Saturday, October 27, 2012

Help, my children are pushing me into technology

Two events happened this weekend that bothered me. I lost a blog I had written. It was ready to post when it disappeared from my faithful computer like the morning mist.  Computer expert Joanna worked hard to find it using all search engines she could think of.  No luck.  I had to say good-bye to masterpiece. 

Joanna was somewhat philosophical about it. Maybe I really shouldn’t have written it. It was about my strong reaction to an article about church men using their male energy in a day of wild behavior, demolishing and blowing up old cars “to the glory of God.”  “Aggression is the essence of manliness,” they were told.  Oh yeah? Not the way I see it in this day of war, violence, and domestic abuse.

The other event? 

My children pushed me, once again, into more new electronic technology:  Facebook and a KindleFire device. 

Such items begin as a gleam in the eye of one of the children, not in mine, but I have to suffer the labor pains to bring them to life and nurture them thereafter. 

In the early 1980s son James insisted: “Mom, you can’t let yourself get much older without learning to use a computer.”

“But my parents and their parents before them lived to a ripe old age without learning. Why do I have to?”  I had all the counter-arguments down pat.

“If you want a head start into old age, you’ve got to use a computer. Old age and computers are a compatible team.  Can’t you see yourself several decades down the road—you’re old, making doorstops out of catalogs—but with a computer you could have fun playing games – Mystery Writing, Adventures in Medications, Committee Strategy.

“I can see myself with a scrambled brain learning all these new commands.  Years ago my writing teacher talked only about curves, straight lines, and whether to write above or below the line. With a computer I’d have to learn about Word Wrap and Soft Hyphens and Booting the system. I’m too old.”  I was not quite sixty at the time. 

“Mom, I’ve heard about people of ninety-five sitting on front of a computer  mastering it in a few hours.  Nothing to it....”

“Then how come some of them are growing extra fingers in their desperation to find all the keys?”

“You’re exaggerating, Mom. You’ll be a wonderful example to your grandchildren.  They’ll admire you sitting at your personal computer, writing them letters, balancing your checkbook,  logging into daily financial reports from New York to find out how your investments are doing.” 

“But, James, I’m already drowning in information, and I haven’t got any investments.” 

“Well, think of other advantages.  You could track where you’re on a waiting list for admittance to an old folks’ home to see if you’re near the top.”

“I love you, son, but the thought of a computer in the house scares me witless. I could never deal with a computer talking back to me.  I’m sure I’d break down and cry.  I couldn’t sleep nights wondering if it was plotting against me for having told it to Change Logged Disk Drive when it wanted to Abandon File Without Saving.” 

 “Listen, you can take a computer to bed with you and it wouldn’t  hurt a bit.  They’re tame as a kitten, like a pet, in fact. Before long, you’ll find yourself saying a loving good-night to it every evening. It’ll become friend, adviser, source of information ---.”

“But I can’t afford one.”  

“Nonsense. If you haven’t got one before you hit sixty, Mom, I can see you becoming a bag lady on the streets of  Hillsboro.” 

Me, a bag lady?  Roaming the streets of that little community? 

No way. I bought. James  set me up with a big IBM computer and a tractor feed printer. I was in business. Now I wouldn’t give it, e-mail  and the Internet up for anything.

About the same time as this life-changing event I needed a new tape recorder. The store clerk advised electronics.  I refused.  I bought a reel-to-reel recorder, which I used only a few times. I was still thinking in the old mode.

Next I welcomed a microwave oven, mobile phone,  cell phone, CD player, HD TV. Now,  this weekend,  I was unceremoniously enrolled on FaceBook and given a lesson on using  a Kindle reader and playing Scrabble on-line.   Now it’s up to me. And I want to shrink into a corner and whisper, “Enough already.” 

Monday,  after nearly everyone left after a family gathering,  Joanna and I looked at some old photos of my parents.  A series of pictures shows the evolution of my immigrant Mother from a dark, floor-length, Old Country-style dress to a snazzy dressmaker suit she had made for herself in a lovely green wool about ten to fifteen years later. How had she managed the changes in clothing while learning a new language and culture with such grace? 

Can I make this deeper plunge  into modern electronics as gracefully? 

I think of the 1940s when I worked as a legal secretary and  Ihad  to type documents with up to fifteen copies at one time on a manual typewriter.  Every mistake had to be erased carefully on each copy.   The finished product was carefully meticulously checked with the original with another secretary reading it, including punctuation and paragraphing. A lot has changed since then.Who would want to go back to that?

Okay, so I lost a blog.  No big deal. Just a lot of words. Ideas are without number. 

Will I master all this new stuff?   Not today, maybe not even tomorrow,  but I can only try.  

Facebook, Kindle, Scrabble, here I come – slowly. If I drown, someone please help!.

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