Back in the day

Gary Lester

“Back in the day,” I took pictures for the Warren Times Observer. At first, I worked on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays. Then I added other nights of the week, and eventually, I had a full-time, second shift gig. I carried my camera with me at all times. I covered all kinds of assigned events and took pictures day and night, when on and off duty. A goal became to have a picture on the front page every day. That pretty much happened.

It was great fun to close up shop every night at 11 p.m. and wake up the next morning to see my work displayed. Add to that the appreciative feedback from people and it was quite satisfying; instant gratification. There were a few occasions when I had an extra-special photo running the next day that I’d go home for an hour or so and walk the dog back to the office and pick up a copy “hot off the press.” Wet ink REALLY equaled instant gratification.

It was a heck of a change when I moved to Whirley and worked on sales projects for months before they saw the light of day. I learned that, for the most part, that’s the way the world works.

There was an interesting story on the news the other day. It was questioning whether “screen time,” the time kids spend looking at their phones and other techno-junk, is contributing to an upswing in childhood depression and other mental and emotional issues.

They interviewed some teens who admitted to spending five hours or more a day on their phones. I suspect they under-reported; that’s a trait of addicts and I do not use that term lightly.

The new technology certainly solves the instant gratification issue. You can find out information about anything in seconds. And, of course, it has to be true if it’s on the internet…. You have instant communication with people and if you send them a message, it’s very likely you’ll have an instant response. Most people operating in this mode couldn’t possibly need that short of response time.

I wonder how people who are getting more and more comfortable with immediate response are going to do the jobs that take weeks, months, or years to complete. They could have a job with NO instant gratification. Would that drive them to even more screen time to make up the difference? Yikes.

I suppose there are people who need instant connection. The reason? I’ll bet they’d say that they’re in a competitive situation and that all their competitors are instantaneously responsive so they need to be. OK, I’ll buy that, but they’d be a small percentage of phone users.

Most who read this will remember the days before portable phones. Most will even remember the days before answering machines. Most will remember the HUGE advance we thought cordless phones were. But think of what phones do now; they’re powerful mini-computers with connection to all social media, all games, all the info on the web, and even excellent photography capabilities. They’re the Swiss army knife of the techno age.

It’s easy to see why these units are so appealing; they offer so much. But I’m not sure the sheer volume of equipment and accessible information is a good thing. Quantity does not always equate with quality.

Gary Lester is a lifetime area resident, a former photographer for the Times Observer, former market manager for WhirleyDrinkworks, retired Executive Director of Family Services of Warren County, and current Director of Leadership Warren County. He is a life-long student and commentator on human behavior.


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