My cell phone. Remember answering machines? I remember coming back to my dorm room and seeing the little flashing red light and listening to the message from hours before. A game of phone tag could last days. Today, if there's news, I've texted my extended family and had a discussion with my wife between leaving work and getting home. I don't remember the last time I couldn't find reception for my cell phone, and if I'm lost I can literally ask my phone where I am. Have you noticed how women joke less and less often about men's refusal to stop and ask for directions? GPS has changed all that. Of course, if an app doesn't open right away or quits unexpectedly, or if a phone call is dropped (which hardly ever happens anymore), I swear off this amazing little piece of handheld technology as a piece of junk and threaten to upgrade. And how about that word? "Upgrade". Ten years ago I only really heard it when I was being asked if I wanted to pay the airline more to sit in business class. Now it's become a cultural buzzword that means, "better than what you
My life. I complain about too much work and too little pay, about not seeing friends enough or those responsibilities that I feel are hanging over my head. I complain about the country, about our government, about big businesses and feeling short-changed. Really, though, a little perspective helps. I wasn't around to see it, but the last time we had an economic collapse of this magnitude (and from nearly identical systemic problems) it was 1929 and we had 25% unemployment, compared to our 9.1% now. People starved to death and whole families slept in alleys and fields. I won't say that things aren't tough for a lot of people, but not like that. Our two wars have been costly, to be sure, but not nearly as much as any one of the wars of the previous century (not counting the Gulf War). Most of us now have access to the internet, which places nearly everything we would want to know within seconds (minutes at the public library) of our eyes, where before that information might have been withheld from certain segments of our population. Environmental protections, despite our current congress's efforts, are ahead of where they were just ten years ago; and the movement has grown to become a mainstay value of both the nation and even world religions. I can't remember the last time I saw someone throw anything bigger than a cigarette butt out a car window. We're healthier, materially wealthier, living longer, better connected, and more involved than we ever have been.