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iLove (my technological invasion)

December 6, 2010

I’ve always been technologically unfashionable.

My family got our phone – on a party line – when I was five or six. Later, cell phones were ubiquitous long before I had my first one, and in 2006 I was still using a mobile with a retractable antenna and without a color screen. Three years ago I was motivated only by pregnancy to move from film to a digital camera. We still watch public programming on an analog TV – cable hasn’t made it as far from town as we live. I’ve replaced two car cassette players, but saved both (not to mention all my mix tapes!) for future use. I’m still not ready for an mp3 player. It’s been a year since we were first able to get high-speed Internet at home. And when we’re on a long trip and my husband asks for “the Garmin,” I’m supposed to produce the appropriate state map – a little joke for the technologically un-savvy. We haven’t graduated to jokes about Bluetooth, though I’m pretty sure I know what it is.

At work, I’ve made fun of colleagues for taking care to plan lunch together, only to spend it tapping their iPhones. There I earned my reputation as a technological primitive not only because I didn’t have a smart phone, but because I didn’t even want one. One friend suggested I offer a class called Communication Without Technology – I considered it an incredible compliment.

Of course, here I am, blogging. I’m on Facebook, too. I even gave Twitter a couple of tries – I got all the way up to 16 Tweets before giving up. I’m not completely  behind – in journalism school, I even did design work on a cutting-edge digital media project – just hot/cold. But most days, my “status” just means “married” and my phone makes noise only when it rings. I ignore Google Reader – I read your blog by typing in its URL, or clicking over from a comment or a blogroll. Call me old-fashioned. (Just not in front of my dad, who doesn’t have a computer or a credit card. Or my husband, who kind of wishes he didn’t.)

Really, I’m coming around. On September 1, I started a new job. A job that sends me around the state and often doesn’t observe business hours (and which I totally adore). And a couple of weeks later, I came home with my new mobile office – a glittering new MacBook and a shiny iPhone 4.

My little sisters predicted a steep learning curve, but within weeks I was making phone calls without assistance.

Now the iPhone is fed regularly by two e-mail accounts and I love it for snapshots and videos on the go. I use it to check the weather and to get directions. During meals and meetings, it stays hidden in my bag  – at least until conversation calls for a pocket Google (or, more boring, a calendar consult).

Alone, it isn’t life changing; most of the time, I don’t care if there’s an App for that, and of course we made the most dramatic transitions to mobile and digital communications years ago, with everyone else. But plugging in on a new level inspired us to catch up a bit – we were, as it turns out, missing out a little.

On streaming children’s programming, for example. How delighted I was to realize that even when PBS is your only child-friendly channel, there’s always an alternative to Caillou! Netflix, you life preserver you. (Though why, WHY?! didn’t anyone tell me that I should go get a prescription before inviting The Wiggles into my universe?)

And Skype! Wondrous Skype. By which Jack, who was until recently afraid of the phone, can talk to his far-flung aunts and ask for repeated tours of their apartments. (To him, riveting conversation is the stuff of “Where is your couch?” and “Can I see your broom?”)

I’d like to think that I could give it all up – that I could retreat to a time when I drove the 30 miles between town and home without a cell phone and without a worry, when live video chatting was in the same category as the hovercraft, when we satisfied our curiosity with a set of encyclopedias. But who am I kidding?  I don’t even own an encyclopedia. I like my virtual connections and the ease of keeping in touch; I love the search engines and translators, the lightning-speed dictionaries and almanacs.

So this invasion has been a friendly one – the kind where the Martians turn out to be friendly and come bearing decent hostess gifts (like they do in Company’s Coming, a fun children’s book with a clever, thoughtful point – as well as, I’ll warn you, some illustrations with Army tanks.)

What about yours? Are you wearing your favorite earbuds right now or reading this on a little screen? Were you ever on a party line? Do you, too, have a sister, husband or friend who sends you e-mails ending with “Sent from my iPhone – NOT?”

8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2010 12:21 am

    The iPhone thing is weird–all iPhone owners seem to have this connection through their phones. If you meet someone else who has one, you instantly have something to talk about, more in common than you might have originally thought. It’s crazy, huh? I am planning a post about this invasion you speak of, but what I realize is that it’s a way to just check out for a while. Things are mindless, like TV. And I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, so my technology is my way of relaxing and decompressing. Though I sort of miss books. I’d be way ahead on my New Yorker articles if I didn’t have such a great MacBook/iPad/iPhone to distract me.

  2. December 7, 2010 2:20 am

    I didn’t want a smart phone either. I just started texting a few months ago. But one night last week while we were visiting my parents, I used my mom’s iPhone to take a few pictures of my baby wearing reindeer ears, chose the best one, and posted it as her wallpaper. It took me maybe two minutes. Me, who (like you, it sounds) is about as intuitive with technology as I am with directions, which is to say, not at ALL. But I do sort of “get it” now.

    PS: Your skyping giraffe might jut be the cutest thing ever.
    PPS: Pocket google … I’m totally stealing that term.
    PPPS: Get out the “Garmin.” Ha!

  3. December 7, 2010 4:50 am

    I love the pic of Jack talking to his aunt. I need to get on the skype thing with my sister. I am an iphone owner and I bless this technology. The iphone has given me directions, provided sanity for my four year old (games) and allowed me to text my husband when he is unable to talk.

  4. December 7, 2010 6:17 pm

    We were never on a party line–interesting! I was a latecomer to the smartphone thing and ohhhhh, how I love it now 🙂

  5. December 7, 2010 11:17 pm

    I wouldn’t call myself a technology junky, but I do consider myself an early adopter and I am wooed intensely by the shiny monolith that is i!

    My iPhone has been a blessing and a curse. And we are attached at the hip. Permanently I dare say as I type this comment with two thumbs. 🙂

  6. Janell permalink
    December 7, 2010 11:48 pm

    Laughed out loud at Jack’s “Where is your couch?” comment. 🙂

  7. December 8, 2010 8:46 pm

    If left to my own devices, I’d probably still be on a flip-phone sans color screen. But I live with a tech snob so I’ve come to appreciate (and depend) on the conveniences of technology. Actually, now I don’t know what I did with my life pre-smartphone. I am an iPhone user currently but can’t wait to switch once my contract expires to an Android phone, only because that’s more me. I’ve learned that how a person uses tech and what they use says a lot about them; at least that is true of the social circle I’m in, which is full of tech and gadget nerds.

    I love that pic of Jack skyping. Pantless giraffe? How adorable!

  8. December 10, 2010 2:49 am

    I chuckled at this. Friendly Martians, indeed. We remain an i-less household, and I still struggle with my Blackberry, but for those of us who have to be in multiple places at once, or who can’t be anywhere we “need to be” except virtually, some of this technology is miraculous.

    It allows us to stay in touch with people all over the world. It allows us to learn from our homes. It allows us to make a living, which we couldn’t otherwise. Extraordinary, really. We just need to manage it, and not the other way around.

    (Love the picture!)

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