The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Getting by in the age of high-tech

There are plenty of opportunities these days for technology to knock me into a deer-in-the-headlights state of mind. That made it extra sweet to be, for a change, the knowledgeable one.
I want to immediately notify my generally scornful children and co-workers, and then perhaps shout it from a rooftop.
I had one jubilant day this week where I got to be the smartest kid in the class, not once but twice.
I will cherish that sensation for some time to come.
Probably until Monday morning when I accidentally push some button I’ve never even noticed before on my computer at work, causing something important to disappear, or cause some meaningless but very ominous message to pop up on my screen.
It was glorious when I got to blush modestly and say “Oh, not really” as my lovely college chum declared me absolutely cutting edge because I have a Facebook page. This lovely friend is plenty bright but prefers the simple life in somewhat rural Nevada. She only just graduated from a dial-up connection. Her children and I were more than thrilled.
Even with that, she does her darndest to avoid the computer, so she thinks I’m Steve Jobs. As we sat at lunch with friends, she just bragged on me. I leaned back, smiled and drank it in.
Later, as I was leaving the supermarket, a nice lady not that much older than I, asked me how to use the self-checkout. I gleefully dropped my own order mid-way through to walk her through it, feeling
terribly 21st-century.
This woman was so old-school she even wanted to pay with real cash money. That stymied us both for a minute, but I figured it out and, in the process, felt 25 again.
This was absolutely the antidote I needed to get over receiving photos and e-mail from my friend on her iPhone from Brazil. She is always bragging about her apps and making me not only feel just a bit dull-witted, but really jealous, too.
I am content for now with my silly, old flip-top phone, but I do what I can to stay reasonably competent with the leaping, racing changes in technology — because I remember. I remember being the young Turk sailing through training on the very first computers in the newsroom, and feeling nothing but pity and disdain for the oldsters (over 50) who found it all so daunting.
It is a cruel joke that just a short 35 years later, I am in the running to be that reluctant, pitiable old person. It’s the best motivation on earth.
Wait. My screen just turned bright pink. It’s a lovely color, but that just can’t be good.