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IN PRAISE OF TECHNOLOGY/PRINTED 5/16/15

In Should I Even Be Talking About This? on January 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

When you get to a certain age,  Facebook postings (besides the bragging and ridiculous platitudes) seem to focus on how much better life used to be, how lucky we were to grow up before computers, texting, Twitter and Snapchat, and how our music was superior to today’s. Few people show any respect to the present day, and I often wonder what world I living in .The way I remember it, is despite the abundance of green grass and high tides, most of us couldn’t wait to move on and get to the next level. No one seemed as content as they now claim they were with their 20/20 hindsight. Everyone had ‘plans’…and none of them included taking in the perfection we claim we lived in.

It seems like nothing is good enough anymore to people of a certain age- it’s one big complaint. No one considers that every single generation since the beginning of time has made the same asinine blanket statements (things were so much better back when did XYZ….) and it sounds like nothing as much as sour grapes and resentment about growing older, about the spotlight no longer being on you. Waaah!

I understand that most people have a warm, nostalgic feeling about the ‘old days’- the cars they drove, the clothes they wore and the music that served as a backdrop to high school, first loves, parties and hot summer nights.

What I don’t understand is why anyone thinks their cars, clothes and music are any more important, better, or more revered  than their kid’s cars, clothes, etc. Sure, I prefer a ’69 Charger to a flashy Fast & Furious Tuner any day of the week, but I don’t expect anyone younger than thirty to agree with me. My cars aren’t the backdrop to his/her life. And that’s the only difference. That it’s not about me.

I personally prefer physical books to the Kindle, yet I have a Kindle, because I understand the world forges ahead, and I’m willing to bend a little to keep up.  I still prefer the books, but the Kindle is gaining-especially when you add in Netflix (which rocks!) My generation complains about technology-even while they invest in it. Does my generation believe they have some kind of lock on ‘real’ fun, music and style?

Posts that make me question the existence of any ‘self-awareness’ are the ones about technology. First off- they are posting these opinions about technology on technology. The difference between an opinion on music and one about technology is that the old fogeys who condemn rap and hip-hop in one fell swoop, while they wax poetic about The Who and Pink Floyd, don’t listen to rap and hip hop, but judge anyway because it’s not about them (nor-and this is the most important thing- does it want to be!) 

On the other hand, the Boomers who condemn technology actual use that very technology to denounce it. The two cancel each other out, no?

There is a plenitude of posts that declare ‘Kids These Days Don’T Know What This Is!’ while showing a Pinterest culled photo of a cassette or VHS tape. The statement is intended to sound like the current generation is missing out on something, but here’s the thing: who cares? I didn’t have a Victrola, and I spent zero-point-zero seconds thinking about my ‘missing out’. But do any of us ‘boomers’ not have a cell phone? GPS? Satellite? If technology is so bad, why are we tethered to it, just like the kids you bash (and raised, by the way!)

I have dismal memories of walking to school on cold New England winter mornings back in the day- feeling tired, gloomy and self-conscious- wrapped up in all kinds of teenage angst. I had no choice but to deal with it. It was raw. I didn’t have a phone to text anyone with, or a Tumblr page to rant on, or an Instagram account where I could  look at the latest photos posted by Peter Frampton, the cast of Saturday Night Live, or my best friend.

Instead, I had to stew in those depressing feelings of anxiety and insecurity. I walked across busy streets with carloads of people staring at me, while my nose-hairs froze, feeling humiliated about being physically evaluated, on my way to a place I hated. (In the grand scale of life-big deal-but in my teenage reality head: BIG EFFING DEAL!)

Some people would insist that those mornings made me a better person, but I don’t agree. I had plenty of discomfort in my teen years, I didn’t need thirty minutes to dread every single day. I would have given anything to  have some form of technology- say an i-Pod. Having something to engage in while I trudged to school would have released some of the pressure of feeling unbearably awkward. (Even pretending to text would have been a relief) And once I was actually at school? Being able to text someone while being surrounded by the ‘Heathers’ like cliques? It would have been godsend! It would have been supportive. A lifeline!

I think underneath all of the nay-saying about kids with their eyes glued to their i-phone screens, or  constantly listening to music on their Beats headphones is a kind of jealousy that we weren’t privy to those kinds of escape hatches. We had to be by a radio, or record player, or cassette deck to hear our music- and even then we had to listen to a lot of crap on an album  before we got to the actual songs we liked. We had to be in front of a television at a certain time to watch our favorite shows- and if we missed them, it was a four month wait until re-run season.

(Forget about what you had to endure on a lame show like ‘Ron Kirschner’s Rock Concert’ just to see a cool band, at the very end, for three minutes. I still hate that he always did that! Some old guy, so unhip, completely square, always mired in the mainstream yet in charge of my rarely seen hard rock bands, whom he obviously despised! Waves ‘special’ finger!)

We had to dial our friends phone numbers by hand at home, and wait them out if we got a busy signal- sometimes for hours. If we got lost on the way to a party, we were usually out of luck – we couldn’t  enter street names into the GPS/phone and get precise directions to the location. If our friends weren’t at one hang-out, we had to literally drive to another one, fingers crossed. Many a story came from these situations (sometimes being lost leads to a better place) but wouldn’t many a story also come from making it to the party, or meeting up with our friends after all? Everything is a story. No one is ever going to run out of stories! Hating technology is like hating cars- you have every right, but I’ll believe you more if you don’t drive one!

Sometimes I see a kid out to dinner with her parents who doesn’t look up once to engage with them, but she also doesn’t end up in a fight with them, or spend the dinner being criticized and berated. Not everyone has a supportive family. Again-for the people in the back: NOT EVERYONE HAS A SUPPORTIVE FAMILY! I would have loved to have that option. I also love a smart phone in a waiting room, or any public downtime rather than just waiting impatiently. Where’s the lie?

I’m not for texting every time you feel a feeling – I think it’s good to stop and feel that feeling (and sometimes cry-and cry hard!) but so much of our teenage life was spent being bored, uncomfortable, picked on,  insecure or angry-and given the choice- wouldn’t we have liked to fill that time with distractions? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just that it’s preferable. And I think if people were being honest they’d admit they are a little jealous- of technology and of youth. And they need to separate their feelings of technology from their envy of the people who just happen to have way more time left on this planet.

What do you think?

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