My whole family is getting over being sick (here’s a story about that) and as I reflected on the experience I was thinking how nice it would have been to have the kinds of beds they had 150 years ago (pre-industrial age) where you would clean a mattress after someone threw up on it by emptying it, washing the cover, and then filling it with fresh stuffing. The old, soiled filler could be discarded or burned. Now we have mattresses that are “permanent” so when my daughter wakes up from her nap throwing up we have to clean all the covers and try to clean the mattress and then live with the fact that it’s never going to be entirely clean.
When we moved from temporary mattress filling to permanent mattresses we did not keep all the beneficial traits of the old mattresses. Perhaps someone should market a disposable sick-bed. Hospital beds have vinyl coverings so they can be wiped, disinfected, and covered with new sheets. Crib mattresses (at least the ones we have) are the same, but regular mattresses have lost that trait from the mattresses that our great-great-grandparents used to have.
I’m not suggesting that we should go back to those mattresses – though I was tempted to when the thought first struck me. I think we have many products to help mitigate that difference. However, the thought struck me that there is no such thing as a flawless upgrade when we start using new technology like that. There is always some characteristic that we might overlook which has its benefits. It’s something to think about as we rush onward with new technologies and find that it is easy to see their strengths. Sometimes we have to take a step back and see if we might have missed some strengths from the old technology.