Today you are afraid of artificial intelligence, just like people of that era fear the Internet. Disappearing professionals, either to meet new challenges, to give old careers a new connotation of modern society; or simply change to do something else.
“At the age of seventeen or eight, I took 2,000 civilian codes back and forth. But just after graduation, I have not yet set foot on the job, and the civilian telegraph industry has been ruined.” This is the writer Cai Jun knows about the topic. The answer. Fifty years ago, China’s telegraph industry was still in its golden age. On this former information highway, many telegraphers like Cai Jun had a bright future vision, and the telegraph codes around the world were numerous.
The existing traditional occupations in our country have been reduced by thousands compared with 30 years ago. Some of these occupations did not completely disappear, but changed from manual technical work to machine operation.
Technical iteration is the main reason for the disappearance of occupation
When the civilian telegraph service is still in full swing, an important piece of information, after being coded and transmitted by the telegrapher, may take 5 or 6 hours to be sent to the other party. This seems unbelievable today, but it happened every day 50 years ago.
The telegrapher usually has a watch on his wrist and walks up to walk. Because in the telegraph industry, time is money, and every step of the operation is specified for a specific time limit.
In the telegraph building, the 24-hour conveyor belt is like the assembly line in the factory floor. The telegraphs on the above are affixed with strips of different colors according to the urgency, corresponding to different operating time limits. Red is an urgent order, blue is a government bill, and yellow is the most urgent.
Sometimes they need to work overtime all night. For example, in the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, the telegraph was mostly needed to be packed in sacks.
In addition to telegraphs, BP pagers are also one of the common communication tools of the last century. The BP machine is not cheap. The average monthly salary of an ordinary person may be only 600 yuan, but a BP machine may cost 2,000 yuan. Unlike the phone, the BP machine is not an instant messaging tool in the present sense. It can only accept information and cannot send information, nor does it have any entertainment functions. To get in touch with someone through the BP machine, you must pass the operator.
Because the operators are generally women, it was also called “Paging Miss” at that time. This is a popular profession at the time, with a monthly salary of 800 yuan a month. They sit at the main station every day and answer calls from all over the country.
“Hey, hello, please help me call XXX.” The person at the end reported his landline number, and the pager immediately helped to call the other party’s BP machine. After receiving the page, the other party will look for the nearest phone booth to be re-opened. The BP machine can only show that someone is looking for himself, but can’t know what the other party is looking for.
When it comes to newspapers, I have to mention the picking workers at that time. The word picker was the product of the era of printing. Before the emergence of laser phototypesetting technology, manual word sorting was the only way to print and print newspapers and books.
Every day, the editorial department’s manuscript was shipped, and the job of the word picker began. They stood in the forced space enclosed by the four-sided lead frame. The left hand held the manuscript, and the right hand skillfully took out the corresponding characters from different characters and placed them in the plate. The posture was like an old Chinese doctor who took medicine. A word “my country”, they may have to go to the east to take a “I”, and then to the west to take a “”. There are many Chinese characters with different font sizes in each frame. When you encounter common words like “” and “了”, the number of characters placed on the frame is much larger.
Picking words is not only fast, but also accurate. A punctuation mark cannot be wrong. When the picker has arranged a version of the article and handed it to the editor for proofreading, if a typo is found, it must be carefully clipped out with small pliers and re-insert the correct word. Sometimes it has to be repeated several times.
Long-term staring at these small letters like numb, many pickers have suffered from myopia. In addition, because lead is still toxic, long-term contact with lead can cause harm to the body. As a result, many locators also enjoy “toxic and hazardous post allowances”, although most are only given symbolically.
Where did the disappearing professional go?
The profession has disappeared, but the people who are engaged in the profession are still alive. Where have people who have been in those professions gone?
In the comparison of the 2015 Classification of the Occupational Classification of the People’s Republic of China, the most significant change in the quantity was the occupation of agriculture, and its occupational category dropped from 135 in 1999 to 52. A large number of traditional farmers have left the farmland because of the attraction of the city and chose to work in the city.
In addition, although it has been separated from the traditional peasant status, it has not left the agricultural industry in essence. For example, Xin Jianying, a farmer who had been reported by Xinhua News Agency, has transformed from a traditional peasant farmer who has worked as a farmer to a “hand drone.” She mastered the professional skills of manipulating plant protection drones and used them for spraying operations.
Behind this is the upgrading of the old profession by new technology.
Another direction of transformation is the elaboration of occupations. Today, when “exquisiteness” has become the mainstream value of the consumer era, the occupational classification that has been roughly divided has clearly failed to meet the needs of most people. For example, thirty years ago, you would be a chef if you would cook, but today people eat, maybe find a special cook, dessert chef, pastry baker, nutrition staff and so on.
The classification of occupations is becoming more and more detailed, and the old “all but not specialized” professions are gradually shifting towards a new and refined division of labor, which seems inevitable.
In the history of mankind, the disappearance of old occupations and the creation of new occupations are normal things.
Disappearing professionals, either to meet new challenges, to give old careers a new connotation of modern society; or simply change to do something else. Like the writer Cai Jun mentioned at the beginning, after more than 2,000 electronic codes were overwhelmed, the telegraph industry was replaced by mobile communication and the Internet. He also turned his head and wrote suspense novels.
Abandoned by the times, became art
Most of them are more traditional handicrafts or folk art industries. After the industrial revolution in the agricultural society, they were swallowed up by the tide of industrialization.
Such as the embroidery work profession. According to the book “The Disappearing Occupation”: “Embroidered women generally embroider pillowcases for guests, covering satin, silk scarves, cloaks, mosquito nets, tablecloths, patterns on clothes, etc., with landscapes, flowers, birds and dragons and phoenixes.” Embroidery is not only time-consuming but also laborious. The completion of an embroidery work lasts for ten days and a half, and it takes several months, and the price is high.
In the 1980s, computer embroidery machines appeared. At the time, the Weifang Embroidery Development Report mentioned: “The four large Swiss Sura machines are running around the clock, and the daily workload is equivalent to the workload of 5,000 people a day.” The embroiderers disappeared from the historical stage.
The embroidery artists we can see today, the artistic value of their work is far greater than the commercial value. After hundreds of years of history, embroidery has once again been pulled out of business and returned to the realm of art.
The shadow play, the ancient drama that began in the Western Han Dynasty in China, has been lost in nine genres today. In 2011, Li Jun and Bao Beier starred in the film “One Person’s Shadow Play”, showing the difficulty and confusion of a shadow artist adapting to modern society.
There is a scene in the film, the village suddenly stopped power, and children who did not watch TV ran to the square. The protagonist Ma Qianli ordered a few oil lamps, and performed a wonderful shadow on the square. Both adults and children saw their applause and excitement.
When the climax was reached, the village called. The children shouted “The lights are on!” The audience made a bird and a beast, leaving only a thousand miles. He looked up at the electric box that stood quietly in the darkness, hoarse and snarled: “Is it so difficult, can’t you let me finish?”
It is impossible for us to go back to the past, and it is even more impossible to turn off all the cinemas, forcing people to go to the theater to see the shadows. But it is undeniable that all the professions that are disappearing have once made up for the shortcomings of an era.