One of the most important draws to technology is its ability to make lives easier. The million-dollar question is now the “Give me two seconds to Google the answer.” No longer do you have to wait for the record store, scratch that, department store to open to buy an album by your favorite band on its release day. Just hope iTunes at midnight and the music is on your computer in less than five minutes. Probably less than two, depending on your Internet connection.
Technology is good.
But there is a dark side to technology. It’s a pickpocket. And it’s a good one. Technology stole the record store. It’s stealing bookstores. Sure, this can be viewed as evolution. And, honestly, there is nothing we can do about it. We can support the record stores and bookstores, but the force is strong in technology. My friends and I had this tradition in the nineties. Whenever a rock band that we liked was about to release a new album, we would drive to the record store at midnight to be the first to get it. This only worked with the Pearl Jams of the world. The record store wasn’t opening earlier for Sonic Youth. That’s a tradition I loved. A tradition that can only live on in memories.
While some things are out of our control, we can save our holiday traditions. And technology can better them.
A Little Less Jolly
Christmas has changed throughout the years. It’s not hard to find someone to debate the topic of has Christmas lost its luster. There is only one way to answer that — if it has, it’s your own fault. Christmas is Christmas. The original 1934 version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sounds different than Bruce Springsteen’s rendition. But Santa is still coming to town and he knows who’s been naughty and nice.
If Christmas doesn’t have the same meaning it once had to you, it’s because you’ve changed. Maybe you like the change, but if you miss the traditions, you can get them back. Christmas will welcome you home with open arms. And your smartphone can make the memories last a lifetime.
A Memory-Making Machine
Say you miss that relative that has too much “eggnog” at Christmas dinner and decides to take a nap right before the exchange of presents. He’s still there, you just missed him because you were too busy trying to clear level 91 of Candy Crush. Make better use of your phone and record of
Vine of the sleeping relative. Maybe the video will go viral, but at the very least, you’re supplying entertainment for next Christmas.
Social media is the inspiration for many apps that allow you to capture your magic moments and post them online. Vine lets users upload clips of a maximum length of six seconds. No drawn out director’s cut here, just the good stuff.
The Polaroid camera is somewhere bragging to the Betamax that it used to be in pictures. Digital is where it’s at these days. From digital cameras to smartphones, photo taking has never been easier. Granted, a SD-card doesn’t have the same pizzazz of shaking film and watching an image appear. But digital photos are forever. There is no fear of loss or deterioration. It’s the best of both worlds. You can still have prints. Apps such as Shutterfly give you the option of creating prints right from your smartphone. And if you enjoy scrapbooks, you can still make them, but with the added security of knowing you have a backup. Online, there is an option of the never-ending scrapbook. Sites like Flickr give users free storage to host photos. Flickr offers a terabyte of storage for free. That basically equates to 500,000 photos from a mobile phone.
The Song Remains the Same
It’s hard to think about holiday tradition without hearing yuletide carols being sung by a choir or thinking of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Music plays a big role in getting into the Christmas spirit.
The roots of Christmas caroling date back to the 19th Century. And while caroling is a sure sign that the holiday season is upon us, it’s the classics that take over the airwaves that put people in a jolly mood. This is not a proven fact, so don’t quote me, but I believe road rage drops drastically once the Christmas channels appear on the radio.
Nat “King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” and Run D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” have enough Christmas cheer to turn any Scrooge’s frown upside-down. But technology is changing the way we listen to these holiday traditions. I remember being a kid and listening to Elvis’s Christmas Album over and over again because no one wanted to change the CD.
Those days are gone.
Sites such as Spotify provide all the Christmas music you could ever want — for free. The free Spotify account does have commercials. If you want to skip the ads, a subscription is under five dollars a month. Spotify allows uses to create playlists with ease. Gather around with your family and create your own Christmas playlist. A tradition that you can share and add to every year.
A Present for that “Hard to Buy For” Person
There is at least one person on everyone’s Christmas list that is impossible to shop for, let subscription services help you.
In the last few years subscription services have become popular on the Internet. Consumers can subscribe to anything from coffee to ice cream. Who doesn’t like ice cream?
Subscriptions services are available to for just about any budget. Netflix and Hulu Plus are good (and cheap) for movie and television lovers. Here is a list of other services that may be what’s missing on your Christmas list.
NatureBox (healthy snacks)
LootCrate (for game lovers)
BirchBox (for fashion and style)
GlobeIn (original handmade crafts)
Dollar Shave Club (men’s razors)
MilkMade (ice cream)
Mantry (food tailored toward men)
BarkBox (dog treats and toys)
BespokePost (boxes for every occasion)
Other subscription ideas — you can’t go wrong with magazines. Check Amazon for subscription deals. Wired magazine is only five dollars for a six-month subscription.
Technology is our friend. Sure, it has the tendency to cause the “Oh look, a shiny object, effect” and we miss something important like Uncle Eddie snoring at the table. But by embracing it, that moment can be captured and replayed whenever you like. And not to mention shared with every one of your facebook friends. SM