Sunday, June 21, 2009

Technophile vs. Technophobe

I can remember the day clearly. It was December of 1995, the end of my first semester of college. I had saved my pennies from my minimum wage gig and raced to the Compaq Outlet. I laid down my cash for the fanciest PC I could afford (which , in retrospect, probably had less memory than my mobile phone does now), carted it home, and plugged it in. Within minutes (really it was more like hours, but I am remembering myself as more skilled than I likely was), I had the free AOL CD installed, and I had registered for a screen name. It was so early in the AOL game that my name consisted only of four letters ('jeel', for the sake of trivia). After a little roaring and spluttering, the modem connected and I was on the net for the first time I can actually recall. I felt like a WIZARD! From that moment until about six or seven years ago, I was a technophile. I felt I had a good grasp on what was happening in the world of computers.

Now I am like a slightly outdated older aunt when it comes to technology. It's funny to hear her talk about the good ol' days at the family reunion, but you pity her a little bit for living in the past. I have become a technophobe.

I marvel at my students and friends and their lofty-sounding discussions of tweeting and blogging and linking up the micronet IP to the submask of jumping jehosaphat (at least that's what I think they're saying). So I decided I was no longer going to sit on the information highway and watch the megabytes whiz by. My new project was to get technophiled again.

So far the results are mixed.

After much goading, I created a Facebook account. I was pretty convinced that FB was only for twelve year old girls and that anyone over this age was just a saddo. I'm not sure my opinion has necessarily changed after a year of use, but the good news is that all the saddos I want to keep up with are on there as well. I find great delight in connecting with my past (and my present) via photos, messages and status updates. For expatriates in particular, having a link to your former existence is comforting as no one is ever more than a 'post comment' away.
Facebook: 8/10

I bought an iPhone and downloaded every application that looked even remotely interesting. I use approximately three of the 72 apps I downloaded (and how I wish that was an exaggerated figure - those 99 cents add up after a while). I do find great joy in Flight Control, which I only recommend if you have plenty of free time and a masochistic need to play 'just one more game, honestly!'. So far the iPhone is used for texts and peeking at Facebook and the odd phone call. I suspect the iPhone could actually tie my shoes and take out the trash, but it just seems like a big investment to learn much more about it.
iPhone: 7/10

I joined Twitter and even installed Tweetie on my iPhone. While I find blogging slightly self-indulgent, I find Twitter downright obnoxious. I guess I wasn't born with the innate need to update the world on my 140-character exploits at every moment of the day. Nor do I really want to read anyone else's. I think Twitter is causing us to miss out on the experience because we're too busy trying to (t)whittle it down to witty text bytes. However, I persevere as I think this is a game-changing technology. Those in oppression and under restriction can use Twitter to speak to the outside world. I want to like Twitter as I see social benefit, but so far I can't quite get my head round it enough to be completely sold.
Twitter: 4/10

And now here I am with Blog. Blog and I have gotten off to a shaky start. I have something to say, and Blog lets me. But Blog is like a needy new boyfriend - he wants more than I am ready to give at this stage in our relationship. He wants me to install meta-tags and enable tracking statistics and format html. These are all things I have no knowledge of and little desire to perform. I feel like the Grumpy Old Man from the Dana Carvey SNL skit: "I'm old and I'm not happy. Everything today is improved and I don't like it. Back in my day, there was no 'comment moderation'. There was no 'edit post'. There was no 'insert link.'. That's the way it was and we LIKED it!" Ignorance is certainly blissful, but I don't want to get left behind, so I will continue poring over the help pages like they are a trashy romance novel.
Blog: TBD/10

I am sure the fact that these four tools are my idea of opening my techno-mind will give a giggle to some of the more progressives out there. But it's a start, and you've got to get in the game to play it. So I'm here, error messages and all.