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Off The Publisher’s Desk – 5-2-2018

How things have changed, in the last fifty or so years!  There was a time when I could figure out what happened when a machine broke down and how it could be fixed, but today with all the electronic devises, if something goes wrong, I call for help.

I read with interest Joe Soucheray’s column in Sunday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press, which noted, “The modern kid, by which I mean any kid say, 16 or younger, doesn’t know anything. This alarms me. They don’t even know what a postage stamp is. They don’t know what a letter is or a mailbox.”

He related about a typewriter or a dial phone. Ask your kids about those two and see what you get for an answer. I have a typewriter on my desk, could be the only one in town? They don’t know what a wristwatch is, or an AM radio and sometimes I wonder if they read a newspaper.

A number of years ago, when our Glenwood City office was downtown, a high school aged girl came into the office to visit her mother who was setting type for this newspaper. She wanted to use the phone on her mother’s desk, which was a rotary dial phone. She touched the number inside the dial, but had no idea that she had to turn the dial to get it to work. I was surprised at that or should I say shocked.

But, then I can remember the phone on the wall that you cranked and then the operator came on the line and asked, “Number please.” The number may have had a code so the right person out of the ten homes on the party line got the call. If you did not know the number, the operator probably could get you the party that you wanted to talk with.

If you did not realize it, we are now in the communication age. Kids are addicted to their personal communication device and you can see them walking down the street with their heads into that little box. You see them texting the friend, who just happens to be sitting next to them. 

But, then these electronic things have left this old guy in the dark when it comes to new things. I have to have the kids or grandkids program the television set or the VCR so I can watch them. Oh, it’s no longer the VCR its some other device that runs a disc. I do have a computer on my desk, but when it gives me a problem, I have to call for help.

Soucheray summed it up this way: “But do you really believe that we are better off? When you look at the dreadful news we get day after day, much of it driven by the dangers of social media, do you really think we are better off drowning in our technology? Do you think kids are better off then kids of a generation or two ago?”

Thanks for reading!     ~Carlton