For almost seven decades, ten ladies have met for lunch on May 8, to celebrate their friendship and shared history. Over the last few years the annual lunch has been fractured and interrupted, and Lily is convinced that modern technology is to blame. But “Lily the Luddite” as her friends call her, comes to recognize that we have to embrace the time were living in, before we can dial up the past. A short story.
Lily Evans could have told Jon Watson, exactly what was wrong with her friends—in two words to be precise and with capital letters. MODERN TECHNOLOGY. As she glanced at the nine women she had known since childhood; Lily couldn’t help but wish for the return of the “good old days.” Lunchtimes spent reminiscing on the past—days of darkness and danger, colour and hope—telling stories that had brought and bound them together.
The rot had set in, a few years after the move to The Ritz. Ruby had brought a mobile phone to the annual lunch—a great clunking device that made its presence known every fifteen minutes, and its owner who ran a large, multinational company, said it was imperative the phone must not be ignored. It was the beginning of intrusive lunches.
Shortly after Eva’s monetary success with husband number four, she had bought a mobile phone and soon persuaded her friends to follow suit. It wasn’t long before, during the annual lunch, the ladies were heard arranging dates for plumbers to call, and fielding calls from irate husbands and needy children.
Then Eva bought a computer, and before you could say, “windows,” the annual get-together was being organized by email, followed by streams of witty cartoons, vulgar jokes and the computer equivalent of chain letters. And in the last few years, the gadgetry had proliferated beyond control. All sorts of devices, whose names Lily couldn’t recall, except she knew they were preceded by a small i. That just about sums it up, thought Lily, i—i—i—. We are now living in a world that revolves around the individual, rather than the community.
“Nonsense, Lily,” Eva said when her friend voiced her concerns. “These devices you so despise are a wonderful tool in connecting the global community. Dissidents in politically unstable countries now feel they have a voice and an audience, and the housebound are once again connected to the outside world. Why only the other day, I found Lancelot Smith on Facebook. Do you remember him from school, Lily? The boy with buck teeth and acne? Why he’s turned out to be a fine specimen of a man and he’s recently widowed. I suggested he come and pay me a visit. Now Lily, you have to confess, that would never have been possible without modern technology.”
Lily thought poor Lancelot Smith might live to rue the day he accepted Eva Turner as his friend.
“Honestly, Lily, you should stop being such a Luddite,” Eva continued.