Monday, January 21, 2013


I'm a reasonably intelligent person, however, dealing with Technology can leave me frustrated, short-tempered and near tears mired in insecurity and emotional abandonment. Yes, Technology has left me behind. I call it Technology because along with Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, it has become the fifth element.

I grew up in an age of rotary phones and televisions you had to manually change the channels on (that means turn the knob). I learned to type on a typewriter! Not even an electric one!! Microwave ovens didn't come out until I was in middle school. Our first "remote control" had a looooong cord that went from the controller to the VCR. The VCR was the size of a small car which was okay because the TV was a gigantic piece of furniture. We got our first computer when I was in high school. It actually used floppy discs. The big floppy ones! And you had to type in C:\\ as an opening statement. That's right, DOS! *gasp*
I was excited in 1988 to purchase my first home that was pre-wired for phones and cable in every room! And they were phone outlets - you plugged the phone cord in yourself! WOW! In 1995 I purchased my first microwave when my toaster oven died. And in 1998 I made the BIG leap. My father bought me a computer (the floppy discs were the hard 3" ones then) and I got my first cell phone! Let's just say that both devices were large. The "technology" to use these things was not very challenging either. It took very little time or emotional involvement to deal with them. Now the computers and phones are smaller and they are merging. There is something unholy about it.

This weekend I got my first "smart" phone. I was amazed at how deftly the young man with the tight jeans, man scarf and faux-hawk could caress the phone and manipulate it -  bringing up different screens, flip them around, open something new, go back and return it to the home page. I was lost and just wanted to play peek-a-boo with my toddler. Personally, I don't care what anyone under the age of 35 says, Technology is not simple or intuitive. It is mocking and manipulative. And I'm pretty sure it is male. I say this because my husband and two-year-old son have no problem with it.
An excerpt from this weekend:

Me: (angry) This @$!?&*% phone is broken. It froze.
Husband: What happened?

Me: (whining) I was trying to set up this app. I got to this page and pressed "next" but nothing happened.

Husband: Hmmm. Did you go back?
Me: It won't let me.

Husband: What are you doing now?
Me: (near tears) Pressing "next" again.

Husband: Why? It didn't work the first time.
Me: (having a nervous breakdown) Maybe it didn't understand. Maybe it didn't hear me. Maybe if I keep pressing the &*%$@?! button, it will finally work!

Long story short, it works now. I can answer the phone and send text messages on it and that's good for me right now.
Since we are updating our fixer-upper house, we are also updating the electrical things like outlets and switches. While we were putting these things in the cart, my husband starts to look at the complicated electrical things for the office we will be working on at some point. These things had USB ports, AV inputs and other outlets I've never SEEN before. So what's next? A "smart" house? Cars that drive themselves? Soylent Green?

My main character, Walter, is also not technologically savvy. He, like me, prefers to use the computer and phone as the tools they are and not as a way of life (head down, ear buds in, unconscious to the rest of the world). However, times are changing and Technology is here to stay (and manipulate us, and alter our world view). Since I am not up-to-date on these things, this is where I have to do research when characters show up who are technically skilled. So, if you see me in a puddle of tears, notebook open, pen in hand, standing in front of the Geek Squad counter being stared at by a young man with a man scarf and faux-hawk, I'm just doing research.

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