Keeping up the pace

Dianne St. Jean
Keeping up the pace

Watching snowmobilers from outside the province return for a new sledding season, and the awesome machines they now have that can navigate high country and deep snow, got me thinking the other day

about how far we’ve come with technology in such a seemingly short time.

I still remember Dad bringing home the family’s first snowmobile, at that time considered to be top of the line – a bright red, box-fronted Ski Whiz.

Dad would get it ready for us to ride, then my friend Linda and I would head out to the countryside, not a far distance since we lived in a small town surrounded by farmland.

It was a real thrill, especially in the beginning, even for Dad to see us enjoying the sport – at least for a while. The Ski Whiz was fine on farmers’ flat fields and down country roads, but just too cumbersome and heavy to navigate deep drifts. And, of course, we were both inexperienced at driving and not strong enough to pull the bulky machine out of a deep snow bank when we got stuck. And, get stuck we did – regularly. We’d walk to the nearest farmhouse and call Dad to come and get us… not so thrilling anymore.

Then there were the phones in those days... we had a wall-mounted round dial phone with a super long cord, so I could move around and have some privacy talking. As soon as I would get home from school I’d call my best friend. Mom couldn’t figure out how, after seeing her all day, we could still easily put in an hour or two of conversation. Yet, regardless of how long the cord was, we were still limited to where we could talk.

Not any more. If Mom thought we were addicted to our phones then, what would she think now? Most if not all cell phone users have their phones with them all the time, some to the point where they cannot leave them behind even for a quick trip to the store.

Then came Internet, which started with dial-up and was rather quickly replaced by broadband. Most young people don’t even know about dial-up – that’s how fast the technology changed. Easy access to the Internet has drastically sped up our ability to acquire information and connect with others. No more waiting till you get home or somewhere where there’s a telephone before you can speak with another person far away.

Along with this technology came the personalization of electronic games formerly played in arcades. How many of you remember Pac-Man or Donkey Kong? Get a young person to play the old versions now, and you’d drive them stir-crazy with the slow pace of the game.

It seems that speed is a by-product of technological advancement. Compare horse and buggy, steam, piston and jet engines. The whole world seems to be moving toward a faster pace all the time. In some instances this makes life easier, but in many cases we are discovering that it can also do some damage.

As frustrating as slowness or having to wait for things might seem, it gives people time to truly appreciate or even analyze things, maybe even to rethink some of those otherwise hasty decisions, which in some cases can have long-term negative consequences. And, in terms of the physical, the more speed – the more risk, and skill required to handle it. Will we be able to keep up the pace?