Times Change

Smoky River Regional Economic Development

Dan Dibbelt

Times change. A year ago we had a different party running our government, oil was trading at about $100 a barrel and the Canadian dollar was on par with our American neighbours. Today we have a new, environmentally conscious, pro-labour government. Oil is around $40 per barrel and the Canadian Loonie is surging back up there around 75 cents to the American dollar.

Is it time to panic? Perhaps not. I graduated from Journalism some 35 years ago. Back then the world was a different place. Communism was strong, the Berlin Wall was still standing, we had not heard of ISIS, al-Qaida or even terrorism. The internet was new, few people had email addresses and google and Facebook were unknown. There was talk about oil shortages, we were just recovering from a housing crash and a slow economy and I was younger – so life was simpler.

In the course of learning journalism, I learned shorthand and how to type on an electric typewriter. We took photographs with a SLR camera. We used film, which we developed in a darkroom. As we typed up our stories we would used a product called White-out to make corrections. We used carbon paper to make copies.

Our finished articles were reviewed by a copy writer or editor who would mark up our stories with a pencil. From there the article went on to a typesetter, a person who used little metal letters to replicate our stories that would then be put in a machine that printed off our articles in a format which we could use to assemble the newspaper.

Once we had the printed articles and the developed photos ready we would layout the newspaper on large sheets of cardboard like paper. We manually cut up the articles to make them fit the space. We used thin roles of black tape to make frames around articles and photos. Once the paper layout was complete it was off to the printing presses to print the newspapers.

If you were doing an article for another paper in another town, there was no such thing as email. Instead we would fax the story to the person – if they had a fax number. Photos, needed to be mailed or couriered.

Well time has changed all that. We type our stories on a laptop, use auto-correct to fix our spelling mistakes, and the software even corrects grammatical errors. We take photos with our phones, and email them to ourselves. We assemble the whole paper on our computer. And we can do all this in minutes or seconds. It’s pretty amazing.

As new technologies were developed there was a certain amount of hesitation in accepting the changes. One of the big reasons, was not that we were reluctant to accept change, it was that we weren’t sure what to adopt. Many of us went through the VHS vs BETA debate. Did you by an 8-Track a cassette player or stick with the LPS, which incidentally are all the rage now.

Eventually we all moved to CDs, well until lately, when it is hard to find one. Today everyone downloads their music. (Okay, I still like CDs and I still have LPs.)

When computers came out there was the debate between Apple and Microsoft. Apple branched off to so much more, but Microsoft seems to be the leader in computer sales.

Music Genre seemed to change just about every decade. I know its my age, but I do not recognize any of the Grammy or Oscar winners.

The reality is we are slow to accept change, because history has taught us, whatever we pick, well, that will change to. We had grown comfortable with the previous government. We may not have liked everything they proposed, but we pretty much knew what to expect.

When I was a kid, we were told our mothers hairspray had burned a hole in the ozone layer. We were told we were towards another ice age and we were told we were running out of oil. I don’t know how the ozone layer is doing, were told the ice caps are melting and the world is warming up and there is a glut of oil available.

Back then, they had science to prove everything they told, just like they do today. I am not saying they are wrong, I am just saying, please understand our hesitation on jumping on board with everything we are told.

The new provincial and federal governments have a strong environmental leaning. They tell us it is the best thing for the world’s longevity. Perhaps their right. But forgive us for hesitating when we see people out of jobs, people losing their homes and people afraid for their future. Perhaps it is time for the governments to slow down and reassure some of us old folks that while we make our province greener for our kids, we the people, will still have homes, jobs and a future for our kids.

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