I didn’t want a cell phone. I was perfectly content with my land line telephone and felt no need to reach out, touch or be touched by anyone. I loved the quiet periods that came with driving, and wandering through shops and parks, alone and non-communicative. Now if I don’t answer my phone in the middle of dinner at a restaurant, callers worry and later reprimand me for having turned it off.
Technology frustrates and baffles me. When I reluctantly caved in and bought a cell phone I did it so I could call for help if I was lost or mugged. I hadn’t bargained for a built-in camera, a recording device, access to the Internet, e-mail and texting capabilities, games, a calculator and dozens of other alleged amenities that I never use, don’t need and don’t understand. I resent being prompted by a robot who doesn’t react when I scream obscenities at it. My greatest technological accomplishment this year was learning how to turn up my cell phone’s volume.
I watched a twelve year old kid text messaging on his cell phone. His fingers raced over the key pad nearly as fast as Kim Kardashian can remove her clothes. I thought if he could do it I could too, but he’d typed and sent a ten word message while I was still searching for the “I” in “Hi.”
My teenage granddaughter sent me an e-mail from her cell phone during History class in school. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she used text messaging abbreviations. She might as well have typed it in Swahili. To make a point, I responded using a form of shorthand I’d learned in an Adult Education course. She answered saying she hadn’t understood a word, which made me feel good.
Computers drive me crazy, too. I miss my Underwood typewriter. The only time I worried about it crashing was when it sat too close to the edge of my desk. I could type obscene letters and bomb threats if I felt like it, and not worry about incriminating evidence being stored in its innards. It never caught a virus or sent me e-mail messages on how to enlarge my manhood.
I do admit, though, that the Internet is wonderful for research. As a full blown Dyslexic, it’s far easier for me to navigate than to use the Dewey Decimal system at the library, where my repeated number reversals always had me searching for books in the wrong section.
Before I learned how to navigate the World Wide Web I didn’t know I needed a six foot long bronze sculpture that’s now in my front yard. I didn’t realize my home could be enhanced if I bought that twenty inch high silver table that I may have to hang from the ceiling because it won’t fit any place else. I didn’t realize the ease of ordering all kinds of makeup, miracle diet pills, miracle wrinkle creams, books, shoes and exotic foods. I never enjoyed the friendship of so many hundreds of people I probably wouldn’t like if I ever actually met them.
Before the Internet my credit card statements were white with small areas of black as opposed to this month’s statement that was black with tiny patches of white.
My husband surprised me with a TiVo television recorder for my birthday. It was a lovely gesture but he failed to take into account that it had taken me four months to understand my old VCR, three weeks to figure out how to set my digital alarm clock and after six years, I still don’t know how to program my convection oven.
I admit that I enjoy my digital camera that will hold two hundred photos. It’s wonderful being able to snap pictures, and instantly look at the camera’s small screen to view images of places I’ve been, family gatherings and memorable celebrations. But, I’ve now taken two hundred pictures and I don’t know how to get them out of my camera, into my computer, onto my screen and printed. I suppose it’s time to buy an additional camera.
Before computers, cell phones, digital cameras and TiVo recorders, I actually thought I was smart. Not the case anymore. I now agree with my granddaughter who calls me TechnoAmish.
Editor’s Note: Laverne H. Bardy is a syndicated humor columnist. Visit her at www.LaverneBardy.com. She’s the author of “How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?” Her articles appear regularly on AfterFiftyLiving.com. She blogs for the HuffingtonPost.com and is also a columnist for RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, Shrewsbury.net, and WritersBeat.com. Copyright, Laverne H. Bardy, published with permission.