The 1978 Academy Award Best Picture, Annie Hall. A 2014 middle school Open House.

You wouldn’t think these two events would have anything in common.  Yet, after experiencing both this past week, I was consumed with a similar feeling.

Let’s start with Annie Hall, shall we?

There’s a scene in this film where the main characters, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) are standing in line for a movie.

I was compelled to hit pause in order to relive those days. Everyone is looking straight ahead or toward the person standing next to them. Not down. Not moving their thumbs across a tiny screen.

In fact, the absence of  today’s technology became a character in itself. I kept imagining a remake. How perhaps instead of talking to the audience, Alvy would tweet his observations about the obnoxious man standing behind them. 

#annoyingman #moviemenace Will he ever shut up? 

#Loud #irritating #personalspaceinvader What is with this guy? 

That guy behind Alvy is like all those people in who talk on their cell phones in line at Starbucks, the market and of course, the movies. You all know what I’m talking about.  

Let’s move on to a modern day middle school Open House.

That technology missing from Annie Hall was everywhere around us. It was the main character in the principal’s opening speech. And prevalent in every classroom. 

All the teachers have email addresses. The school has a website. Parents and students have individual logins. Grades can be checked hourly (presumably some parents actually do this.) Homework is posted daily. And electronic devices are allowed in order to use the various learning apps.

Not like when I went to Junior High.

But once in the room, it became very familiar. The same wooden desks, the wall posters, the work stations, and the books. 

The same books (with our budget these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the exact same books)  teaching the same things I learned in sixth grade. 

Walking through the hallways, I could picture a teenaged Annie Hall fitting in quite nicely.

As I said, I came away from watching this movie and from spending a few hours in Middle School with one main thought: 

The more things change, the more they actually stay the same.


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Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again.  She writes about how life is NOW compared to THEN, with her special blend of funny and sweet. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love.  And she has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth.  She is a staff writer at In The Powder Roomand blogs frequently for The Huffington Post. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To learn more about Janie visit her blog and her website