Skyping With Jane Jetson

Jetsons Image from Cartoon Vectors at Vecteezy

Back to the Future

When I was a child in the 60s and early 70s (yes, I’m that old!), I loved watching The Jetsons cartoon show. The original episodes were made in 1962 and 1963 when America and Russia were racing to see who would be first on the moon. I loved all the futuristic gadgetry on the show, but my favourite was the video phone. Jane and her best friend could talk to each other and see each other at the same time. That really blew my mind. We didn’t even have a phone in our house until I was 11 or 12.

Present Dreams

How times have changed. During the isolation and lockdown restrictions brought about by COVID-19, I’ve participated in Zoom meetings and workshops, I’ve used Skype to catch up with friends, and I’ve been able to watch streamed church services on YouTube from the comfort of my lounge room. I’m living Jane Jetson’s dream

Yesterday Once More

But spare a thought for Maggie, the heroine of my upcoming novel Scattered. She’s shipwrecked on Sable Island, Nova Scotia in 1882, and can’t get word to anyone on the mainland. The first telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and phones were introduced into Canada in 1880, with the establishment of the Bell Telephone Company. However, that doesn’t help Maggie because there wasn’t even a telegraph cable to Sable Island at that time.

Things improve when she finally arrives in Halifax. At least some businesses and the well-to-do have these newfangled telephones, so I made use of a few phone calls in my novel. However, I discovered late in the piece that it took about ten years for all of the phone lines to be laid. That caused some huge plot problems for me. I can’t give specifics because of spoilers, but I had to pull out huge chunks of the manuscript and totally rethink an entire subplot.

The New Normal?

We get so used to all of the technology available to us, it’s easy to take it for granted. I did my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the 80s, with no personal computer, no mobile phone, no internet and no email. Now I can’t live without them. 

I’m grateful for all the advances in technology, but there are times when I do wonder if we were better off when we weren’t contactable 24/7 and our social faux pas didn’t circle cyberspace for eternity.

Do you have any thoughts on the pros or cons of modern telecommunications? I’d love to hear your stories.

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8 Responses

  1. Interesting post, Nola. How frustrating to discover the telephone had a slower roll out for your region of interest than you’d hoped. (The joys of historical fiction!) Fascinating how reliant society has become on “Jetson” like communication lately. What is also interesting are studies revealing how exhausting this can be as we are forced to interpret less obvious visual cues and body language we unconsciously assimilate during face to face conversation. I think the demands of 24/7 contact are also telling during those rare opportunities people give themselves permission to put down the technology for a while. As much as we benefit from these devices, I think it’s good to step away from the e-noise and go “contactless” now and then.

    1. Thanks for that, Adele. As much as I’ve been grateful for Zoom and Skype during the lockdown, it does take a lot of effort to pay attention. I’ve generally found a one-hour Skype or Zoom session a lot more tiring than a one-hour face-to-face. Part of the problem for me could also be just focusing on a screen for that length of time. And if there are technical hitches along the way, it can compound the issue. I can certainly understand why people choose to go ‘off grid’, at least for a period of time. It certainly can be exhausting dealing with the constant emails, texts and notifications. Though I like being connected too. Like everything, it’s a balancing act and different things might work better for different people. Thanks for commenting. I’d better go and check my other messages 😉

  2. Yes, Nola, we do rely so heavily on technology, (and I love mine) but when we go camping, we love to get away from it all. But I feel sorry for our young folk who don’t know life without it and seem to be unable to get free from it. God bless and thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks for that, Ray. That’s great that you can get away from it all while camping. I’ve only had an iPhone for a couple of years. Prior to that, I would be away from my computer at least when we went on hols. Now it’s too easy to check the phone countless times a day. And yes, it’s hard to imagine what it must be like for young people who have never known a world without that 24/7 connectivity. It can be good, but it must also put children and teenagers under a lot of pressure, especially with some of the more negative aspects like cyber-bullying. Young people are also having more health issues from constant use of devices (e.g. neck problems, RSI, eye problems). in some ways, I’m glad I grew up in an era when we didn’t have all of that. It makes me appreciate what we can do now, but to also see the benefits of ‘checking out’ of social media now and again. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. I agree with all that was said above Nola. Yes there are benefits of living in our digital age, but I think it’s done more harm than good. 24/7 availability isn’t good for any of us. I think we all need space in our relationships, but that seems to be a difficult concept for young people. And we don’t need the constant and continuous bombardment of bad news. I feel and fear for the kids of today, growing up so dependant on technology. There’s my rant for the day. 🙂

    1. Thanks for that, Janelle. During these times with the pandemic, it’s especially difficult to stay positive with all of the bad news circulating. I appreciate social media, but there are times when a social media fast is probably a good idea for our own sanity and peace of mind. Even Jesus went off by himself to lonely places to pray. Your comment is also a good reminder to me to pray for our young people who rely so much on technology. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I love and hate technology. Its great to have our phone handy in case of emergencies, but sometimes I love to be able to experience peace and quiet so I can think. I also feel other devices get in the way of life.

    1. Thanks for that, Jacqueline. It is good to be able to get away from the technology now and again to allow that space to think. I probably need to turn mine off more and do just that. Thanks for commenting.

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