Monthly Archives: August 2021

The analog internet

It’s a humbling experience when you reach that point in life when you realize that even your nine-year-old grandson has outdistanced you on the technology superhighway. But that is precisely what happened when Arthur was visiting a week or so ago, because apparently, he’s a technological little wiz.

“Grandma, what are all these books that are the same?” he asked, while I was busy in the kitchen. He was bent to a lower bookshelf in the dining room, peering at the contents with a kind of offhand curiousity.

“Those are my encyclopedia,” I said, not listening as I rushed around, trying to get the meal ready.

“Why did you buy so many that are the same?” came the next question.

“They are not all the same one,” I answered, thinking maybe now was a good lesson for him about “the good old days.” Bending down to join him at the shelf, I pontificated, “These are like your internet, but they are in book form. For instance, suppose you wanted to look up squash.” I pulled out the S encyclopedia, which happens to be divided into two books. I pulled out the wrong one first, of course, and then I fumbled, searching desperately for squash.

“Here we are, squash,” I said, triumphant at last, pointing to the page and looking up at Arthur. He was wearing a look that was a cross between, “oh, my gosh, my grandma is old,” and “in the amount of time you took to look that up, I could have grown a squash.”

As he wandered away to play on his tablet (which I have discovered has nothing to do with paper, by the way), I was left to contemplate the fact that the “information age” has passed me by for certain. I still use those encyclopedias to look things up and not only that, I am in possession of what might be the last paper dictionary in existence.

I admit, I have not even tried to keep up. The advent of the cell phone has left me cold. I don’t mind sitting in one spot and talking on the telephone and I don’t care that my telephone will not take and distribute pictures. Cell phones today do a great deal more than provide vocal communication, they do just about everything but wash your hair (side note, when they do that, or clean the bathroom, sign me up).

It is impossible to go to a restaurant or a social event or even a classroom without seeing those phones in everyone’s hands. They apparently provide all the social contact some need, because I see so many people in restaurants sitting across the table from someone, conversing with someone entirely different on the phone. I used to wonder if I took off my clothes in one of those public places, how long would it take for anyone to notice? Of course, if they did, there would be some interesting pictures of me on Snapchat or something! There are actually support groups out there for people who are too attached to their phones…usually they communicate with each other on phones!

Phones have even affected my conversations with people– those who will look up from their phones long enough to talk. I never say, “I think squash was introduced by Native Americans to….” because I get that far before a forest of phones have cropped up in the hands of everyone there to check out that fact for me. For the record, I was okay with not being sure!

If there is anything worse than the cell phone age, it might be Alexa or Google or whatever invasive, know-it-all machine you want to let into your house. Okay, I get it, this is information at your fingertips, without having to do anything but say, “Alexa, what can you tell me about the origin of squash?” I’d still rather look it up on my own, in the quiet of my dining room, in one of my books that “all look like the same book.”

I once heard a disturbing story about the family with an Alexa, who all scattered in different directions one morning except for one daughter, who slept late, got up and wondered aloud where everyone had gone. Alexa answered her and was correct. Seriously, people are afraid of a tracing chip in their arms, when they tell Alexa everything, everyday, and they don’t know–maybe she works for the CIA!

So my grandson may have to grow up with the fact that his grandma is still addicted to her “analog internet,” and a phone that connects to the wall. And who knows what his grandchildren will be doing when he finds that he has taken a sidetrack on the railroad of progress into the future?

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A technological dinosaur

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I’m old. I’m the first to admit it. There are so many years between me and the kid who is happily operating the computer in the picture that it taxes my math skills to figure it out. This, of course, leads to the observation that my technology skills are about as useful as a shovel digging a hole in the water.

My humble excuse is that when I was born, computers were not an everyday item. I took classes in college, learning how to write cards for computer systems and then I walked across campus to feed them into the only computer in the school, which encompassed an entire room. There were so many people who would feed their cards into the computer and they would produce something wonderful. When I fed my cards into the computer, the computer made strange beeping noises and spit my cards out like they were so many pieces of burned meat.

My computer skills have never improved. As computers began to shrink, they took on more and more tasks. And each time, I was left further and further behind. By the time computers were controlled on keyboards and they fit on a desk, so many tasks had been taken over by computers, while I continued to write with paper and pencil and manage my checkbook with a calculator and even more significantly, I continued to talk on a telephone…attached to the wall.

I think it was when the computer switched to a cellphone that I realized I would never make it. I have just learned to type on a computer, maybe do some Facebook and even, check e-mail, and now technology is moving on leaving me in its gigawatted wake.

I have become that individual who knows just enough about technology to be dangerous. “Okay, I got my e-mail open, how do I check for new correspondence,” would be a typical question I have. “Click on the little envelope icon,” my child (who else would we consult) says with studied patience. “I hit the wrong thing, I hit the wrong thing. Now I’m in something called The Help Store. How do I get out of it?”

As if that weren’t enough, they have now moved all of those programs, or “apps” if I want to be up to date on terminology, to cell-phones. They have made these hand-held devises the new norm for most people. For me, I have trouble turning mine on and I usually pray no one calls me, because I don’t ever remember which way to swipe it to open it–is it right or left? Then, when I get in, I have to remember my password–no not the password for my e-mail or my Facebook that I can never remember, it’s the password for my phone that I definitely don’t remember!

Most people use their phones for everything: paying bills, reading the news, buying tickets. You name it and there is pretty much nothing that a phone can do today that I won’t be able to figure out. I ordered a plane ticket the other day and according to those cell-phone people I will be able to bring it up at the gate, show them my phone, and get on the plane. I figure there is a fifty-fifty chance I will be successful at that, so I’m either leaving for a four-day vacation, or I’m planning to sit in an airport lounge tomorrow morning and cry.

I know that my game of “continual get with the program” will not get me very far, but it has gotten me listed as the dinosaur of the technology community. And you know what? I think I’m okay with that, until the technological meteor strikes!

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