There was a time:
1) When there was no television (TV) and family was able to gather around the table to enjoy a nice dinner. People read the newspaper or had a conversation to spend the night.
2) When there was no refrigerator and people had to buy groceries in the morning, cook, and ate fresh food and vegetables each day.
3) When there was no personal computer (PC) and people did their work with pencil, paper, and calculator.
4) When there was no microwave oven and people had to eat the leftovers cold or spend a long time heating them using conventional means.
5) When there was no cell phone and people had more time to think when alone and took time to look around when in public.
Now, all that had changed for the better or worse; it is a trend of time that no one can avoid and resistance is futile.
It was invented in the 1950s based on an ingenious principle that has remained unchanged for the next 60 years. The image (vision) is broken up and converted into electrical signals which are then transmitted over the air (tele). A device in the distance receives the electrical signals and converts them back to an image to be displayed on a visible screen. The device is called the Television that can be mass-produced to be easily affordable.
Initially, only a few TV channels were showing mainly news or comedy programs. But, its popularity with the general public was so overwhelming that new programming – documentary, education, drama, game shows, sports, etc. – sprung out and the technology had since improved from:
1) Black and white to living color,
2) Tube to LED display,
3) 15” screen to 60” viewing panel,
4) Transmission over the airwave to the more reliable cable, and
5) The fuzzy images to the HD pictures.
Today, there are over 200 channels with a variety of shows that can satisfy even the pickiest viewers. It can be safely declared that every living quarter in the civilized world has at least one TV. It has become our window to the world and the primary source of entertainment at home.
Its simple and sturdy design has changed little since its invention in the 1920s. It is the only home appliance that is left with power-on 24/7/365, years in and years out with few or no breakdowns. It keeps the food from spoiling for many days at low temperatures and many months at freezing temperatures. We venture to the refrigerator at least 4 times a day and appreciate its importance when the electricity goes out. Instead of shopping for groceries once a day, we do so once a week or longer. People will look at you in ridicule if you say that you do not have a refrigerator at home.
Ever since its introduction in 1972, the PC has changed the way we handle our business and how we do our work in the office. Before long, the whole world is connected through PC to networks like a spider web:
1) At home, we can keep track of our money in the banks and our investments in financial institutions, pay bills to utility and mortgage companies, send and receive emails from friends all over the world, etc.
2) At work, we can use PC to process information that used to take days by hand (now, in the blink of an eye), to do research on projects that used to mean spending time in the library, to model scenarios and analyze cases that used to take a team of workers, etc.
Today, PC has become smaller, faster, and easier to use with functions like voice input and touch screen. It is an indispensable tool to help us understand what is happening in an age constantly bombarded with new scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, and political conflicts around the world.
The principle of the microwave oven was discovered during WWII. In the development of the radar, it was found that the transmitting microwave signal could heat food at close range. After the war, the microwave oven was invented. However, it was not until the 1970s as its size and price were reduced to an affordable level that its popularity started to soar.
Today, almost every household in the civilized world has one in the kitchen. It finds its niche in the ability to heat cold food in a fraction of the time in comparison to conventional means. It is also relatively safe and easy to operate. The only precautions are:
1) Not to use metallic or plastic objects and
2) Not cover food in a container tightly to prevent the accumulation of heat.
Nowadays, microwave ovens can be found in hotels, workplaces, convenience stores, and almost any public place. Eating cold food has become a choice not a necessity under most circumstances.
The telephone is one of the most useful inventions that allow people to talk to each other over a long distance in real-time. The drawback is that the telephone has to be wired at the designated locations which usually mean home, office, and public phone booth. People who are on the move, find themselves incommunicado.
The arrival of the cell phone in the 1970s changed all that due to its wireless and portable features. Today, it has the size and weight of a wallet. It can be used anywhere in the city but has a limited coverage area in a sparsely populated place like the countryside and wilderness. However, it is just a matter of time before more low-orbiting satellites will be launched to improve cell phone coverage to every place on Earth.
The cell phone has changed the lifestyles of the young, old, and the in-betweens:
1) The young have realized their newfound freedom; they can keep in touch with close friends and share their secrets 24/7,
2) The old no longer feel as helpless and lonely; they can surmount assistance in any emergencies and call up old friends to reminisce when a gathering is no longer feasible.
3) For people who have to make a living in a competitive society, a cell phone provides an alternative means of communication replacing the time-consuming face-to-face meetings.
With those things that we cannot do without, our life has become more comfortable, convenient, and confined. They free us to have more times to indulge ourselves, sometimes, at the expense of our health:
1) TV constantly bombards us with stimulating images and feeds us with repeating messages. It turns us into passive and cynical beings, makes us couch potatoes and willing brainwashed subjects;
2) The refrigerator can keep food fresh and edible longer. It makes food easily available and opens the door to overconsumption, thus obesity;
3) PC has become an indispensable tool for most people in the workplace. Many people spend almost their entire working hours sitting in front of the PC with minimum and restricted movements that have caused a slew of new human illnesses;
4) There are articles reporting that since microwave oven uses high-energy electromagnetic wave to heat food at the molecular level, valuable nutrients may be altered or destroyed (ongoing research are being conducted to study the long-term effects of such claims);
5) Cell phone uses similar microwave signal to achieve wireless communication. Even though the intensity is not as strong, the long-term effect on the brain with the cell phone pressing against the ear is unknown at present.
Today, there are too many things that are deemed not healthy for our bodies, for example, sugar, salt, air pollution, agriculture pesticides, genetically engineered food, growth-enhanced cattle/pigs/chickens, etc. My approach is not to over-consume, to have a balanced diet, and to make sure that the body has a strong immune system and has ample time to dispose of the toxin through exercise and sweat.