Saturday, 18 June 2011

My Gran's Sweeping Generalisation and the Fear that She Might be Right

I spent last weekend in a cottage in the Lake District with 7 really good friends. We had a brilliant time. I was going to write a blog about it but my friend Niki wrote a far better one than I could ever dream of so you should check hers out instead by clicking right here:

The place where we stayed had absolutely no phone reception and this meant that no one could access emails, text messages, the Internet etc. We all went on about how cool that was but then scrambled frantically for our phones whenever we visited a local town or village that had any signal. People were suddenly desperate to send texts, find out about any football transfers or find out the surname of the main character in District 9.

Anyway this got me thinking back to something my Gran said a few weeks ago. We were talking about modern technology. I was singing it’s praises and she was pretty intent on disagreeing with anything that I said. She discussed how they had to make do without lots of comforts during the 2nd World War. She then remarked that my generation and indeed the generation below me simply wouldn’t be able to cope without our smart phones, computers, MP3 players etc. I took a stand for all of us and told her that she might be surprised by how adaptable the younger generations are.

She didn’t believe me.

So I took the question into a tutorial session in work.  I told the students what my Gran had said and every single one of them agreed that they simply could not live without their technology. One even said that they would rather die than be without it. I told them to have a good think about it and tried to point out benefits of being without technology e.g. writing a real letter, socialising with real people rather than avatars, facebook friends, total strangers etc and talking to people without headphones in their ears.

They weren’t interested at all and went on to tell me that I myself couldn’t cope without my iphone. I had to remind them that I was alive before mobile phones; computers and the Internet became commonplace. They didn’t believe me and when I told them that my old family TV only had 3 channels on it and that the channels used to stop broadcasting at midnight, they called me a liar.

I left the lesson slightly disappointed and put the question to bed. I still believed my Gran to be wrong but I had no proof to give her.

2 days ago my Sister, Brother in Law and two nieces left the country to fly back to their home in Australia. I went to meet them at a pub called the Honey Bee near Manchester Airport. I knew where the pub was as I had been there before so decided that I had no need to put the postcode into my iphone as it would be easy to find and that’s where it all went horribly wrong.

The first error was my own fault. I was rocking out in my car (this is dangerous and highly non recommended) and as result I sped past the airport turn off from the motorway. I knew that I’d done it and immediately started planning how I was going to get back there. I decided that I would get off at the next junction and double back on myself to get back on track. After getting off the motorway I saw another sign for the airport and against my better judgement I followed it instead of sticking to my original plan. It’s fair to say that I got really horribly lost.

I had a vague idea of where the pub was but since I was now coming to the airport from a completely different direction I couldn’t figure out which road I needed to take. The next part of the story is fairly long so I won’t write about it but it involves me taking several wrong turns; a lot of really offensive swearing and at one point an accidental return to the motorway (this really put me in a foul mood and I had no problem telling it so.) I decided that I needed help so I pulled over, Googled the pub and found it’s address, I then opened up Google maps on the phone and searched for it’s location and looked for directions. Now this would have been fine if the phone could actually find me but due to poor signal, it didn’t. It gave me a good idea of where I needed to go though and off I went. About 2 minutes later my phone ran out of battery and then I was really screwed.

I fell into a genuine anger fuelled panic. I was aware that I only had a short amount of time to spend with my family and that the time was really precious to me, I realised that I had no iphone map to rely on and even worse I realised that I couldn’t ring anyone to explain why I was now 45 minutes late. There would also be a point when they would try to ring me to find out why I was so late and since I had texted my Dad when I left Liverpool they knew my phone was on and in my head I imagined my poor Mum starting to really worry as to why my phone was dead and that I hadn’t turned up.

There was nothing for it. I had to pluck up the courage and go old school. I had to stop and actually speak to someone.

I pulled into a pub and spoke to two plumbers who were having a smoking break outside. These guys were legends and after telling me several times that I was miles away, drew me an amazing map that got me to my family within 10 minutes. I didn’t get their names but I’m extremely grateful to them both. As they were explaining the map I found that I was able to name most of the landmarks they were drawing because I’d already seen them myself several times over the past hour.

When I eventually arrived at the pub I realised that I had been within half a mile of it 3 times from 3 different directions and each time had turned back thinking that I’d gone wrong.

Upon entering the pub I apologised about a hundred times to my family but found out that they themselves had only been there about 20 minutes and that I would’ve spent the 1st half an hour or so on my own.

Not a total disaster then. I did however then go on to accidentally poke my 4-year-old niece in the face, which caused her to fall off her chair, whack her head on the wall and start crying. This was pretty much the last thing I did to her before she flew half way around the world. She seemed to forgive me pretty quickly though and blew me a kiss from the car.

I had a really nice time and was very sad to see them go. The situation was saved slightly by the radio playing ‘Sultans of Swing’ by ‘Dire Straights’ as I drove home. The whole getting lost thing had really pissed me off but even worse than that it started me thinking and unfortunately I’ve decided that…

My Gran might actually be right.

I went to see an amazing band last night in the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool. You should check them out. They’re called ‘Theresa Stern’


  1. I admit technology is great and makes life comfortable, but I'm 20 and if i lost my ipod tomorrow I'd live. maybe. But yeah, I'm young and would rather hang out real time with friends than be stuck on facebook or w.e. Hell, I have only like 13 friends as opposed to anyone else my age who has 378 and knows none of them.

  2. Hi Daniela. Glad to hear it, you might be in the minority though. Fingers crossed that you're not.