Things That We Cannot Do Without
There was a time when there was no Television (TV) and family was able to gather around the table to enjoy a nice dinner. People read newspaper or had a conversation to spend the night. There was a time when there was no refrigerator and people had to buy grocery in the morning, cook, and eat fresh food and vegetables each day. There was a time when there was no Personal Computer (PC) and people did the work with pencil, paper, and calculator. There was a time when there was no Microwave Oven and people had to eat the leftovers cold or spend long time to heat it up using conventional means. There was a time when there was no cell phone and people had more time to think when they were alone and to look around when in public. Now, all that has changed for the better or worse. It is a trend of time that no one can avoid and resistance is futile.
It was invented in the 1950s based on an ingenious principle that has remained unchanged for the next 60 years. The image (vision) is broken up and converted into electrical signals which are then transmitted over the air (tele). A device over the distance receives the electrical signals and converts them back to image to be displayed on a visible screen. The device is called the Television (TV) that can be mass-produced to be affordable by the general public. Initially, there were only a few TV channels showing mainly news or comedy programs. But, its popularity with the general public is so overwhelming that new programming – documentary, education, drama, game shows – springs out and the technology has improved from black and white to living color, from tube to LCD, from 15” screen to 60” display panel, and from transmission over the airwave to the more reliable cable, from the fuzzy images to the HD pictures. Today, there are over 200 channels with a variety of shows that can satisfy even the pickiest viewers. It can be boldly declared that every living quarter in the civilized world has at least one TV. It has become our window to the world and the primary source of entertainment at home.
Its simple and sturdy design has changed little since its invention in the 1920s. It is the only home appliance that is left on 24/7 year in and year out with few or no breakdown. It keeps the food from spoiling for many days at low temperature and for many months at freezing temperature. We venture to the refrigerator at least 4 times a day and really appreciate its importance when the electricity goes out. Instead of shopping for grocery once a day, we do so once a week or longer. People will look at you in ridicule if you say that you do not have a refrigerator at home.
Ever since its introduction in 1972, the PC has changed how we handle our personal business and how we do our work in the office. Before long, the whole world is connected through PC with networks of wires like spider web. At home, we are able to keep track of our money in the banks and our investments in the financial institutions, to pay bills to the utility and mortgage companies, to send and receive emails from friends all over the world, etc. At work, we are able to use PC to process information that used to take days by hands, to do research on projects that used to mean spending times in the library, to model scenarios and analyze cases that used to take a team of workers, etc. Today, PC has become smaller, faster, and easier to use with functions like voice input and touch screen. It is a necessary and indispensible tool to help us survive in an age constantly bombarded with information on new discoveries and changes around the world.
The principle on how microwave oven works was discovered during WWII. During the development of the radar, it was found that the transmitting microwave signal had the capacity to heat up food at close range. After the war, the microwave oven was invented. However, it was not until the 1970s as its size and price were reduced to an affordable level that its popularity started to soar. Today, almost every household in the civilized world has one in the kitchen. It finds its niche in the ability to heat up the cold food in the fraction of the time in comparison to the conventional means. It is also relatively safe and easy to operate. The only precautions are not to use metallic or plastic objects and not to cover food tightly to prevent the accumulation of too much heat. Nowadays, the microwave oven can be found in hotels, workplaces, convenient stores, and almost any public places. Eating cold food has become a choice not a necessity.
Telephone is one of the most useful inventions that allow people to talk to each other over long distance in real time. The drawback is that the telephone has to be wired at the designated locations that usually mean home, office, and public phone booth. For people who are on the move, they find themselves incommunicado. The arrival of the cell phone in the 1970s changed all that due to its wireless and portable features. Today, it has the size and weight of a wallet. It can be used anywhere in the city but has a limited coverage area in the sparsely populated place like the countryside and wilderness. However, it is just a matter of time when more low orbiting satellites will be launched to improve cell phone coverage to every place on Earth.
The cell phone has changed the life styles of the young and old. The young have realized their new found freedom. Now, they can keep in touch with close friends and share their personal secrets 24/7. The old no longer feel as helpless and lonely. They can surmmon assistance in any emergency situation and call up old friends to reminisce when a gathering is no longer feasible. For people who have to make a living in a competitive society, cell phone provides an alternative mean of communication replacing the face to face meetings.
With those things that we cannot do without, our life has become more flexible. They free us to have more times to indulge ourselves, though, at the expense of our health:
1) TV constantly bombards us with stimulating images and feeding us with repeating messages. It turns us into a passive and cynical being. It turns us into a couch potato and a willing brainwash subject. More and more people find themselves having only a dog and a TV to keep them company at home.
2) Refrigerator can keep food fresh and edible longer. It makes food easily available and opens the door to over consumption that can lead to over-weight condition and diabetes.
3) PC has become an indispensible tool for most people in the workplace. Many people spend almost the entire working hours sitting in front of the PC with minimum and restricted movements that can cause a slew of new human illness.
4) There are articles reporting that since microwave oven using high energy electromagnetic wave to heat up food at the molecular level, valuable nutrients may be altered or destroyed. On-going researches are being conducted to study the long term effects of such claims.
5) Cell phone uses similar microwave signal to achieve wireless communication. Even though the intensity is not as strong, the long term effect on the brain with the cell phone pressing against the ear is unknown at the present time.
Today, there are too many things that are deemed harmful to our health, for example, excessive sugar and salt, air pollution and agriculture pesticides, genetic engineered food and growth enhanced cattle/pigs/chickens, etc. The recommended approaches are not to over-consume and over-indulge but to have a balanced diet, to have a balanced lifestyle, and to allow the body ample times and means to dispose of the toxin.