Friday, November 13, 2020

Insight: Examining life twenty years on

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

In the blinking of an eye, it seems 20 years have passed by much too fast.

Thanks to technology, life for me is a bit easier in some ways than it was two decades ago, but in other instances, scientific advances also have made life much more complicated. And while times may have changed, I’m truly still the same person on the inside that I was in the year 2000.

I thought I would look back and compare where I was then and where I am now and see if indeed my life is better now.

Twenty years ago, I drove a six-cylinder 1996 Pontiac Firebird that was constantly breaking down and replacing the tires on it cost almost my entire paycheck. Now my automobile of choice is a four-cylinder 2011 Hyundai Sonata that is great on gas and more importantly rarely has required expensive maintenance. Advantage 2020.

Way back in Y2K, I lived alone in a tiny one-bedroom apartment that I was renting for $900 a month. Now I am married and own a home with a mortgage payment slightly higher than what I used to pay in rent. Advantage 2020.

In 2000, I had a PC at home that used a dial-up connection and a noisy quirky modem. Today, we have Wi-Fi throughout our home, and we have several iMacs and a laptop with no dial-up required. Advantage 2020.

Sad to say, in 2000 my cable television, internet service and home telephone were bundled through the cable company and it was costing me more than $250 for that luxury each month. In 2020, we no longer have a home phone as we rely on our cell phones, and we no longer have cable television. Instead, we stream everything we want to watch, usually from Amazon or Netflix. Our basic internet cost is $75 a month. Advantage 2020.

Living in an apartment without a washer or dryer in 2000, I used to have to take my clothes to the coin-operated laundromat on a weekly basis. Now I own a high-tech GE washer and dryer that is all-digital and very economical. Advantage 2020.

Twenty years ago, I had to wait each month for my bank to mail me my monthly statement so I could keep track of all of my financial transactions and see if any checks I had written were still outstanding. Now I can do that whenever I want either on my computer or using my iPhone. Advantage 2020.

Every so often in 2000, I would go to the movie theater to watch films that I was interested in seeing. That wasn’t always the most pleasant experience with soda pop spilled on the floor sticking to the soles of my shoes, people talking loudly over the movie in the theater or having a tall person wearing a cowboy hat choose a seat in the theater directly in front of me. Now because of COVID, I haven’t been to a movie theater in years and can watch the latest movie releases online in the comfort of my living room at home at any time. Advantage 2020.

In order to pay my monthly bills in 2000, I inevitably would spend some time on a Saturday morning waiting in the line at the U.S. Post Office to purchase stamps and return home, write out my checks and then mail them back at the post office. I still write a few checks now in 2020, but many of my monthly bills I either pay over the phone or by computer. Advantage 2020.

At work in the year 2000, newspapers were slowly making a transition to digital photography and were still using 35mm film for much of what went into the print edition. That meant developing film in the darkroom, choosing selections from a contact sheet and then cropping and enlarging or reducing photographs for the newspaper. It was a tedious and time-consuming process done mostly by hand. In 2020, all newspaper photography is digital, making it easier to choose photos for print and online photos, and to store and recall photos almost instantly. Advantage 2020.

Newspaper websites were relatively young in 2000 and the notion of transmitting breaking news to thousands of readers in a matter of minutes was surreal. Twenty years later, it’s become a fact of life for journalists. Advantage 2020.

In reviewing how my life is in 2020 compared to in 2000, I guess many things really are much better for me. But I was 20 years younger and in hindsight that’s a clear advantage for the year 2000. <              

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