Take a step back in time. It's the 1800s, you've finished a hard day at work in the bottle factory, and you want to put your feet up with a cuppa. But back then, to even boil water for a pot of tea, you'd have to fetch water from a communal water supply, collect firewood, and heat the water over a stove or fire. Not to mention importing the tea from India, China or Japan by sailing ship in the first place! With the invention of the electric kettle, a steady supply of safe water and ready-made teabags, we can now make a cup of tea with the twist of a tap and the flick of a switch.
Without doubt, life was harder back then than it is today: inventions have played a big role in making life easier. But if you were sent back in time to even just a few decades ago, do you think you'd be able to cope? 40% of Americans aged 16-25 said no, that they couldn't imagine life without fresh technology such as smart-phones or tablets, the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index revealed in January 2012i.
Recent polls about great inventions have seen people focus on contemporary advances over sometimes more world changing creations. While respondents to a 2010 poll by British supermarket chain Tesco did nominate the wheel as the greatest invention in history, those surveyed also nominated the iPhone, PC and the Internet in the top 10ii. And BBC Radio 4 listeners voted the bicycle, radio, transistor, computer, internal combustion engine and Internet among their top inventions since 1800iii. The common theme among these polls is that people often overlook the comfort we enjoy in day-to-day life from the wide range of simple inventions.
Reality television programmes over the last few years have tinkered with exactly this idea - taking away the creature comforts of today in exchange for the technological hardships of another time.
Electric Dreams is a British-based reality-documentary television series (released in 2009) that explores how the technological revolution of three decades - the 1970s, 80s and 90s - affected the lifestyle of a typical householdiv.In the series, the Sullivan-Barnes family experienced technology transforming in dizzying speed", with the passing of a day equating to a year. Not surprisingly, viewers witnessed them struggle without the modern technology we have become accustomed to. In particular, the family embraced particular advancements with open arms including the replacement for the twin tub washing machinev, the microwave, the freezerv, and the Walkmanv. Not the most obvious pick for life-changing technologies, these things were clearly missed by the show's guinea-pig family!
There are many more documentary-style television series comparing modern day and eras past. There's The High Street (UK)vi, where shop-keeping families are transported to the birth of the high street in 1870s; Frontier House (US)vii, where families were sent back in time to establish a homestead and face the harsh winter of Montana in 1883. And then there's also The 1900 House (UK)viii, where a modern family re-lives life in 1900. As we see these families struggle without shampoo, central heating, electricity, indoor plumbing, and convenience-food, it's evident just how much impact these modern inventions have had on our lives.
Modern inventions have without a doubt made life easier, it wasn't too long ago when we turned to books for information, we kept in touch via letters and a ship was considered the fastest way to travel between continents! And while it is important to appreciate modern technology and the convenience that goes with it, its also important to take the time to appreciate what makes your life great. Whether it be friends, family, those special moments on holidays or all jumping in the new car to drive around the block, those things deserve protection. Life insurance is one way you can ensure those special moments are still there if something were to happen to you. Life insurance can protect your lifestyle and secure your own and your family's financial future, by providing a lump sum payment in the event of an accident, illness or death.
i Lemelson –MIT, 2012, Young Americans recognize the impact of innovation on U.S economy and personal lives according to new survey, http://web.mit.edu/invent/n-pressreleases/n-press-12index.html
ii The Telegraph, 2010, Britons vote for the iPhone as most important invention ahead of flushing loo and space travel, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/7738684/Britons-vote-for-the-iPhone-as-most-important-invention-ahead-of-flushing-loo-and-space-travel.html
iii BBC, 2005, Bicycle chosen as best invention, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4513929.stm
iv BBC, 2009, Electric Dreams, http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricdreams/about.shtml
v BBC, 2009, Electric Dream: 1970s episode 3/6, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8kzF9HwvwE&feature=BFa&list=PL3BE8C2D5210E3C48
vi BBC, 2010, The High Street, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v7p71
vii PBS, 2002, Frontier House, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/
viii PBS, 1999, The 1900 House, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/1900house/