Ordinary Thoughts, Essays and Short Stories

Playing Catch-Up…Or Not


A couple of decades ago, I worked as a receptionist in a large law firm, and I recall the not-so-fun experience we all went through when they upgraded the phone system. Compared to what we see today, the new one was only semi-impressive. But at the time, it was several technological steps above what we’d been using. The learning curve was steeper for some than it was for others, and I can still remember one of the firm’s partners barreling past my desk all red-faced and muttering, “I want my rotary phone back.”

The introduction of all manner of hi-tech equipment, software, apps, and whatnot through the years has often left me feeling the same way. I’m not saying that electronic calculators, home computers, and cordless phones weren’t exciting – and I’m certainly not willing to trade my cell phone for the cute little princess phone I had back in the ‘60s – but the rapidity with which new advances come out makes it clear that technology is swiftly passing me by. I think it’s safe to say some of my peers are experiencing this same sense of being left in the dust.

Many years ago, my husband and I were dragged kicking and screaming into the land of smartphones. Everyone kept telling us we needed to get on board because texting was essential and those phones made it so easy. We dug in our heels for as long as we could, but we finally had to admit our flip phones simply weren’t cutting it, and we succumbed to upgrading to smartphones. It was shocking how quickly we embraced the convenience of not only communicating with friends and family without actually talking on the phone – something neither of us has ever enjoyed doing – but of communicating between just the two of us when we were in different parts of the same house. Yes, as embarrassed as I was to admit it at the time, we would resort to texting instead of getting out of a chair and going to wherever the other person was in order to talk face-to-face. We’ve aged a bit since then, and our joints aren’t what they used to be, so I’m no longer embarrassed by that practice. I now justify it by saying we’re working smarter…not harder.

As comfortable as we’ve managed to get with our cell phones, other aspects of technology don’t seem to come so easily. My husband has been out of the workforce longer than I have, so he doesn’t really need to use a computer anymore. And what they say is true…if you don’t use it, you lose it. He openly admits he struggles more than I do when it comes to handling our various devices. For better or worse, I’ve become our household’s tech guru. It’s a term I use so tongue-in-cheek that my face is lopsided. Still, if we’re going to live in a world where we need Wi-Fi to watch TV or surf the net, someone has to know how to hook stuff up and make it spring to life. I’m just questioning how much longer I’ll be able to muddle through. Because that’s exactly what I do. I muddle.

During the time I was setting up the website for this blog, there was some question as to which of us was going to survive…me or the laptop.  I feared the frustration involved was going to cause me to either stroke out or hurl my little Acer into the reservoir. Fortunately – and, to this day, I believe there was some Divine Intervention at work there – I managed to get the website up and running without any casualties. My blood pressure is still acceptable, and the laptop didn’t end up in the drink. It was a win-win.

But there is so much more to deal with than figuring out how to send texts or stream movies or bank online. There are hackers and cyber-thieves and bitcoins and AI and God only knows what else out there. I can’t help but wonder when I’ll turn a corner and be faced dead-on with a technological problem that I absolutely must solve…but absolutely can’t. My brain cells aren’t getting any younger – or sharper – and the thought of sitting down and trying to learn about all those things is beyond daunting. Not to mention the fact that I have no desire to put myself through that sort of torture.

Maybe the trick for those of us of a certain age is to do our best to keep up with what we already know how to do, go the extra step in learning about things we’re truly interested in, and then be content to let all the other stuff float on by.

The way I see it, that’s not giving up. It’s letting go. And as time marches on, I’m becoming more and more okay with that.

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  1. Carolyn Wiebers

    I knew we were in trouble when my then-3 yr old granddaughter handed me 2 remotes for the TV, and proceeded to show me how to turn on the TV, and then made sure her favorite Blu-Ray would play! Very sad day…..

  2. Cheri Wickham

    Oh my, I feel your pain! Though I can no longer imagine life without the convenience of cell phones and computers – very necessary for overseeing finances for ourselves and our parents as they have declined and passed on, for example, I always hated the intrusion of the computer into my medical practice. It was very convenient for accessing information like labs, x-rays, consultant notes, and hospital records, gathering and records, but I always felt tethered to the computer in the exam room and afterward finishing notes. And a lot was even accessible on my smartphone! Retirement helped but I am sure that skills will fade.

  3. Pamela Binge

    My kids help me get through any technology hiccups that come up for me. I have learned to adapt to software programs at every job that I have had but my lap top computer can frustrate me to no end because I really do not have a good understanding of how they work. I prefer the simple dials on washing machines, microwaves and stoves. All this digital stuff and programming the thing is way beyond what I want to think about. I don’t have a clue how to program my coffee maker to turn itself on and brew coffee at a certain time each morning. I just put the water and coffee in and push start. Trying to keep it simple in my little world. Love your blog Virginia. 😊

  4. Sharon

    It appears many of us are learning that when we are at a loss with these devices, just find someone under 8! 😳

  5. Sharon

    It appears we can all relate! 😳

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