According to commentator Rober Chipkin, every once in a while the wheels of progress turn so swiftly you don’t realize you’ve come full circle. This happened to him recently, while watching a TV commercial that came on during the news.
Apparently some 21st century whiz kid/entrepreneur has developed an app that will take an Instagram photo and -- get this -- turn it into a post card. Then, double-get-this, the post card will be sent through the US mail to arrive by letter carrier several days later. This allows the recipient to partake in the long forgotten ritual of getting mail that doesn’t ding its arrival through the phone.
A post card. Imagine that. And while I’m imagining, I’m imagining stooping down to gather up the day’s post and picking up something that isn’t a bunch of coupons, takeout menus or requests for money. Instead, I find this sign that someone has actually thought enough about me to send a relic of a long forgotten era.
And if I can imagine that, imagine what else I can imagine.
How about an app on my phone that, with the touch of a button, presents an image of -- get this -- a phone completely unable to send messages or take pictures, but which must actually be dialed, and whose only additional function is to provide an actual busy signal when the person I am calling is -- get this -- busy?
Or what about a 70-inch smart TV that, with a tap, will shrink its screen to 16 inches and project only black and white images controlled by a set of buttons quizzically marked horizontal, vertical and contrast?
Such a TV will get only four channels, one of which broadcasts only nature shows strictly about animals I’ve never heard of that are about to go extinct. What’s more, a little before midnight, those channels will go dark, preceded only by a playing of the national anthem against the backdrop of a jet fighter plane flying nowhere in particular but nevertheless guaranteeing that that the world will still be around when I awake.
Looking around my house, the retro possibilities brought on by advanced technology are endless. An app to provide a radio station that goes in and out because of static. Another with a computer too large and bulky for my desk. A third that will print out the day’s sports news and deliver it to my door, a day late.
Why, it’s all enough to inspire me to take a picture and send it to myself as a post card.
Robert Chipkin is a writer and columnist who lives in Springfield.