As a boomer, I’ve found myself alternately resisting and embracing emerging technologies, new technology gadgets, and modern technology altogether. Sometimes, my stubborn old self (the guy that is portrayed in our It’s a Tech World After All cartoons) just wants to say, “Leave me alone!” But, more recently, I’ve come to not only embrace these changes, but also respect, admire, and feel gratitude for them. It wasn’t always that way.
It always used to seem to me that just as I made the decision to finally upgrade my computer, buy that new digital camera, or I finally figured out and mastered my newest software program, THEY assaulted me with the next upgrade, new gadget, or thing I had to get! And I just loved that alluring commercial for the improved version of my now declared very old software! I wanted to scream and go back to rotary telephone and hand-written letters to pen-pals. Adding salt to my open wounded pride and sense of being a sucker was when I finally stepped up and bought some newer techie thing and a week later, a newer model came out at a lesser price. AARRGGHH!!
I felt like I was always in limbo, like I was a boob being manipulated and taken advantage by Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue. Much of the time, I ended up doing nothing as a result. Plus I faced the derision of my kids who laughed when I asked them to help me get my computer working again? I felt like the girl at the dance, sitting alone in the corner. At work all my buddies had the newest operating system, new smart-phone, and were tweeting, texting, or checking their messages on Facebook in their cubicles. And I was still using my original brick of a cell-phone since I had been waiting since 1999 for the right deal!
That was me, back in the day (Author’s note: back in the day is my favorite expression from my kid’s generation). Only louder, more whiny, and more annoying. Ask my first wife. Maybe that’s why she’s now my ex-wife?
How I went from tech boob and technophobe, to an almost tech evangelist today is an evolution that I still find amusing. There’s no doubt that having kids was a factor. There’s also no doubt that co-creating this web site also made a huge impact on me. What began, in my mind, as a sort of outlet for my tech frustrations has evolved into making me a tech convert and to appreciate the technological marvels that are introduced so often that it feels like a daily news bulletin.
When the PC started to become ubiquitous, I came aboard largely because a good friend was the quintessential tech nerd and held my hand. In those days, now a couple decades old, the tech life of a computer was 2-3 years. When my friend insisted I had to upgrade, my heart, soul, and brain filled with dread. Everything would be lost, all that I finally understood would change, and how would I ever figure out which button meant what now? Just like my boys would say later, I’d say, “It’s not fair.”
This friend, through bribery and those embarrassing photos I had of him held in a secret vault, would thankfully take my old and new computers, and transfer all the data and truly hold my hand through the transition. Even with this help, I would still put it off until my old computer was basically a piece of decorative hardware as the viruses and other accumulated gunk made it virtually useless.
I resisted digital photography in much the same way. When I finally bought my first digital camera, it sat in the box for weeks until I got the nerve to finally open it and try and figure it out. That was my pattern with most of the tech gadgets I bought in those days. When I finally did open the box, I’d get stuck somewhere along the line, get frustrated, and re-pack it all up and return it to CostCo (where you can return anything, most of the time).
I finally got digital cameras and have since taken about 2,598,403 photos, at last count. Once I got over my anxiety over another technology change, I embraced it fully. And, frankly, it’s been a growing love affair ever since.
The biggest hurdle I made was going from a PC to a Mac. That has opened up even more technological opportunities for me as I took advantage of Apple’s One2One tutoring program. “Took advantage” to the max, I might add, as I was a weekly fixture at our local Apple Store.
The next big change, for me, which I will document in detail for Boomer Tech Talk, is making the transition from my beloved Blackberry Curve, which is THREE years old, to an iPhone. I’m going to do it sometime this year. Stay tuned.
My technology evolution should serve as an encouraging example for everyone. I’m as stubborn as they come (just ask my wife), yet when I got over my own anxieties and realized what new technology offered, it opened up the whole world to me. Now, instead of resisting, I just wait for a sale or the right time to make a change or get something new.
The old sayings “There’s no time like now” or “If not now, when?” apply to all of us that like to stay “stuck in our ways,” when unsticking ourselves will only enhance our lives, allow us to relate to our kids better, and open up new opportunities we might never know even existed.
I read somewhere that technological generations have gone down to just about four years! That means kids that are four years apart are essentially living in different technological realities. My own boys, just three years apart, are living evidence of this in that they interact much differently with technology. For example, my younger boy almost exclusively uses texts for communication, while his older brother actually will talk on his cell-phone or via computer voice-to-voice software like Skype.
My whole second career is a result of getting over myself, my stubbornness, and embracing change. This is most definitely not a political slogan, but about the everyday hi-tech changes that we face in our extremely fast-moving contemporary world.
I am surprised, as I finish this article, how little rant remained on this topic for me and how much love of technology has replaced it. The same is available to you, as long as you embrace these new technologies. My friend Steve did so in Text Steve Text and we at Boomer Tech Talk intend to continue to provide easy-to-understand How To’s and more to make all this new stuff cool to everyone.
Now, about that new tablet I was considering…Hmmm, should it be the new Blackberry one, the Toshiba one, the ubiquitous iPad, or what?