The Change Up: Good or Bad?

Recently, I watched a DVD of one the last films I saw in the movie theater, pre-pandemic. It got me wondering when, or if, I would ever experience another movie theater film.

Life has changed mightily in my 63 years. Overall, life is easier and more convenient, but I would not say universally better. There are things gone or changed that I miss. Others, not so much.

The movie theater experience of my youth, is one I greatly miss. Movies were different then, as was my interaction with them on the big screen.  In recent years, the movie theater experience has decreased from my life.  Will I ever go back to the theater when it is safe to do so? Maybe. Seeing new filmed content is more about streaming now. You need fast internet and a platform where you can subscribe or purchase it. Home is the new movie theater experience.

First it was email, then texting, that changed written communication. Email replaced letters and even memos. Emails were like fast food letters. Texts are sound bites, thoughts on the go.

What I miss are thoughtful, heartfelt letters. Gone are the days when you waited to receive a reply from someone as that physical writing worked its way across town, the state or even from another country. It was slow, and sometimes agonizing, as you waited and checked the delivery each day.

When that letter arrived, your heart skipped a beat. You quickly opened it and absorbed each word. After finishing, you read it again. And maybe again. These letters you kept. Maybe for years. The envelope, the handwriting, maybe even a faint scent. Each time you found that letter, a part of you was transported back to that time. Emails? Not so much.

Vehicles are safer, highly efficient and more comfortable than ever. They are also complex and expensive to maintain. Gone are the days of self maintenance – for me. Before computers and enclosed systems, there were a few things I could do under the hood. Aside from refilling windshield wiper fluid, I keep the hood lowered. The new car I purchased has tons of devices and gadgets. It’s a bit imposing to drive. I miss the simpler days of just turning the key, putting it in drive and hitting the gas. I didn’t mind hand-cranking the window down to feel the summer air blowing through the car.

A walk down the town’s main business street takes you through the soul of the community. Try it on a Saturday afternoon. That’s what I remember.

Most towns still have a Main Street, although it might seem very different than it used to. Empty storefronts, chain stores, fewer people. Walmarts, cheaper land elsewhere, recessions and Amazon changed the landscape of America’s downtowns. The pandemic pounded additional nails in the coffin of mom and pop businesses.

Music still comes in a physical form, CDs or vinyl. In recent times, vinyl has staged a comeback and actually outsells CDs. For many, music is downloaded or streamed. I miss the days of shopping for music in a store, looking at vinyl albums, studying the artwork and reading the credits. Everyone has their musical preferences, but the music was better then.

This not a rant about how things were better in the good old days. Mostly, life is better. Not everything that has changed is about technology or economics. We have changed. Our perspective on American values has shifted. I miss when we stood up for them, and practiced them. We know the difference between right and wrong, we don’t need “news” commentators passing lies for facts, politicians denouncing science, or charlatans rewriting scripture to justify greed and hate. On those, the old America was infinitely better.


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