Postcard from - The Past

Like many people of my generation, my past has had it's colourful moments. Things that involved fireworks and roses, home-made canons and airguns and garden gnomes. At the time, each of them seemed an OK thing to do. No-one got hurt and the collateral damage was mostly light.

It occurred to me how different things would be today. At the least, making a working canon at school would be frowned upon, and not just for the potential danger both to me and to the byestanders when I tested it. Several times.

At the time, there was no official involvement. No police, no enquiries and no public record. Well, apart from the garden gnomes which made the local papers, but prior to digitisation, low circulation local papers came and went pretty quickly.

Consider the difference today. A school kid making a simple canon would likely have a visit to the principal, and depending on how that went, maybe even a visit from the local police. There would be a record that's unlikely to be removed, perhaps one with the tag "potential terrorist incident".

When I was growing up, records of all kinds were usually manually created and maintained, and that translated into effort. So, the less important incidents resulted in little paperwork, and what there was had a short life.

Consider 2016. Schools have cameras and detailed online records are the norm. If I built a working canon today, it's by no means certain that it would be flagged as an engineering success.

When we're young, we all do things that seem to be OK at the time, but with adult-hood comes a realisation that others may not see them in the same light. In these days of both active and passive surveillance, our past may well keep up with us. I suspect that some young people are finding this the hard way, and it's not going to get any better.

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