I miss the good old days.
It was a time if someone had gone through an excruciating ailment they would have been forced to describe it to you. If you were lucky they had no scars to show you.
Now you get photo evidence. And if you hit the gross jackpot they have a video as well.
And it’s all thanks to the smartphone that has put a mini-computer complete with all sorts of functions from a camera to a global positing system in your pocket along with the ability to actually make a phone call.
I found out this past weekend that my nephew Joshua had a kidney stone.
In know this not simply because he told me about it in great detail during an Easter gathering, but he also whipped out his smartphone and showed me photos that he had taken of the kidney stone after he had passed it. (Of course, before taking a photo of it he had to look at it under a microscope that he just happened to have at home.)
This was my opening to pull out my own smartphone and try to one up him with a photo of the severe bunion I have that was accompanied with a callous that had popped open on top of a hammertoe.
I won the gross contest judging by the reaction of others to Josh’s kidney stone photo and my toe photo.
I honestly never would have thought about taking a photo of my toe if a friend who was a nurse hadn’t asked me to do so and email it to her in a bid to give me an idea whether it was infected. It wasn’t infected. That said I never deleted the photo.
Back when we had to lug around an actual camera to take photos, most people refrained from taking photos and videos every 60 seconds much less of their kidney stones or hammertoes. And if you are among the prehistoric living, you showed much greater restraint because there were only so many shots on a roll of film that you paid $5 to buy and then had to spend another $10 to get developed. And instead of being able to instantly see what you shot and send it to 6,000 or so of your closest friends a second later with a few taps on a screen, you had to drive to a drug store to drop it off and then wait for them to ship it to a place like the old Qualex photo processing plant in Manteca on Industrial Park Drive to develop the film, make prints and send it back.
Once you got prints back, you couldn’t carry them all around with you although some people tried. They didn’t fit easily in your pocket. When you did carry one or two with you they easily got ripped, bended and faded.
And if you shot “film” — an old timer’s term for video — you had to go through the same process plus have a projector and screen to show it.
Now it’s all on your smartphone, if you’re the new old school or on your watch if you’re cutting edge. And you can even share videos in real time.
Smartphones are the Swiss Army knives of the 21st century. They are alarm clocks, thermometers, watches, calendars, books, heart monitors, gaming devices, stock tickers, radios, cameras, calculators, web browsers and you can even use them to make a phone call.
We are told this is a good thing.
It makes us all connected.
I may be a bit odd but I thought I was more connected with people when I wasn’t able to communicate with them practically 24/7 regardless of where they or I am on earth.
By that I mean quality connections. Viewing a video of your cat, being sent updates on what you had for lunch, seeing selfies you took with friends, or getting an emotional rant in a text is just noise. You got to know a person better when you had long conversations or face-to-face debates and carefully chose words using a pen to commit to paper and then send as a letter. Even talking to someone over the phone has richness and more depth than mere texting. You can at least have the benefit of voice inflections instead of just having your inbox peppered with spur-of-the-moment rants or what must have seemed like insights at the time to the sender.
There is no face and voice — figuratively or in the literary sense — to emails.
Photos are nice but they lack the tactile advantage of being there. Nothing against sharing things in a reasonable fashion, but I still find the images I capture in my mind of places I’ve been and people I’ve met that I can call up from the memory chip that Steve Jobs’ creator made (also known as the human brain) to be much more fulfilling and satisfying.
But then again tales of woe rarely solicit as much sympathy as digital photo of a kidney stone crystal you can blow up to the size of a marble and freak people out or a hammer toe so bent and swollen that it makes others wince in pain just looking at it.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.