Like myself, I’m sure many people were the recipients of electronic gadgets and gizmos this Christmas.
In fact, no one will probably read this column because we’re all still trying to figure out how to work the darn things.
My niece had to show me how to open the laptop I received for my birthday and Christmas.
She let me struggle for a couple minutes.
“Kate, you open it from the other side,” Emma patiently said.
She’s 10 years old.
“Great, I’ve become my mother,” I thought in my head.
My mother once took a cell phone back to the store because it wasn’t “working properly.”
The power was off. The sales person simply pressed the power button and handed the phone back to her.
It appears a cell phone has to be on in order for it to “work properly.”
I continue to laugh about this... but I realize I’m not far behind her.
Despite being 24 years old, I’m not a big tech fan. I don’t know how to download songs. I just recently learned how to burn things onto a CD and my college friends had to create my Facebook account.
I know I’m missing out on some cool stuff. I have friends that can order a pizza, take pictures, get directions, listen to music and call me, all on their phone.
For me, that’s way too many options.
I want to use my phone for the one thing it was intended to do - call people.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the benefits of technology.
If it weren’t for my handy dandy cell phone, how would I call my father to come rescue me when my car dies? I’ve already forgotten how people went anywhere before Mapquest? How would I have completed my Christmas shopping (which included a discontinued Nintendo DS game) if it weren’t for Amazon.com?
In this day and time, people bank online, shop online, socialize online, play games online, gamble online, read online, talk online, hear songs online, get college degrees online, apply for jobs online, plan trips online, book flights and rent cars online... and on and on and on.
And so the possibilities of what I can do with my laptop are endless!
I admit, when I opened the gift Christmas night, I was speechless. In an odd way, the laptop did seem like the complete solution to anything and everything.
“Now I can write a book... Now I can search for answers to every question I don’t know... Now I can design invitations to any future gathering or party... Now I can play this game... Now I can bank online right from my bed...”
I started to imagine myself as part of those endless possibilities.
Even my father, who I never thought would learn the ways of the internet, now knows all about my laptop and Google.
With the online search engine, he has found a way to access information on his two favorite subjects - history and the weather.
This might be a good thing for my family. We might be able to watch something other than the Weather and History Channels.
But sometimes technology makes me mad.
Like the guy behind me in the movie theaters a couple weeks ago, who proceeded to answer his phone in the middle of the movie. To my surprise, he also proceeded to continue and finish a lengthy conversation with his phone-a-friend.
And speaking of friends, I have a good friend who I’ve never seen complete a meal without texting, sometimes ignoring and missing the interaction with those of us who are physically right in front of her.
Just last week, I watched a national news report about teenagers who were addicted to Facebook.
One teenage girl admitted to spending at least four hours each day on the site.
I laughed out loud.
I mean, really. Give me a break.
What kind of people really do stuff like that?
But then I got a laptop.
Let me preface this by saying that I share some characteristics of an 80-year-old woman.
I like to eat lunch at noon and supper before 7 p.m.
As previously admitted, I’m scared of technology.
I would rather wear my worn-out loafers instead of high heels.
And I like to be in bed by 10 p.m.
So, as I sat in bed the other night with my new laptop, engrossed in the pictures, postings and general updates of all my Facebook friends, I was surprised to look over at the clock and see it was midnight.
Oh no. My laptop really is changing my life, I thought.
I have become... brace yourself... a Facebook junkie.
Technology, I believe, has changed us all, for both the good (think Mapquest) and the bad (think of the obnoxious guy talking on his phone during a movie).
While Facebook and other social networks allow me to keep up with my friends that live all over the place, it also makes me miss them.
Because despite all that the Internet and Facebook can offer, they can’t provide the real connection people make when they’re together.
And I hope this is something we, as humans, never give up to technology.
But there’s no doubt in my mind that computer techies won’t try to come close.
A few months ago, I sat in the library at Westside Elementary, watching students chat with an author in Connecticut through Skype.
And I’ll admit, it was very cool.
I guess we have no idea where this technology stuff is going to go.
I can’t even begin to imagine.
But until then, and maybe even after, I’m going to continue in my granny-like ways - sending handwritten notes in the mail, wearing old loafers... and limiting my Facebook time to only 10 minutes a day.
Maybe 20 on the weekends.