Janet Sheridan: No longer an early adapter
Long ago, I quickly adopted and effortlessly used current technology: TVs, touch-tone phones, self-correcting typewriters, hand-held calculators, VCRs, personal computers, the internet, and email; but I’m no longer an early adapter. Lately, I tend to sit around with my mouth hanging open while others easily accept and use new technology. And I don’t care.
I have no interest in being squired around by a self-driving car, having the latest apps on my cellphone, or telling Alexa to turn the heat up, the lights down, and the music off. Also, trust me, I’ll never understand the thrill of eSports.
The idea of a Roomba scurrying around vacuuming my house gives me a headache, so why would I want a personal-robot called CHiP? Even if the odd-looking robo-dog can bark, do tricks, play fetch, and show affection by nuzzling its owner with its nose, I’m not interested; in fact, I’m appalled.
I also ignore the newest technology because I’m confused by the devices I already have. After a lengthy session of texting or accessing the internet on my phone, using my finger on its screen to maneuver, I switch to my laptop to write. I then spend several frustrating minutes trying to bring up the column I’m working on by using my finger to tap and swipe the computer’s screen, thinking, “What’s wrong now?!” as my finger thumps increase in vigor. Or, I go from my laptop to Joel’s desktop, look at its mouse, and wonder, “Whatever in the world is that?”
I got my first cellphone a couple of years after Joel did, so he was my resident expert and teacher on its use. “Scroll up,” he’d say, so I touched the screen with my finger and slowly moved it toward the top of the phone. “No!” he’d exclaim, too vociferously for my delicate nature, “You’re scrolling down. Scroll up! Up! Scroll up!”
Fortunately, before either of us considered divorce, a grandchild calmly explained, “Up means you want to move to move the screen to the top of the text strand or list of emails. Down means you want to move to the bottom. It’s the opposite of how you move your finger.” Oh. So I scrolled through my bank account to see how much I could add to the dear child’s inheritance, then scrolled through my contacts to delete Joel.
Because of our inept thumbs, Joel and I both blundered when typing texts until we discovered the little microphone. I’ve always talked faster than I’ve typed, particularly on a cellphone, and, as an ex-English teacher, I enjoy barking comma, period, question mark, or quote. However, I fear inadvertently sending a text before I reread it because the artificial intelligence that translates my speech to typescript routinely records words my mouth didn’t form. I dictate, “When I asked Joel, he said I should decide what we’ll be taking.” Then I reread a message that says: “When I assed Jewel, he said I shoed decide what will beat aching.”
Recently, as Joel finished dictating a brief text to friends in Wyoming, he had a coughing fit. His message: “Did you forget you have friends in Colorado?” The message they received: ”Did you forget you have fiends in Colorado? ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” They never answered.
We did learn to use Facetime so we could keep up with our scattered grandchildren. I like chatting with them as they sit sleepy-eyed in their dorm rooms or apartments because, once again, we confused time zones and called earlier than they anticipated. But I never, ever look at my image on the screen. I did once and didn’t recover for two weeks.
A meme circulating on Facebook describes me perfectly: It features a toddler, holding his forehead in frustration while talking on the phone, saying, “Geez, Grandma! It’s not that hard! Go into settings …. select wi-fi. Select it! … Tap it with your finger!! … OMG, Grandma, any finger!
Janet Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at auntbeulah.com the first and 15th of every month.
This week’s picture book for children was written and illustrated by David Litchfield who lives in the United Kingdom. “The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle” is a sequel to “The Bear and the Piano,” a best-selling picture book.