The Old Way

Written by BG Howard

February 1, 2024

In consideration of how things have drastically changed throughout the years, one has little choice except to consider how matters once were during times that have long passed.  I’d scripted an opinion in an edition of a newspaper which posed the query:  “Is more advanced actually improved?”  This question has to be on the minds of all those who deal with the consequences resulting from integration of computers into everything from watches to home appliances, televisions, and automobiles. 

An advertisement for a new model of refrigerator named all the amenities such as dual settings for the upper and lower compartments, special sections for fruits and vegetables, and even a dedicated area for milk and juices.  The shocking aspect of the promotion came, as it always does, when the price was disclosed.  According to the advertisement, the introductory cost of the unit was listed at more than $4200, which would be enough to send the average person into convulsions.  That’s as much as some pre-owned cars and certainly more than three times the amount of average monthly payments for a new one.

And take into account the fact that all the computerized “gismos” which are supposed to make these products and vehicles operate more efficiently, run better, and provide more optimal performance can sometimes cost more to replace than the item or vehicle is worth.  A number of cars have been “totaled” by insurance companies simply because the depreciated value doesn’t justify the cost of replacing a defective computer.

More alarming is a washer, dryer, or other major appliance that costs more than three thousand dollars.  There was a time when a “top of the line” unit could be purchased for less than one third the price of what a new one typically costs these days.  The ironic part is, whether its two months, two years or twenty years old, cold milk and frozen ice cream still amounts to cereal for breakfast and dessert after dinner.

Granted, change is supposed to be a good thing but there are cases when too much development can be more of a hindrance than a help.  If the washer and dryer are in the laundry room on the other side of the house, how much difference does it really make if they operate at a quieter level?  Then, to compensate for the fact that you can’t hear the machine stop running, the units now come equipped with a “cycle finish signal” which is so faint it’s now necessary to make multiple blank trips to the laundry room only to realize the clothes’ cycle hasn’t yet finished.

Everything from mechanics to merchandise and even meats is now “engineered” which, in many cases, requires the finished product to have warning labels or disclaimers.  It’s a truly disturbing place to be when foods being ingested for the purpose of sustaining life actually become the component putting that very life at risk.  (There are actually fewer people smoking now than at any point during the past fifty years yet, more reported cases of cancer…hhhmmm.)

The real question is whether the “new and improved” label is truly there for the benefit of advancements that make a product better for consumers or for advancement of the corporations’ bottom line?  Why build a car and advertise the fact it can run faster than any other vehicle in its “class” when the maximum speed limit on the interstate is seventy miles per hour and less than that on rural highways?  What is the real benefit of a “crisper” for fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator when the food is naturally crisp, unless it’s spoiled?  The purpose of an “extra rinse” and “maximum dry” cycle on washer and dryer is of what use when the machines are designed to rinse and dry clothes anyway?  Dry is defined as being absent or minus moisture.  How can clothes be “more” dry than when all the water was extracted the first time?

In my humble opinion, the entire world (and nature at large) would be a lot better off if some things could revert to what used to be known as the “ways of old.”  As previously stated, there’s nothing wrong with improving a product or method but it should be done in the proper manner…for the right reason. It seemed the world was a lot better place when “mustang” spoke of a horse and not the horsepower of a new Ford; an impala described a tranquil, graceful animal and not a sleekly designed, over priced aerodynamic chunk of metal and fiberglass.  And the worst thing with which man had to contend was a little fresh “fertilizer” on the bottom of his shoe if he stepped in the wrong place or a few missing vegetables from the garden if it wasn’t properly fenced off.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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