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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Technological Dotage

Last night I had a dream in which a toddler, scarcely out of diapers, was demonstrating how to use a smartphone and telling me I was in my "technological dotage."  What's remarkable was the dream is precisely a number of actual conversations over the past few years, conversations, I might add, that have been occurring with ever-increasing frequency.  I had the perfect rejoinder for the little tot, and would have given it, except at that moment, she turned into an enormous green moth and fluttered away.  The next thing I knew, I was in the Five Points Marta Station wearing only my whitey-tighties.

My great-grandmother, I would have said, or possibly my great-great-grandmother, never reached her technological dotage.  She was born, lived, and died surrounded by the same comfortable, familiar unchanging milieu.  Oh, sure, maybe the neighbors got themselves one of those fancy new Franklin Stoves or Becky Sue's husband went and bought her one of those newfangled Singer Sewing Machines, but basically life went on as it has always done, the pace of change too slow to notice in a generation.

My grandmother's case was somewhat different.  She traveled in a covered wagon to Montana and lived to see men walking on the moon.  She never quite reached what you'd call technological dotage, but she came close.  Her early life left indelible marks.  For instance, she always referred to a refrigerator as an "ice box," which wasn't something you'd even notice except you knew what she had in mind was an actual ice box which had to be replenished each day by a fresh delivery from the iceman.

Now I, in my fifties, am already in my dotage.  There are some things I not only don't understand how they work, I don't get why you'd want them.  The other night at a party, "Freebird" came on the stereo - excuse me, iPod, or Pandora or whatever - and a guest began waving her phone over her head.  She had an app displaying a cigarette lighter with a wavering flame dancing with the motion of the phone.  What???  How many apps must she have downloaded to have access to that particular one just in case an opportunity came along to use it?  On another occasion, a friend proudly demonstrated an app that allowed him to speak into his phone which would translate his words into a text message.  What???? What???  It was a phone.  I still haven't gotten over that one.

Anyway, my whole point about technological dotage is, it's arriving sooner and sooner.  For my great-great-grandmother, it never hit.  My grandmother experienced it, but not in a very major way and only when she was elderly.  But it's walloped me in my fifties, when I'm still a mere slip of a thing.

This means you, you smarty-pants youngsters, will experience it even sooner.  Think about that before you turn into giant moths and flit away.

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