I still can’t get used to carrying a contraption on my belt. Most boomers recall telephones attached to the wall or sitting on a table in our living rooms. I recall my aunt in Kansas had a green phone on the wall, which was a party line. Talk about privacy issues -- you didn’t say too much back in the day, as your neighbors just might listen to your conversation.

I continue to be amazed at technology today. The other day I talked with a friend who was in Glacier National Park in Montana at the time. He told me while out there he and his wife were able to have video chats with their grandkids.

Despite trying to keep my cell phone in a case on my belt, I still have trouble keeping track of it. I take it out and leave it in my truck, on my garage work table or by my computer. If it rings upstairs, I’m usually downstairs at the time or vice versa. I’m pretty sure I could do without one but no matter, 97%* of us have one. (*Unresearched, exaggerated statistic based on guess.)

1,000 times faster

Recently I have read a few articles about the telecom industry’s new 5G technology. I’m having a hard time grasping just how it will all work, but we are being told in these stories that it will revolutionize our day-to-day lives. In fact, we are in a “space race” of sorts with other countries, in particular China, over this technology.

I have called a few friends, all of whom know much more than I do. Jim, Al and Mark all told me it’s like a bigger pipeline that will be filled with even more information. A huge piece of this upgrade is speed. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, it said 5G is expected to be 100 times faster than today’s 4G. Another article said 1,000 times faster. Holy cow.

I think to myself, how in the world will this impact a guy like me? Why do I need more speed? I guess it will allow us to load more stuff, more videos or movies in a few seconds. I can guarantee you that I will never watch a movie on my cell phone. Most of us classified in the senior citizen category use cellphones and their technology much differently than our grandkids do.

Another article said with 5G we are moving toward “everything being connected.” 5G technology will enable us to wear even keener equipment like “smart watches” if we want to.

Electronic nanny

Maybe the companies like Verizon will evolve into a 007 secret agent type lab where we can select technology that we can wear on our ears, wrist, head, ankles, or wherever. We can be told what to eat, how far to walk, if our clothes match, when to change underwear and what is on our “to do” list.

Hmmm, I think I want to operate independently as long as I can. I would rather accidently forget what’s on my “to do” list than to be reminded throughout the day.

The Wall Street Journal article written by Stu Woo said the 5G connections “could enable innovations such as driverless cars, robot-run factories and remote surgery.” Gee, what could go wrong there – uhh, no thank you to the robot-run factories or driverless semi-trucks but I think we all understand these concepts are coming.

Al, who works in the aviation industry, told me planes already talk to each other in regards to issues such as collision avoidance without input from the pilot. Al said this “talking to each other” 5G communication is coming to vehicles we drive as well.

Al told me at some point I will need to just sit still in my truck and not touch anything. Wow, will I see that in my lifetime? Who knows? Maybe in several years not touching anything will be a good thing, as everything will be moving a little too fast for me.

Direction, not speed

More and more information will be gathered by the technology we use. There will be more privacy concerns. Where will that line be drawn? Certainly this capability will have a positive impact on the medical field, education, transportation and the retail world.

Unrelated in a sense, my granddaughter is currently rehearsing for her role in the upcoming middle school play “Oklahoma.” As a youngster, I remember watching the movie musical and to this day I remember several of the songs. One of the songs was titled, “Kansas” and a few lines of its lyrics are:

Everything’s up to date in Kansas City

They gone about as fer as they can go

They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high

About as high as a buildin’ orta grow.

How fer will we go? I recently read a quote that said, “”Direction is so much more important than speed.” I hope this technology keeps taking us in the right direction.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s Day in History column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com.

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