Technological Retardery12.17.10

Fifteen years ago, anyone past 40 who did email was considered pretty cool. Now it seems to be the lower end of normal. A recent Google blog featured online teaching videos as gifts from young people to their parents to lighten the tech burden of helping their parents get up to speed.

I marvel at my own disinterest in trying to figure out how to do all the tricky things that are possible with a decent computer these days. My kids shake their heads in disbelief that with so much available at my fingertips I’d rather do what’s safe and known, even if it takes three times as long and looks thirty times worse. The phrase  self-proclaimed technological retardery fits me.

But why? My standard response is that I’m too busy or maybe too lazy. Sometimes I blame the lack of dimensionality – after all, I came of age long before ubiquitous net access did. When I was forming my views of reality, the world was 3D. Two-dimensional representations like drawings or photos made sense only because they derived their existence from a 3D world. Even spiritual realities seemed to have more than two dimensions. After all, if God made the world this beautifully textured, colored, and rich in sound, taste, and scent, how could the spiritual world be any less? Surely it had to be 4D or more.

But on my computer, everything is flat – there is little dimensionality. I’m not fooled. Moving my cursor over a category in order to fan it out and see what is “under” it might be a slight improvement over lists, but I long for the weight and solid feel of my piles of papers and books. When looking for a document in a real pile, my kinesthetic memory supplies all sorts of cues to help me find it. Was it a pile on the floor? Was it up high? Did I have to reach around something when I put it down? What was I doing before I put it down? What did I do after I put it down? Was the paper slick or rough? Wrinkled or flat? Yellow or beige? My body remembers this, and prompts my mind even when I forget to put the item in a file with a clear label, which is most of the time.

My kinesthetic memory can’t help me so much with my computer.  If something is not filed in a consistent manner with the date and title always written in the same way and saved in the same place, I might never find it again even using some pretty powerful search functions.  The skills needed to maximize my computer are ones I’d rather not develop at this time in my life. It’s a lot easier to just do things as I’ve always done them, which is why I’ve got to face the music and realize that at heart it is laziness – not just laziness in the sense of time and energy investment, but laziness in that I would have to change in order to interface with my computer more effectively. On some deep level I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to discipline myself to label documents in the same way every time. After all, it’s my computer, so why should I have to do it differently than I always have?  I also don’t like being a newbie, having to try and fail many times as I work with a new application. It hurts my ego and slows me down from doing what I want to do.  Can you relate? And does this only happen with technology? I’m beginning to wonder if these aren’t the same reasons a lot of people shy away from new experiences, ideas, and relationships as they get older. It’s just a lot easier not to have to change.

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Uncategorized.

8 Responses to “Technological Retardery”

  1. One of the reason that the kindle book reader doesn’t attract me is that I love the tactile feel of a book. Hardbacks, even more so, still have a “feel” that a paperback can’t match. Yet my 82 year old mom loves being able to read on hers.

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    Posted by Ronna on 12/13/09 December 17th, 2010 at 9:39 PMReply

    • I’m like you about newspapers- something about the association of the smell of newsprint and coffee. News content without the calming sensory balance of those smells can suck me into feeling overwhelmed too quickly. Your mom is pretty cool!

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 11:56 AMReply

  2. How timely! My cousin/sister Terri and I were just sharing yesterday how our kids are so curt with us about our technological “innocence.” Not having the tone off when we text on our cell phones is enough to drive a 20 something ballistic. How can we not know that it is so uncool? How do you turn it off by the way? 😀


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    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 1:17 AMReply

    • Technological “innocence” sounds a lot better than the “r” word. And how would I know how to turn it off?!?

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 11:58 AMReply

  3. You are RIGHT Andrea, not to mention that things of less one-to-one interaction ..but then again, live video (when it works-ha)helps with SOME live interactions, as some typed emails can be taken the wrong way, and tones can’t be felt, seen, and are mis-interpreted at times! I tho’t I was staying up-to-date with “new things” but wow, cell phones and all those choices are even getting too much for me-ha! I just want simple, call and talk 🙂 !
    Help us Lord to care more for PEOPLE and turning OUTWARD, instead of gagets and turning INWARD I PRAY!
    ~blessings, wisdom, and strength for you and Family over these days of remembering God’s greatest gift: JESUS, I pray in HIS name!

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    Posted by JulieH on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 5:47 AMReply

    • I find it a little easier to read something that threatens me than to intentionally spend time with someone I feel threatened by. Maybe gadgets can help some of us connect with people and ideas in a slightly more cushioned environment than face-to-face and therefore be slightly more open to change because of feeling less threatened…but losing the real-time ability to monitor how someone is reacting to what we say and vice-versa can lead to some real gaps and miscommunication events.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 12:04 PMReply

  4. I guess that is the beauty of the help desk. At work there is always someone in India on the other end of the line if I forget my password or can’t access my email or the computer looks blank. At home, Dan can answer most questions, too, but I try to save my capital for important help questions. If I need a lot of help at home I just do something simple if possible, so that he will be willing to help when I am really desperate. I am thankful for Stephanie who often answers my photo and facebook questions! Otherwise I am like you and try stick to what I know I can handle.

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    Posted by Kristine L on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 11:06 AMReply

    • Love the phrase “save my capital”! Glad your family has so many tech-savvy folks in it- not surprising since you’re pretty savvy about just about everything including how to wisely choose the time, place, depth of question, and person to ask.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 December 18th, 2010 at 12:13 PMReply

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