Ive often thought about the new commonplace practices in society that someone from 1920 might find odd if they suddenly landed in the here and now. We all take them for granted, but if you pay attention, you have to find these phenomena weird. With only a couple of exceptions, all of the following changes are due to technology.
SMOKERS OUTSIDE THE BUILDING. Let me begin with the one new commonplace practice that has less to do with technology than with legislation. And thats the crowd of people huddled in a group outside a building smoking cigarettes. This would have to be a weird sight for people from 1920. We dont think much about it, but it is indeed a weird sight.
DIGITAL CAMERA ARM STRETCH. Okay, lets get to the meat of this essay. Perhaps the weirdest societal change has to do with digital cameras and the practice of framing shots in the preview window by holding the camera out in front of yourself. Even ten years ago, nobody would have predicted that most people would now take pictures this way. Give people a pro digital SLR camera and they will still hold the thing in front of them at arms length. I find it amusing to go to a tourist area and see all these people using the cameras this way.
An offshoot of this practice is now passing the camera around so people can look at the pics from the camera screen in much the same way as they used to pass around packs of 3-by-5 prints.
THE CELL PHONE BENT NECK. The second big change is people walking around town or in the store with cell phones up against their ears, talking loudly into them. There is even a cocked-head pose that is distinctive to this new commonplace practice. An offshoot of this is the people who routinely walk around with those creepy Bluetooth earpieces attached to their ears 24/7—which makes them look like the Borg.