I am, by my own admission, a late-adopter: I am rarely the first to embrace a new technology, and I sincerely don't understand every little nuance of every new device. Don't get me wrong: I have a smartphone, I have an e-reader, I'm on Skype and Facebook and Twitter... but I wasn't among the first to embrace any of them. I can certainly enjoy new technologies, but usually in moderation. I find it puzzling when I encounter people who cannot be away from one of their devices for even five minutes, or who sit at lunch busily texting as if the person they are sitting with isn't even there. And I must admit I still like some of the old-school ways of communicating-- I miss hand-written thank you notes, I prefer reading an actual book that I can hold in my hands rather than reading it on my Kindle, and I admit it, I still have my land-line. Usually, I adopt something new when it becomes necessary for me professionally: I was never on Facebook until some of my students back in 2008 asked me where my page was; ditto for Twitter-- a radio colleague asked for my address, and I knew I needed to get one, so I did. This blog is also the product of necessity: I am taking an online course via New York University, and one of the course requirements is to set up a blog. So, here I am, much later than everyone else, but at least I got here.
Today, Valentine's Day, is my birthday. I am 68. I grew up in the 1950s in Roslindale, MA (just outside of Boston). It was an era that was still very conservative about male and female roles, where my dream of being in radio was considered inappropriate. Yes, there were women on the air, but they did "women's shows," talking about food or fashion or how to improve one's homemaking skills. None of that interested me. I loved baseball, I loved pop culture, and I knew I wanted to be a disc jockey. Radio d.j.'s and rock music had helped me to get through my childhood, cheering me up when I felt discouraged, and I wanted to provide the same encouragement and entertainment for some other lonely kid out there. When I got to college in the late 1960s, radio and TV still ruled. The internet, smart phones, and social media were a long time in the future. In fact, the only people who knew about the internet (or ARPANET, as it was then called) were in the military. I was always interested in current events and politics, but back then, I could only get my information from daily newspapers and weekly news-magazines. The idea that one day, I would be able to read Le Monde within minutes of a news story being posted, or listen to the BBC in real time, or watch a YouTube video of a song I loved was like something from a science fiction movie.
But now, it's 2015, and we all live in a world of instant communication; in fact, many of us take it for granted that websites will download quickly, or that our favorite news publication (most of which are now online) will update the moment a news story breaks. As I write this, people from about 10 countries and nearly ever state in the United States are simultaneously wishing me a happy birthday on my Facebook page. (During my radio career, I discovered a Canadian rock group called Rush, and we became friends. They went on to be very famous, and out of that relationship, I've inherited a large number of Rush fans who like to keep in touch because of my ties to their favorite band.) But my point is that if you had told me any of this would happen when I was growing up, I doubt I would have believed it. Yes, it's a different world, and not just technologically. As I get more accustomed to blogging, I'll talk about what has changed and what hasn't over the past few decades, especially as those changes pertain to the media-- after all, I'm a media historian. But now, I guess I am also a blogger. I don't know if I'll be good at it, nor do I know if anyone (other than the professor in the course I am taking) will read what I write. Only time will tell.