Lost in Austen

One of the most cringe worthy moments in episode one of Lost in Austen, was when Amanda mentioned she would like to clean her teeth and Jane Bennet proceeded to tell her “The instruments are already before you,” panning out to an image of birch twigs, powdered salt, and chalk. I then, getting over my initial disgust, curiously googled how this products were used to actually clean teeth and came upon a wordpress page (yay!) entitled Jane Austen’s World, “Dental Hygiene in the Regency Period.” My initial thought (the birch twigs were used as some form of toothbrush), was quickly proved wrong, but my disgust did not diminish when I learned that, in reality, the twigs were chewed on to freshen breath. In addition to the twigs, the salt and chalk were combined and then rubbed on the teeth using a rag.

It is certainly clear how what we regard as little technological advancements like toothbrushes and toothpaste, were actually quite large advancements for those back in the 19th century. Even cleaning your teeth can affect the scale, pace, and pattern of one’s life. In the 19th century someone would have to go out a find birch twigs and break them, buy salt, chalk, and a rag, and then mix the two together and proceed to use the rag to clean the teeth, wash, and then chew on twigs to finish. This is quite a long process and many items have to be bought and found, whereas in modern day we can go to one store and buy a toothbrush and toothpaste, go home and squeeze the paste onto the brush, brush, then rinse and we are finished. Modern technology has made brushing faster, more efficient, and more accessible.

Another example of technology changing over the centuries in Lost in Austen comes when Amanda asks Kitty how she gets her ringlets, and Kitty replies “by the application of hot irons.” I was actually unaware that any form of hot irons were used in the 19th century and I thought that curls were formed only by tying up bits of hair in cloth and sleeping on it. Again, this sparked my curiosity and I felt the need to go to google for more information. I was taken to a website called Body Arts and a article entitled “Wig curlers and hair tongs.” After reading more information and pursuing images of “hot irons,” I learned hot irons were in fact, hair tongs. These hair tongs were heated on the stove or a spirit burner and then used to curl the hair.

While I don’t curl my hair regularly, as my hair is naturally curly, I have used hair curlers or “hot irons” in the past and they are a quick and effective way of getting a desired curl. 19th Century methods of curling hair was a lot less efficient, but still effective nonetheless. Hair tongs is another example of how technology’s scale, pace, and pattern can be effected with technological advances. In the 19th century one would have to go out and buy hair tongs, take time to heat the tongs on the stove, then curl your hair with a larger risk of burning yourself, and it was much more time consuming- as the tongs were heated on the stove, they would cool down much quicker than modern hair curlers, so you would have to continuously reheat the tongs as you’re curling your hair. Modern advancements in electricity have made curling our hair much easier, safer, and quicker. In the 21st Century all you need to do is go out a buy a curling iron, plug it in the wall when you get home, and proceed to curl your hair while the curler stays heated for the entire process.

The Real Housewives of Jane Austen

Reality shows like The Bachelor and Keeping Up With the Kardashians can have a huge impact on the scale, pace, and pattern of the lives of those involved in the shows. Contestants on The Bachelor get monetary gain in more than one fashion, not only are they paid for their appearances on the show, but they also gain fame and notoriety, though sometimes not positive notoriety. The lives of the men and women on The Bachelor(ette) can change for better and worse; while they gain money and fame, they also receive harsh criticism and backlash from the world watching, their performance on the show can have an impact on family and future relationships as well as job opportunities, and because of the newfound notoriety, the participants give up a large portion of their privacy for sometimes an extremely long time. Getting involved with reality TV is an extremely risky decision to make, but sometimes those that take the risk reap the rewards, as shown by the stars of Keeping Up With the Kardashians , whose on screen TV antics have entertained millions.

Author Sophie Gilbert briefly mentions social media in her article and in my opinion social media is one of the most influential aspects of 21st Century technology. Social media allows people to have a relationship with celebrities and online friends, change the way you’re portrayed and the way in which people perceive you, and allows for momentary escape from an average person’s dull everyday life. All of this and more immensely change the scale, pace, and pattern of our lives. Social media allows its users to create a falsified relationship with people you would otherwise never meet, like celebrities. The Kardashian’s are just one example of how celebrities create this false close personal relationship with their fans in order to stay popular and fans then get this fake sense of attachment that is unintentionally one-sided. Social media can also allow its users to create whole worlds where everything is different than every day life. Tumblr users can create blogs where their lives are portrayed as completely different than reality, almost creating character versions of yourself that yourself and others can look at through a window. Social media also take a huge chuck of time out of the everyday persons day, studies show that on average people spend hours on a combination of social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. But, though social media definitely has negative ramifications, there are also a lot of positives as well. For example, social media is a massive way that younger generations stay informed, whether on politics or world news, social media is a great way for its users to educate and inform others.