Frequently, there is a portion of my brain split between two demographics. It’s uncomfortable, neither place entirely comfortable, which is basically how I feel at the sale rack of a shoe department at the mall.
As a social media specialist, also a mantle that is as scratchy to wear as a boiled wool scarf, I frequently explain the technological differences between two subsets of people.
Technology Testy: I sit around people who have their faces in the screen of their phone. They are disassociated and rude. How can this occupy all their time? Don’t they see me sitting there?
Smart Phone Savvy: I am away from so many of my friends. Everyone is so busy. A quick text, a SnapChat, and we’re connected. We might not see each other. But we’re there.
Technology Testy: No one writes thank you notes anymore. It’s a thing of the past. It’s like they can’t sit down and focus. I’m not even sure, through my gift, that I made a connection.
Smart Phone Savvy: I absolutely loved their gift. I appreciate the money completely. I thanked them when we were group chatting. It’s more significant to tell someone in person. (Pause.) Where do you put a stamp?
I do not adhere to the theory that it’s generational. It’s the Luddites versus Microsoftees (or Applettes). It’s like an extra gene. You’re born with it. You’re not. I have an 80 year old friend and a late-70’s step dad, both smoothly navigating the internet waters. They can search, post web maps, and copy pictures to Facebook with the best of them. And I know 40-somethings who administer the worst websites imaginable.
So it’s a thing.
Yeah. I love technology. I’m endlessly fascinated by the search features we almost take for granted. As a fourth-grader, I can still remember painstakingly crafting a report on Africa from the World Book Encyclopedia, magazines, and books, at the library, citing all their locations, with cut-out pictures from the out-of-circulation stack. There is a portion of me that would like to teach students how to use the library like the old days. You will appreciate the variety of locations from which publications originate, dammit.
But now, as a graduate student, oh, how I love being able to punch up a topic and let my “fingers do the walking.” This is an old Yellow Pages ad jingle. Don’t know it? Look it up. Wait. You might not even know about Yellow Pages. Well, you can look that up, too.
But here’s where no one gets off free.
There is someone out there. And all they want is to hear from you.
We administer our time, popping texts back and forth with certain people, while selfishly waiting for others to reach out to us. We know, deep down, that we could absolutely make someone’s day with a phone call. Or a text. Or a Facebook post. And we hoard that time, technology misers, because we are busy. Short on time. So sorry. Later.
You could be forgiven, sins absolved, if we still had long distance charges. (Don’t know about that, either? Look it up. You paid by zone and by minutes. It sucked. But it put a precious tag on talking time. You savored each minute and despaired when the object of your affections rang off.) But you are not let off the hook.
The cost today is minimal and maybe that’s why we’ve treated it like a cheap commodity, rather than the rich and expansive asset that it is.
This is not about calling senior citizens, although if that’s the person in your life that needs a ring, great. Do it. But they’re not the only ones. We’re all included. Missing a friend? Disconnected from a relationship? Hello. Pick up the phone.