I have always thought of myself as an up-to-date person. Most of my time until recent years has been spent with people much younger than I am. As a person who prides himself on being “with it,” I must admit that when I am around a group of younger persons — and often those not so young — I feel very much out of the loop. These others have their heads down as if in prayer. However, they are only devoutly peering at their smartphones or some other device. When I feel too much an outsider, I peer at my Kindle reader, whether or not a book is being displayed. This activity just makes me feel part of what’s going on.
I have a smartphone and have learned to use it to make calls and answer them — but that’s the limit of my technical ability. My problem has been that every hour or so the batteries would run out. And then my daughter looked at it and announced that in the two years I have had it I must have opened 30 things that were all still running in the background, just waiting to be called to action. She closed them, and now I have sufficient battery power to do what I want, if I ever wanted to do something other than make and answer calls.
I have wanted to text, but I’m not sure how, and when I have tried it, my fingers can’t accurately hit those tiny letters and it all comes out in gibberish. And even if I had gotten it right I would not know how to send what I have written.
I want to talk to my grandson and my great-grandchildren on Skype, and I have it on my computer, but that is as far as it has gone. Somebody put me on Facebook, but I am not interested in what a friend of mine had for breakfast every morning of his vacation, or what bad pictures get posted by someone almost every day. As for Twitter, when I write it is always between 600 and 800 words, not the paltry collection of allowable keystrokes. And what the heck is a hashtag?
I do email and send out so many my Verizon server occasionally shakes a finger at me, and I am put on timeout and sent to my room for a day. Email can get you in serious trouble. Just ask Hillary. In addition to where these columns are published and the hundreds of emails that somehow get delivered, the columns also go out in a blog titled “The Bayer Necessities.” Don’t ask me how to get them that way. I don’t have a clue. Some kind person I don’t know sends them to a considerable list every week. Even so, my favorite communication device is still the digital graphite display module.
As you might assume, much of my time preparing these columns is spent doing careful research. Here is where I take technology seriously. I used to haunt libraries, had stacks of books on my desk and spent hours leafing through The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Now I can access those newspapers with a couple of keyboard clicks.
I believe in the gifts modern technology and social media have given. Whether I can really do without most of them and still be out in front of what’s happening remains unclear. Until now I seem to have survived. When I am no longer enough with it, I’m sure there are those out there who will be happy to tell me. Just don’t try it on Facebook or Twitter.