Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tales of Technology: The First Shall Be Last

Mom was the first in our family to use a computer. Her 1970s library technician job required it. She came home every day tearing out her hair. But Mom soon mastered the highest technology of the time and spent the rest of her career using it.

Then she retired . . . and technology moved on. Years of innovation passed her happily by, and she entered her 80s without email, the Internet, or a cell phone. And then she had to conquer a whole new technology: the Mac. It came complete with a granddaughter to show her how to use it. But the hair tearing resumed. Mom had been a computer-use pioneer, but that skill was now irrelevant.

I wish, like my mother, that I could have merrily ignored advancing technology. But there is no stopping the inevitable. Like the rest of the planet, I eventually got a cell phone. One day, a text message appeared on my little Motorola RAZR. It was from my teenage daughter. I sort of knew how to construct messages with the letters on the numbered dial pad—letters that I chose by hitting the button one, two, or three times. Clumsily, I sent a message back. My daughter’s friends were very impressed. None of their moms knew how to text! I was Cool-Mom!

Then I retired . . . and technology moved on. For as long as my RAZR drew breath I saw no point in an upgrade. Very quickly, the BlackBerry and iPhones arrived. My daughter now wondered aloud why I still bothered to use such antiquated technology as three-letter texting. Her friends’ deadbeat moms were texting away on their easy-to-use smart phones. Now they were the Cool-Moms! I had been a texting pioneer, but that skill was irrelevant.

When I told Mom that story she said, “You’re catching up to me!” Perhaps she and I together, with the help of grandchildren, can avoid falling further behind. I also hope that, like her, I always have plenty of hair.