Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Things I would like to bring back from the past

Posted on July 14, 2013 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2013 – 12:00am

I generally like modernity. I am comfortable with change. I can easily adapt to new situations. I am excited about breakthroughs in technology, philosophy, education and thinking in general. I have a curious mind. I like it that I am tech-savvy.

But please note that I qualified the previous paragraph with the use of the word “generally.” Looking back, there were a lot of good things that we enjoyed last century that I wish were still the norm or practice today.

Today’s article will be some kind of a nostalgia piece about what I miss from the recent past and things I wish we did not have to live with in today’s modern world.

Before we totally forget what the world was like not too long ago, here are a few old things I still pine for.

1) I wish we did not always have cellphones, tablets or so much of the portable stuff we bring around today to connect to the world. Okay, if it’s an impossible idea, maybe on some days, we should opt to leave them home just like the color-coding we do with cars. It was so much simpler before we had them. We went about our immediate, relevant business and concerns without them and seemingly without problems. When you looked around you, you saw people looking at the world and/or other people. If they were trying to avoid looking at you they would be looking straight ahead or somewhere else.

Now everyone is just looking at their gadgets.

Haven’t you noticed? These days, where people are seated or waiting, you see most of them now with heads bowed engaged in browsing sites, reading, texting, tweeting, doing Facebook or shutting themselves out of their immediate surroundings. Isn’t it ironic that many are more connected to social media today than with our immediate, real “here and now” physical situation? We prefer to be engaged with something or someone geographically distant from us through our phones and tabs than those who are right here in front or beside us!

Everyone is living in a cocoon within their own gadget world often firewalled from their immediate locations and concerns. I fear that, more and more, we may be losing the art and joy of person-to-person interaction, or the sane practice of just being totally present to the here and now.

2) I wish music videos never became a big part of the music industry the way they have become now. I say this at the risk of sounding like an old man, which to many quarters I know I am already considered to be.

In the “old” days before music videos, there was so much emotional and imaginative involvement that musicians, singers and performers enjoyed with listeners. People were left to actually imagine their own visuals solely inspired by the sheer power of the song itself. Both artists and songs had to be really good to make their mark with the audience.

These days, everything is served to the listener on a platter. Artists practically force-feed the audience with their own interpretation of their songs depriving people the use of their own imagination. There is hardly any real involvement left from the audience except to become fans. So much of the old interaction has been corrupted or stopped.

And one of the worse things about this setup is, a bad song often is transformed into a good, even “great” one because the video was exciting. And the opposite happens as well to a good song with a bad video.

No wonder there are so few good songwriters today, but so many good videographers. And even less great artists/performers who can make a lasting career without videos.

3) I wish that all this knowledge available online was not as readily accessible to everyone as it is now. One may argue that their availability is the best thing that has happened to research, and it is true. I have to agree.

But this availability has also led to the printed page going the way of becoming obsolete. All over the world, bookstores are closing shop. And worst of all, despite the Internet, people are actually reading less!

A world without books and bookstores is too sad to imagine. And what kind of people will we have in the world if they do not read some of the world’s greatest writings and the classics?

4) The availability of digital cameras to everyone, especially Photoshop in my opinion, has not been good for photography overall. Don’t get me wrong. I love all these digital apps and gadgets but I feel that just like music videos, they can make bad photos look too good and all too easily as well.

I cut my teeth in photography by actually learning to shoot with film more than two decades ago. There was/is nothing like film. As photographers then, we knew that every time we pressed the shutter, it cost us money. And there was no instant viewing of pics then. We had to have the film developed first and then printed to see if we shot a good one.

We therefore had to be more careful, perceptive and knowledgeable about composition, lighting, and all other aspects of photography. Now, a lot of people take photos on auto mode without even looking through a camera lens and hope they get the right pic through sheer volume of shots, and then fix the photo with an app. Where is the challenge in that?

5) I wish kids could grow up today without malls and could enjoy the outdoors more. It is a sad state of affairs when kids do not run or play enough under the sun or rain, or when they look at the outdoors as a dangerous place where you can catch all kinds of sicknesses. I grew up spending a lot of time doing scouting, camping at the beach and in forests under all-weather conditions. I was fascinated by nature. I lived without air conditioning as a child, and I still use it sparingly as an adult.

Today, the task of humanity is to save the environment. But how can kids be inspired to do it if a lot of them are growing up hardly exposed, much less enthralled or fascinated, by nature or the outdoors? It will take a lot of physical actions and initiatives to restore this planet to something more sustainable. Don’t rely on an app on your gadget to save the environment.

I also regard with seriousness and concern the observation that many kids now hardly make or entertain themselves with homemade toys. Instead they enjoy expensive gadgets and readymade toys given by their parents who probably feel guilty because they spend less and less time with them.

I wouldn’t mind bringing back some of the simple ways of the past, even if inconvenience is the price to pay for them.

0 to “Things I would like to bring back from the past”

  1. Rachiel says:

    This is very true in all aspects most especially about people not having a conversation anymore…what happen there? Instead of talking, we tweet or facebook.

    Technology has its good and bad side…

    I worry about the children who is always in front of a tablet or phone. They don’t know how to enjoy without these gadgets in hand. Sad really 🙁

  2. I especially feel for #1. In the past, I was the only one with no smartphone in the barkada. Whenever I’m out with friends, I find it awkward because all of them would be very busy with their gadgets and I find it difficult to engage with continuing conversations with them. Now that I have a smartphone myself, I try not to use it whenever I eat out with friends. But still there they are busy typing away on their gadgets leaving me sadly with no choice but to look at my own screen again.

  3. maggy says:

    If I may add. I hope we would get back to writing “real letters” to our loved ones or sending “real greeting cards” or postcards. I couldn’t help remembering how I would spend hours writing a letter to someone close or special to me. I want to make sure that every draft is more meaningful than the previous one. There are things we couldn’t say verbally but expressing them through letters is I guess second best.

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