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Technology and me

By Staff | May 24, 2023

I continue being at odds with the modern technological world. I’ve felt this way since the beginning of the modern technological world.

I’ve started thinking that perhaps I was born in the wrong time period. It just would have been easier had I died in 1952, rather than born then. Things seem to have changed so much technologically over my lifetime so far.

In my “short” life, I’ve seen the advent of lots of new machinery, gadgets and conveniences. I remember when the first television, a black and white, was brought into my boyhood home.

As a young teenager, and as a signer on my parent’s checking account, I wrote out the check to Spence Ohlin – Radio Service in Richfield for the first color TV we had. As I recall it was over five hundred dollars – a small fortune. My parents weren’t home when it was delivered.

When I tell people that I remember working in an office before photo-copy machines were around, they really start wondering whether I’m really a dinosaur or just a liar. In those pre-copy machine days, if we wanted a map from the courthouse, we used onion skin paper, a ruler and a pencil and traced our copy from the original.

Computers, of course, have changed our world. They run everything. In my workplace we used to have a prominently displayed sign which read “Our policy is to blame the computer for everything.”

There are other computer quotes that I like. Here are some of my favorites: “Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog” (Doug Larson) “To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.” (Farmer’s Almanac, 1978)

“Hardware: the parts of a computer that can be kicked.” (Jeff Pesis) “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.” (Mitch Ratcliffe)

Little computers seem to be a part of just about everything we use these days. Cars have computers and computer problems. Dishwashers, clothes washers, you name it – all have complicated electronics. And when anything electronic meets me, the king of human error, something is bound to go wrong. I feel like I’m jinxed. Our current washing machine has about as many buttons as a cockpit in a commercial airliner.

I have a smartphone, like most of you. Sometimes I feel like the phone is possessed and besides that, I think it hates me. It truly is smarter than I am and the maddening thing is that teenagers and little children seem to be able to run it way better than me.

Financial institutions require new passwords from me. Then the new passwords don’t work. Arrgh! Don’t even get me started on PCs, printers, scanners and e-mail catastrophes.

Watching TV seems to often be a challenge. Sometimes figuring out how to run our televisions and DVR is beyond me. I think “DVR” stands for Digital Video Recorder, but I’m not sure. I can think of at least one good (or bad) “D word” that is more appropriate than digital. We have four remote controls for our television system in our family room. I don’t get it.

The question arises, “Am I as dumb as a cedar post or am I just being punished by the gods of Silicon Valley for some pre-earth life crimes or what?” Don’t answer that question.

I’m going to keep plugging away at my attempt to make friends with the technological world that I’ve received a life sentence to live in. The only other alternative that I can think of would be to find an isolated, primitive, tropical beach where I could live in a shack with no electronic technology. I’d live off fish and coconuts. Hmm – where’s my atlas?

— Merrill


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