As I was heading out the door of my home one recent morning, a friend texted me: “Can we talk?” I texted back, on the diabolically small keyboard of my cell phone: “Only a few minutes…about to leave the house.” Then I realized, no, this is not the 1960s, I have a cell phone and I have Bluetooth technology in my car. No, I’m not anchored to a landline with which we used to have to be home to receive calls from people lucky enough to reach us, before we even had message recording machines. I then corrected myself and told my friend that yes, we could talk, and I would simply “take her with me” in the car.
This is a classic case of my boomer generation still coming to terms with the wave of technology that has washed over us over the past thirty years. Walking through the airport after getting off the plane after my most recent flight, I caught myself looking for the pay phones I used to use to call the shuttle. For God only knows what reasons, I still have the Rolodex I used to use to store names and contact information of people I knew back in the 70s and 80s. I’m probably waiting to ship it off to the Smithsonian Museum of Ancient Artifacts, along with my slide rule, mechanical calculator and typewriter.
I often feel that I live in a sort of La La Land, surrounded by technological delights I don’t even understand half the time. And I’m a geek, for crying out loud! But just as there were ancient Greeks, there are also ancient geeks. All the technology I learned as a young man, extending back to vacuum tubes used in radios and TV at the time, no longer exists. Now there are “apps” to make our lives easier, “clouds” in which to store information, and “emojis” to convey our moods.
We boomers have much to learn from our children about modern communications technology, but even more from our grandchildren—the true digital citizens of La La Land.
The original version of this column was written by me and published in a Ventura County newsletter, Amigos805.com, on March 9, 2017.