Tuesday 20 June 2023

Bye Tech: Two-Thirds Of Americans Want To Go Back To Time Before Internet, Cell Phones, Poll Finds

 Young people won’t remember this, but there was a day not that long ago when our modems went from being able to handle 14.4 Kbps (thousands of bits per second) of data to 28.8 Kbps. The new thing called “the information superhighway” was suddenly blazing fast (for us, anyway). A photo took only a minute or two to download instead of 10. Amazing!

(BTW, for you old folks out there, if you wanna hear the throwback modem hook-up sound, click here.)

Nowadays, home routers can handle upwards of 2 gigabits per second (Gbps), so you can download hundreds of pictures per minute. And every day we hold a computer in our hand (our cell phone) that is far more powerful than the ones America’s astronauts used in their trip to the moon.

So you’d think we’d all be happy, and even more, wanting technology to continue its ever-upward trajectory. But no. Most people long for the old days — and it’s not just older people.

A new poll has found 77% of middle-aged Americans between 35 and 54 years old want to return to a time before society was always “plugged in,” a time before the always-on internet and cell phones in our pockets ruled our lives.

But it wasn’t just middle-agers. The Harris Poll found 63% of people aged 18 to 34 years old also want to go back to simpler times — even though most of them never experienced those days. Weirdly, fewer Baby Boomers want to go back, with 60% of people older than 55 saying they want to return to pre-internet days.

But overall, two-thirds (67%) of poll respondents said “they’d prefer things as they used to be versus as they are now,” The Wrap wrote.

The poll also found 9 of 10 are open-minded on advancing technology, but more than half say they’re sometimes overwhelmed by the onslaught. And a majority says the advancement of high tech is often more divisive than unifying.

There’s merit to the desire to go back. Take the work-from-home phenomenon that exploded as the world sunk into the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, it’s nice to be home, but with the advent of constant connectivity, the work day often starts shortly after you wake up and ends well into the evening. In between, everyone can reach you at all times.

In my old newspaper days, I had to get to the office. After all, that’s where my computer terminal — set up to write in the code set up by the paper — was, not to mention my phone. If you wanted to reach me, you had to call me there (this will sound amazing to young people, but we did not routinely give out our home numbers — that was a sanctuary away from work).

All that is over. Bosses have no qualms about sending workers an email or text at 9 p.m. asking for something to be done immediately. And forget those hourlong lunches (what we called a “lunch break” — and we did it daily, taking off from noon to 1 p.m. to relax and recharge). Now, we slam down a sandwich while tapping away on our computers. It never ends.

And so many Americans have become absolutely hooked on endlessly scrolling through their phones. When my golf buddies and I joined a bowling league (we’re old) to stay active in the winter, I once picked up an amazing spare (the 7-9 for you bowlers) only to turn around and see my three buddies’ faces buried in their phones.

Maybe the young people out there will take themselves offline by choice. Me, I’m not on Facebook or Instagram or TikTok and post rarely on Twitter, always for work. I call all those sites “Time Sucks”: anything else you do — literally anything — would be time better spent.

Makes sense most of us want to go back. And just so you know, it only gets worse from here.

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