DGLM has had some technological challenges this past week; the cable that carries the internet into our office was somehow severed. (Sabotage obviously. I blame the North Koreans, fresh from their triumph hacking into the Sony Pictures system, exposing the unguessed-at truth that Hollywood folks can be small-minded and mean.) Anyway, my inability to access email, our office network, or the majority of my saved files was disorienting. Then Sharon, tech genius that she is, showed me how to access my e-mail via my spam filter. This seemed to me thrillingly covert–a bit like crawling into a locked building through its garbage chute–but the interface was so basic. There was no “undo” button, no save. The result was ugly. Outlook Express and iOS have been saving me from myself. I see that now.
Our computer troubles also allowed me some time to muse on my fraught relationship with technology. I grew up in a family of late (to never) adopters. My parents were unmoved by cable, video games, computers, VCRS, or even color televisions. I had mixed feelings about this when I was a kid. I cultivated a friendship with a kindly agoraphobic neighbor who watched TV all the day long. To her I owe any knowledge of the A-Team, daytime talk-shows and soap operas that I may possess.
Still, I’ve followed in my parents footsteps. My sons have had comparatively little exposure to technology. Given my line of work and benign but inchoate ideas about child-rearing, it seemed natural to favor books over tablets, paper over gaming devices, outdoors over indoors. But this year—specifically this Christmas–that’s about to change. We’re buying our sons their own computer.
We are: a) caving or b) emerging from the rock under which we’ve been living, because as it turns out, the standardized tests that kids in our town will take later this year require them to type. And so it seems cruel not to allow them to build the skills that they will so obviously need.
I can still remember the day when I realized that a computer, not a pencil, was a truer, faster connection between my thoughts and the page. I felt a little sad, because I still love the physical act of writing. For me, a good fine line felt tip pen is a source of pleasure. Today, however, few kids are taught cursive at all. I’m no Luddite, but part of me finds it awfully sad that reading script will be a skill reserved to archivists. Or–who am I kidding?–an app.
Technology is a great boon—it facilitates so much—but I’m curious about your relationship with it. Or, in the words of Ali G, “Tech-mology: Is it Good, or is it Whack?”