Living in Retrospect

My mother was born in the year 1956 and grew up on a farm with her mother, father, sister and two brothers in Zakinthos, a small island in Greece.
She leans back bringing her tea to her lips as she begins the retelling of her families past time which consisted of her and her family gathering round their enormous fire truck red radio that her father was so pleased to own. It had cost him a small fortune back then, but as he was amongst the first in their village to have one he was proud nonetheless, and they often listened to old radio series together in their small living room as they were sat around the fire.

Back then owning a TV in Greece was uncommon and only those of high status would have one in their homes. She giggles lightly as she tells me how she remembers how “people were suspicious of the strange little box at first as they thought that the people on the screen could see and hear you, it was funny how they thought back then”Aside from not owning a television my mother had still seen them in cafes and shops around the village and would on rare occasions go to the outdoor cinemas with her family.

It was not until she moved to Australia when she was 18 that she was amerced in the TV culture of such density as almost every house was in possession of least one Television. At her time of migrating to Australia she lived with two other families in a large home with one television in the lounge room, the heart of the house as that is where they would spend most of their time together.

She recalls how “astounded and excited” she was at being able to watch TV, she loved watching old cowboy movies and romantic dramas but was mostly astonished by the news. She was in constant amazement that you could turn on the TV and be able to know and see what was happening around the world from the comfort of your very own living room.

Witnessing televisions progression through the years seamed almost unreal at times. From black and white to colour, 2D to 3D, analogue to digital, large and bulky to compact flat slim and sleek there was constant advancement. She remembers when she had my oldest brother, how she would sit with him and watch cartoons alongside him and went to tell me that the funny animations on the screen were as much as an entertainment to her as they where him as she hadn’t grown up with them as we had.

The strongest and most fascinating theme I found during our interaction was not only the development in the way we enjoyed television but the emotional connection people once had to it and the stark differences.

In the beginning people considered it almost a luxury, special and something to look forward to. They would remember what time, what day and on what channel a specific movie or show was to play and would excitedly anticipate its viewing. Now most of us would look to other devices such as computers, tablets and even our phones to watch our favourite shows and movies. We can watch them when we want where we want and however we want, through downloading or streaming them online, no longer do we rush home from school in order to catch the latest episode of the Simpsons or worry that we may miss a movie that plays only once a year around the Christmas holidays. where people would grow up with a TV show watching the plot and characters develop and they too developing with it through the years, we now binge shows almost uncontrollable, making our way through 5 seasons in under 5 days.

through sitting with her as she recounted her memories on her interactions and experiences with the development of the television I asked my mother if she was at all fascinated by all the things you could view on TV such as the news at the time and if she still experiences that fascination now with all the development and improvements it had gone through. upon being questioned she had turned the question back at me “if you think about it, are you not amazed now that you can pull out your phone and watch a movie, check the weather, and navigate your way around foreign countries with a touch of a button?”

Her words made me wonder are we simply passively taking advantage and not appreciating the technology available to us, as four parents and grandparents once had, because when I sit back and think on her words…yes, yes I am and will forever be fascinated by all the things my pocket sized wonder can do.

interesting reads

Monaghan, E 2008, Television through the decades and the ways its changed our world, weblog post at: toptenreviews, viewed 8/9/2015 : http://tv.toptenreviews.com/standard/television-through-the-decades-and-the-ways-it-changed-our-world.htm

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