A long-time TTA Reader, John Boden, takes a rueful glance at how ‘smart’ technology has not just disrupted the phone and computing markets, but has disrupted the ‘natural order’ between generations today. A virus-free look at a phenomenon that’s changed a natural dynamic.
As I am writing my experiences, and thinking about my grandparents and parents, I remember how many of the little things they taught me. It is not the big lessons I am talking about, but the details. A few examples: how to sharpen a knife; how to ground a sparkplug without getting shocked; how to tie a bowline; how to saw a board; how to chop down a tree, and hundreds of other skills. The most amazing change has taken place today. Now, so many times it is the grandchildren teaching the grandparents. The advent of technology is the cause. Cell phones, e-readers, Google, directions to anywhere from anywhere, Amazon shopping, Uber, movies, music, and on and on. All came screaming into our lives in the last decade or two, like an avalanche filling those little machines we hold in our hand.
The acquisition of the new skills needed is no longer based on the experience and hard-learned lessons that were passed down from one generation to the next, from the master craftsman to the apprentice, from parent to child, as has always been the way.
Suddenly we elders were having to learn new ways of doing things and it felt like we were drinking from a firehose. We finally gave in and bought ourselves one of those new phones we can carry around with us and flip open to use wherever we are, and then, BAM, there is a newer one, and then a newer one, and now it is much more than a phone. It is a map with a guide that tells you directions and even insists on telling you when to turn. It is a record player, a camera, a mailman that delivers immediately and you can even answer back immediately.
WHOA – WHOA – WHOA, this is too much. I cannot even get it out of my pocket before it stops ringing. Then, which button do I push to see who called? Oops, did they leave a message? Why is this screen blinking? Icon? What icon? (And what’s an icon anyway?) Do I push? Oops! Tap! Do not push! And this is just the phone part of the thing.
Where have all the dials gone? Where are the gauges with needles that told us how everything was working? What do you mean I just walk up to my car and it will know who I am and unlock the doors so I can get in? How can all this stuff that did not exist even a few years ago have so completely taken over our lives?
Ah, the instruction manual, that will explain it all! Where is it? What do you mean it is on the phone? I cannot see it. Where is it? Just go to the URL, we are told. The URL? What is that? Is it in the bathroom near the URinaL?
At about at this point that there is only one way out of the mess. Call a child or grandchild to help lead you out of this technology maze we have found ourselves in. Right now there never seems to be a skill that we have learned in our many years of experience that they need. So, today the river of knowledge seems to be in reverse of how it has been for centuries, flowing uphill.
Pretty soon our employment laws will be saying only those under the age of 16 are allowed to do this type of work!