I’ve recently been binge watching seasons of Friends on Netflix. It’s mindless TV watching at its finest. Watching the show set in the 90s has made me realize a few things. As a child and teenager I remember watching films and series and there are certain scenes that for a while were present in many of these shows. Most of them had to do with the technology of the day. The ways in which people relate to each other on a human level hasn’t changed much, but what has changed completely is the technology we use.
When I was a child and young adolescent I recall scenes from so many movies where the young protagonist with some entry level job would come home to her NYC apartment, arms full of brown paper bags filled with groceries and usually a bunch of flowers. She would dump the bags on the counter and then go to her answering machine, push some button and listen to her messages. More often than not someone would leave a very important message on the answering machine. She usually then forgets about the groceries, flops down on the couch in elation because her life is finally coming together. What happened to that big ass carton of milk she unpacked? Why does she even have such a big carton of milk in the first place? She lives alone. Anyway let me not get too caught up, though I really want to. In Coyote Ugly, Violet comes home and hears a message on her answering machine asking her to perform, and in my recent binge of Friends, Monica’s love interest leaves a message on her answering machine. I’m sure you can think of many more and let’s not even get into Wicker Park where the whole premise of the film hinges on answering machines and their clear limitations.
Now as an adult in 2018 I realise that while you still can’t fight the moonlight, I will never have an answering machine, and it sucks! Yeah people occasionally leave a voice mail on my iPhone, but it’s not the same dammit! As a young person watching those American movies, I dreamed of the time when I would have an answering machine and some guy would leave a message and I’d be so happy about it! It didn’t matter that living alone wouldn’t have been an option for me considering my cultural background. It was a dream nonetheless. Growing up, we didn’t have answering machines like in the movies, but it added to the mystery and allure of the life that I would one day lead.
I spent half of my twenties living alone in Istanbul (au contraire to what I thought was possible back when I was a kid). And while I dumped bags of groceries on counters and I received WhatsApp messages from guys that made very happy, it wasn’t as I imagined in terms of my fantasies from when I was a kid in the 90s. I’m so grateful the advances in technology and for the fact that I can communicate so easily with anyone, and for the fact that I won’t lose the love of my life because some vindictive excuse for a friend deletes the messages off my answering machine. It’s a testament to the fact that life as a grown up isn’t what you expect to be. We know this, we experience it every day, and being a Millenial seems to make the expectation vs reality of life all the more stark.
I wonder, will future generations watch current day movies and series and have a similar yearning when no doubt tech will have changed drastically. Will they look at iPhones and WhatsApp messaging and wish that they too could experience it? Will we ourselves yearn for this time and moment when we communicate in the ways that we currently do? Time will tell as the cliché goes, but it’s hard to imagine a time when our current tech experiences will seem sweet and lovely and exciting.