside and take a walk and observe whatever is left of the land on which we live. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on the new flat screen or cellular telephone, take a trip with your significant other to a place you’ve never been. (It quite possibly could save your otherwise fast-paced and unsuccessful marriage.) Tour a museum. Learn how to swim, or how to ride a horse. Go on a road trip to visit distant relatives; those few hours in the car make for good bonding time and irreplaceable memories.

There is so much more to this world we live in than just gadgets and gizmos.

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