In times gone by, life was simple. And I am not talking one hundred years ago. We need not look that far. I am talking the seventies and the eighties. Life was simple. Life in Belize was rudimentary and basic. It was sort of communal, even if you occupied the towns and cities. Transportation was limited. Shops and grocery stores were basically local and neighborly. If one was respected and knew the shop owner, credit was allowed.
Official news came from the newspapers (such as the Amandala), which have been in circulation for quite some time. There was also the radio station that provided news updates as well, but of course, with much limitations at the time.
Unofficial news that broke would be shared across patched-up zinc fences between neighbors as two Creole bread or four journey cakes were exchanged amid a casual shush.
Updates were hollered across streets from one family member to the next as one neighbor would be up at the crack of dawn picking up the dirty clothes around the bath pan as the other would get the wood burning to stoke the fire and get the good old “fiah haat” rice and beans underway.
Then there were the early birds who would casually meet up along the barracks before the crack of dawn to empty their latrine buckets and engage in the usual morning gossip, totally ignoring the bucket’s stench.
Albeit, communication was unique. There were no cell phones, tablets, computers or all these fancy devices. News was relayed through word of mouth and was carried by feet. The elders would bathe and get dressed on a Sunday to go talk with a friend. I can vividly recall as a child when my own mother’s friends would come over around seven in the evening. As we slept at night, they would sometimes talk “til morning bruk.” Life was simple, yet so serene and pleasurable.
Fast forward to today, 2020. All that has changed. We live in a world or an era that is driven by technology. An era so vast and so powered by technology that many times it appears to be disenfranchising many people and leaving many others behind.
In other words, this era of technology is saying, get with it or get left behind. This has been trending for a while now, but has been exacerbated even more by the effects of COVID-19.
For instance, primary schools which don’t normally employ in-depth e-learning methodologies have been forced to adapt and get onboard. Churches which normally invite members to fill the pews and partake in the sermon, have been forced to adapt to online Sunday deliveries.
Elderly worshippers, whose only known tablets were their hymnals and prayer books have been forced to meet via Zoom meeting and download their Bibles and hymnals so as to read along. A lot has changed since.
The newspapers and newsrooms have begun to stream online. The merchandising of goods has shifted online. Rarely does one turn on the television set or the radio to catch the news anymore. The news is streamed and viewed, or even read online. As news breaks, with online technology, we have it at our fingertips. Even cable is becoming obsolete, as the modern televisions are more equipped with online streaming capabilities.
With the proliferation of technology and the advancement of mass media, social media has become a vital tool in our lives. The advancement of technology has also given us a new way to shop. We seldom get dressed and go downtown shopping anymore. We don’t engage in the once usual window shopping in an effort to decide which store has the best merchandise at the most affordable prices.
We simply shop online. We browse the online stores and we place our orders. Most of them offer national shipping, and some stores offer curb-side pickup. Oh, the bliss of technology.
But while the advancement in technology is laudable and is an amazing feature, it mustn’t be a hasty advancement. It must be adequately synchronized and properly rolled out so as to ensure seamless efficiency.
It also has its drawbacks and its limitations, and we must be mindful of that. As we endeavor to tread along in this technological era, we as a small developing country must remember that for us, it’s not a sprint to join the band, but a relay marathon that collectively brings everybody online and keeps them connected.
With all these advancements and proliferation of technology, there are still many people who for more reasons than one, cannot and will not be able to adapt and transition over fully to this technological age.
Yes, while technology is rampant and development and progression are vital for any nation, it mustn’t be done in a way that causes us to forget who we are and lose our simplicity. It also must not seek to disenfranchise those who cannot transition, for whatever reasons.
As we seek to advance in technology, we must simultaneously make it a point that we move at a pace that ensures all are included and no one is left out, just like in the good old days.
God Bless Belize!