Huddled Masses Learning to Play Wii

I hate my cellphone.  Not crazy about my computer these days, either.  And don’t EVEN get me started talking about my camera. We live in the Digital Age.  I get that.  And I know that technology has made our lives more convenient and productive.

I just wish I could figure out how to set up my voice mail on my cellphone.

If  you are older than about, oh…45… you may be nodding your head about now.  There’s a reason for this, and it isn’t because we are old and stupid, really…no matter what our kids say.    Here’s what happened, folks.  We are, according to Marc Prensky, author of Digital Native, Digital Immigrants (2001) fresh off the boat.

We rode a ship christened “Cyberspace” a couple of decades ago.  Before the voyage,  we packed all the things we thought we’d need for this journey….books…magazines…newspapers….our typewriters…..the old rotary phone from the kitchen….a few sharpened pencils with pink eraser tips.  We kissed the Past goodbye, and made our way up the steps.    During the voyage, we read a lot and talked to each other in complete, grammatically correct sentences.  We were a little nervous, but we figured that once we found a place to plug in our phones, we’d be set.

After a long voyage, we looked into the distance and could see a statue.  At first, we couldn’t make out the shape.  As the ship drew closer to shore, we stared in wonder.  Rising up on the horizon, the statue beckoned to all of us huddled on the deck.  It was tall, and dark.  It had many buttons with numbers and up and down arrows.  At the top, there was a button with the word “Power” written above it.  What did this mean?  What was this strange object?

It was a big flippin’ remote control…that’s what.

The native people who welcomed us were a lot younger and looked really familiar.  They smiled knowingly as they looked at the bedraggled and confused among us clutching encyclopedias and dictionaries to our chests.

A couple of them took me home with them.   They were in elementary school.

I’ve been a lot to handle.

Now that they are away at college, I miss them for many reasons.  Not the least of which is the fact that they always know what to do with all the gadgets I lived quite contentedly without for most of my life.  Now, I wait for them to visit so that I can find out how to delete old phone calls….and use Skype…and watch a DVD on the Blu-ray player. Wait. Is it a DVD or a DVR and what is the difference?   Power “Source” means nothing to me.  And what’s the difference between HDMI1 and HDMI2?  And why to do we need 2?  Uploading photos?  Ha.  For weeks, when my daughter called, it sounded like she was standing two inches away from my good ear yelling at me.  I’d hold the phone as far away from my head as I could and she was still too loud.  I didn’t know there was a volume control button on the side of my phone.  She turned it down the last time she was home from college.

Now everyone is whispering when they call me.

Can you hear me now?  How about now?

We had one telephone for five people when I was growing up. It was in the kitchen.  We weren’t allowed to make long distance phone calls on it. We had one TV and people got up to change the channel.  I think there were four channels.  We didn’t need Wii Fit.   Wii walked or Wii biked or Wii stayed home.  We read in nooks,  not on them.  And when someone said Kindle.  We looked for sticks to build a bonfire.

And then…..Wii talked and made eye contact.  In person.

I know I should just get with the program and quit my whining.  I should learn to master the black beasties that beep and tweet and jingle at me, but I am old, or nearly so.  And I have smart kids who can do a lot of stuff on my smart phone.

When they were little, I taught them how to do a bunch of stuff.  And now, they are teaching me stuff.

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