I admit WE WERE the last ones on earth to get a computer, get smartphones and iPads. But, now that we have these magical gadgets, I can’t imagine life without them, and yet, I’ll never understand how the words I type in text messages float through the atmosphere all the way to China where my millennial daughter and her husband lived. Skype, a miracle to be sure! To see my daughter on this little screen I hold in my hand when we were 13 hours apart, ( yep, that was a tough one) was a WOW experience.
When I first got my smartphone I was confronted with a dilemma…our highway into town had express lanes. Hubby always told me, “never take them because if there is an accident, you’ll get trapped for hours.” I always took his advice until…I got my smartphone equipped with a lady who talks to me. This was amazing and was a great source of comfort as I knew I would never get lost again. One morning I found myself heading into the city during rush hour. The lady and I were doing quite well together until she told me that there was heavy traffic ahead and the express lanes would save me 5 minutes. And then my inner dialogue began: Hubby: “don’t take the express lanes”; Lady in my phone: “you’ll save 5 minutes”; Back and forth this conversation went until I had to make a decision…sorry hubby but the LADY WINS. Onto the express lanes I went, saving those precious 5 minutes but also feeling like I had just cheated on my hubby!
The concept of smartphones, iPads, iPods is a marvel. For the life of me I cannot figure out how I can have over 50 books on my thin, sleek phone when those same books take up at least 2 shelves in my bookcase. Nor can I understand how my tiny iPod can hold over 100 songs when those songs came from no less than 20 CD’s. Funny, because way back when we switched from 8-tracks to cassettes I could SEE the difference, now I just depend on faith!
One morning when I commuted to the city by train, a sea of black puffer coats greeted me. Everyone walked 3 abreast, (as described in the commuter manual that came with my train ticket), LOOKING DOWN at something in their hands. White cords connected their ears to these hand-held gadgets. This proved to be good news and bad news: good news is what a great way to catch up on business or personal text messages or emails before heading to the office; bad news is that no one was looking where they were going and being “plugged in” they couldn’t hear me say, “excuse me” as they brushed past me like low hanging fruit.
My millennial daughter has a personal mission to assess my progress on the aging scale when she comes to visit. A recent visit concentrated on my physical activity, so my “exercise guru” suggested the STEPZ app, ( who knew there was an app for step counting?). We agreed she could download this on my phone after I told her that yoga did nothing for my cardio, ( a buzz word I have picked up while reading about exercise for boomers). Next thing I know there was a new green box on my phone screen with a picture of a guy running, (why not a girl my silent voice asks?). And so I became addicted to checking my steps, miles and kcals, walking daily while listening to music on my tiny iPod, ( what a techie lover I have become!). One day I had a brilliant idea that hubby should monitor his physical activity as well. Being a whopping 2 years older, I thought I was doing him a good deed. I downloaded the STEPZ app on his phone and unleashed a competition between the two of us, (talk about unintended consequences) and a new nightly ritual was born. Out come the phones and the dreaded, ( for me), comparison of steps, miles and kcals. Hubby doesn’t actively exercise but rather wanders around and around our abode, while I daily pound the pavement regardless of weather. Hubby is blessed with the “thin gene” and fast metabolism whereas I lack both of these attributes, hence the crazy lady who walks the neighborhood in the winter bundled up so only my eyes can be seen! He ALWAYS beats me by at least 1 mile, 500 steps and 100 or more kcals-my fragile ego can only take so much of this so I walk and walk and do laps inside our house hoping to beat him just once. There is really no justice in the world of step counting!
The last addition to our lives in this new world was a flat screen T.V. We loved our tube T.V. with its nice wood cabinet, clear picture and acceptable audio. Think of those old comfy blue jeans from 15 years ago…lounging around, binge eating ice cream and watching Star Wars over and over again. That’s how we felt about our tube T.V. But, in the move to our downsized house, mysteriously our old friend decided to stop working. Hubby was none too pleased to say goodbye but we indulged in the purchase of a new age flat screen T.V. Once operational, we settled in to watch this new gadget in our new house with high ceilings and poor acoustics. First we had trouble adjusting to the screen images – everyone looked weird and lopsided. Then we couldn’t hear the dialogue even with the volume full throttle, but we struggled to adjust. If our millennial daughter had been home she would have said, ” ah, ha, proof that your hearing is going!” One day, I saw an ad for a speaker system that was based on hearing aid technology. We bought it, installed it and like magic we could hear all the dialogue coming from this new T.V. This does give me pause, as I think I may have to begin to own my aging!
As the old saying goes, these are the best of times, these are the worst of times. The convenience of having music, books, telephone, camera, electronic communication all in a small gadget I can put in my pocket reflects the best of times. Walking while looking down at your phone and not stopping for a face to face conversation reflects the worst of times. LOOK UP, take a breath and smell the roses. The information on your phone can wait 5 minutes!