Blaise Tapp: Does technology have to progress so fast?

OUTMODED?: Video cassettes seem unlikely to return to popularity.OUTMODED?: Video cassettes seem unlikely to return to popularity.
OUTMODED?: Video cassettes seem unlikely to return to popularity.
If you ever feel like the world is moving too quickly then join the club as you are not alone.

Just when you get used to a piece of technology, the sockless wonders in the Silicon Valley come up with something even more complicated than the thing you have struggled to master for the previous 12 months.

It never ceases to amaze me to see news reports about lengthy queues of obsessives and odd balls who camp through the night so they can get their hands on the latest iPhone or computer game before their mates do.

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This is big business as millions are spent on upgrading models of smartphones and increasing the number of prostitutes and drug dealers gamers can gun down on their Xboxes.

But I don’t get it. Yes, I have an all singing, all dancing phone which I controversially use for ringing and texting people and I also own a television the width of an envelope which comes with 350 channels of repeats and nonsense, but my heart belongs to simpler times.

I felt a twinge of sadness when it was reported that this month will see the last ever VHS videotape roll off the production line. Although I have not watched a video for well over a decade, my VHS recorder was only consigned to the scrapheap in the sky in the last couple of years.

It was a wrench to let it go as it provided a link to a more innocent past when Friday nights meant a family outing to the video shop, when we would rent three cassettes a week for a fiver. In the days of video you would have to put your name on a waiting list if you wanted to watch blockbusters such as Top Gun, a process which added to the excitement. The on demand culture of the early 21st century has rendered the discipline of patience obsolete, meaning that, unlike vinyl, it is inconceivable that VHS will ever make a nostalgic return several years down the line.

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Nobody misses laying on the carpet while twiddling a tiny dial in order to stop the picture from jumping across the screen. But as well as reminding us of happier times, video tapes looked good on living room shelves, not to mention the fact that the ‘blanks’ could be reused countless times.

I may well be on my own in mourning these ugly chunks of plastic but there are many essential items which have been, unnecessarily in my view, erased from our lives in the name of progress.

My seven-year-old has long been intrigued by telephone boxes – ‘Did people really have to use those, daddy?’ – but they are still essential today as I found to my cost when I suffered a public transport crisis after forgetting to charge my mobile. After a 10 minute hike to a local boozer I was met with baffled looks when I asked to use their payphone.

It is for this reason only that I still pay for a landline phone – another innovation from the last century which may well soon go the way of VHS.

Our past is rapidly disappearing before our eyes and I don’t like it one bit.