Remembering a time when life wasn?t so convenient

Remember when there wasn?t an Internet or social media?

That is starting to become a question that only middle-age people and senior citizens can answer affirmatively.

Many of my co-workers were born after their parents already had begun surfing the web. While I can?t say they grew up with social media, it became part of their day when they were attending college and its impact continues to grow.

At the risk of dating myself, I grew up when we communicated largely by letter, if at all. The telephone was in play but parents frowned on their children running up the long-distance bill.

Okay, we were known to pass notes in class. I guess text messages serve the same purpose now. I would imagine they would have to be sent as discreetly as notes passed.

When I think how much cyber communication has changed the world, it?s mind-blowing.

For instance, today?s teens can become acquainted with friends throughout the world via social media. The only way we gained friends with even a person living in a town 15 miles away was either through sports, a school function, a church activity, by chance of if that person happened to be a friend of your cousin.

Nowadays popularity among teens and the under-30 crowd is judged by some through the number of Facebook friends they have or Twitter followers. The chances are slim you will meet all of those friends or followers but you have the opportunity to communicate with them.

I also think of the impact social media has had on other parts of our daily lives. Do you think mega marches could be organized throughout the United States without social media? It just takes a few clicks and presto, the message is seen by hundreds of people.

Leaving social media for a minute, modern technology also has helped make our jobs easier in other ways.

For instance, when I began this gig, we wrote on typewriters and took photos with 35-millimeter that used film. The film had to be developed and the photos (nearly all black-and-white) were printed. It was years until color photos began appearing in newspapers.

Every newspaper had a darkroom (not to be confused with a dark room) to run film and print photos. The film was wound on stainless silver steel reels and then placed in a small tank for developing. No lights could be on in the room (hence, the name darkroom). Attaching the film to the reel often was challenging. The film had to be rolled on without any gaps or twists to ensure proper development. You could feel if the film was going on correctly because if it wasn?t, it not only ?pulled? but you could feel the gaps.

The first couple of times I attempted to put the film on reels, I met with little success to say the least. I kept thinking how much easier this would be in the light.

However, once the technique was mastered, it became very easy. So easy, that just for the heck of it, I took a roll of film I wasn?t going to use and attempted to wind it on the reel with the lights on. Couldn?t do it. I had to close my eyes to roll it on the reel.

Printing pictures was a three-tray process. One tray had developer, the second tray was a stop bath and the third tray was fixer. That, too, became an art because safety (dim red) lights were allowed but not regular lights.

When the first digital cameras were produced, they weren?t conducive to good newspaper photography. About the only thing you could get reasonably good photos of was a fixed object. If the object moved, forget it, the camera couldn?t keep up.

However, as digital cameras improved, it became a necessity, especially when you needed a photo quickly. That?s because it was a time saver. For photo printing from a 35-millimeter camera, you needed at least 20 minutes. A digital photo can be printed in seconds.

For all the conveniences modern technology has given us, there is also a downside. Most of those have been well chronicled. It all adds up to the fact that with the good, we have to take a few lumps, too.