A few years ago myself and about six other actors had to go to the American Embassy to get visas for a film we were shooting in New York. Due to recent worldwide “activities” security was super tight and we were banned from taking our phones in to the building with us. An assistant from the production company gathered up our hardware and promised to be back in a couple of hours. We all went inside and due to a malfunction in the matrix we were done in about half an hour (anyone who has ever had to go to an embassy to get any kind of visa will know that these things usually take about three to four years). Back out on the street we realised that the assistant was off on Oxford Street somewhere probably having a wonderful time with about two grands worth of phones in her bag. And we had no way of contacting her.
At this point I remembered I had her number written down on a piece of paper (old school. That’s me). So then we set out, en mass, to find a payphone. In central London. That worked. Not an easy task. It was like a Carry On film or a really naff joke: “How many actors does it take to make a phone call?”
For some reason this memory came to mind the other day and it got me thinking about how much we rely on technology these days and how much it has changed our lives…
When was the last time that you used a payphone? That answer is probably “years ago”, especially if you live in London. It’s pretty much impossible to find a payphone in the city these days that hasn’t been vandalised, covered in advertisements for “ladies of the night” or turned into a über trendy bar/coffee shop/library… And who uses a phone book any more? You just google the number right? Or ask Siri. And we don’t even need to call them “mobile” phones when half the people I know don’t even have a landline. It’s not a “mobile phone”, it’s just a phone. Full stop. (Except if you live in the States. Then its a cell. But that’s a whole other blog just begging to be written…)
Junk EMAILS have become the new junk MAIL. Remember how you used to get several letters a day delivered at home and how frustrating it was when most of it was just junk? Now its junk emails that are the biggest let down. Does anyone write actual letters any more?? I do occasionally (told you. Old school) . And when I get one in return it’s so exciting. A letter! A HANDWRITTEN LETTER!!! Its like someone is contacting you from the past…
When I first started modelling (many, many years ago) our “charts” (our daily calendars that show what jobs we’re booked for or if we have castings that day) were ACTUAL “charts” on a clipboard kept in what was essentially a giant Rolodex in the middle of the round booking table. And you had to “check in” every day by calling the agency on the PHONE and writing all your appointments down on a piece of paper. And an A-Z was a model’s bible. Without it you were lost. Literally. Nowadays it’s all done on computer and emails and you google-map or city planner everything. (Yes I am aware that this confession of the past dates me a little. Who cares. Everybody knows I’ve been modelling since the dark ages. It was a glorious time to work in fashion. I taught Twiggy everything she knows.)
Holidays. The internet has drastically changed how we book our holidays. It used to be all about picking up holiday brochures and going to travel agents (do they even HAVE travel agents any more?) Now we source the cheapest flight on Skyscanner and book a hotel through Expedia after careful research on Tripadvisor first.
Ditto for banks. Most of us use online banking now. And contactless payment. Searching for a cashpoint (or ATM for my American readers out there) is becoming a thing of the past. And who still goes in to banks to use the counter services?? (Not many people. I asked. Except my dad. He still goes in to the building to do his banking. He refuses to use even a cashpoint unless he absolutely has to. Bless him. Must be where I get my old school-ness from.)
Books are read on Kindles. We no longer need to buy CD’s, certainly not cassettes and only resort to buying vinyl if we’re going retro or are hardcore into our music. If you need to know what the capital of Uzbekistan is you definitely do not need to go to the local library to find out (Tashkent in case you were wondering). All the information we need is just a click away.
Bookshops are dwindling because we can read most things electronically. Blockbuster went bust because we no longer rent DVDs from an actual store. In fact DVD sales are dropping dramatically due to streaming. Kodak has gone under as a result of digital photos and the fact that everyone basically has a camera on their phones. It used to cost you 50p to buy the Evening Standard in London (wonderful newspaper. They basically do a late print so you can read tomorrow’s news on the train on your way home). Now they give it away for free. Why? Because of dwindling sales due to the rise of online news. I mean who still actually buys a daily newspaper?? (Other than my dad. Again. The headmaster of old school).
But is this ever-growing change a good thing?? Who knows. Probably. Somethings will be great (Thank you Paypal for allowing us to buy crap we don’t need off eBay swiftly and securely). Somethings will seem great and then quickly die (Friendster. So good but so gone….) and others will just never get the chance to fly in the first place (MP3 players?? Anyone?? Nope… ok. Moving on…) Whether it’s a good thing or not things will keep moving on like this. I’m sure at the beginning of the century people were grumbling about the “new fangled automobiles” and probably thought the horse-drawn buggy would never be replaced. But here we are. Less horse poop on the roads but a lot bigger carbon footprints. That my dears, is what they call progress.
Who knows what the future will bring. But the sooner they get the hang of teleportation the better… Whether it’s horses or cars, that commute is still a nightmare…