As previously reported in this space I'm pretty much a techno-idiot. In order to explain and clarify that statement of fact let me simply say that when it comes to the newest (or even oldest) computer gadgets, technical skills and terminology of the modern world I'm very much dazed and confused. My honest excuse for this shortcoming is that I grew up in a different era when things were much simpler.
As an example, in order to make a phone call in my day one merely picked up the land line phone, dialed a much shorter number than we do today and waited for a response. If there was no answer we could always give the message to one of the people on our party line and move on to the next order of business. It was a highly efficient system. By the way I'm not going to explain the term party line to you young whippersnappers out there. Just ask one of your elders.
That's just one case of how drastically things have changed, and I'm pretty sure it was a better way than today's technical minefield. So now we delve into the complicated subject of how today's terminology can be so confusing to those of us who grew up in a different period.
The other day a younger guy asked me if I had a smartphone. My initial response went something like this. “I don't reckon so, even though I've never thought to give it an IQ test. My phone just rings when someone calls me.”
I haven't heard from that young man again. He's probably ashamed to be seen talking with me. I later learned that smartphones actually have computers in them so that one can better browse the internet while on the job. To me that is just a new-fangled way of goofing off at work.
Then there's “skyping.” I recently eavesdropped (accidentally) on a man and a woman discussing the various options regarding this digital age phenomenon. Unfortunately I thought the word had some kind of sensual overtones and my ears immediately perked up. This is how ugly rumors get started. Since I couldn't find the word in my dictionary I called one of my daughters to get some help. Turns out it's a way of talking to another person on the computer while simultaneously looking at them on the screen. I thought the only ones who could do that were the crew of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek.
Another one of these New Age terms is cookies. I got some kind of message the other day on my e-mail (which I have learned to navigate quite nicely thank you) that said my cookies were now enabled. I didn't know what in the Sam Hill that meant. I was pretty sure the sender had no idea what kind of cookies were in my pantry much less whether I was able to eat them or not. It seemed like a typographical or grammatical error to me. I've since been given a thorough technical explanation of the modern version of “cookies” and still don't get it. I can tell you one thing though. I'm going to keep a sharp eye out in the future to see who's spying on me at the grocery store when I go buy my snacks.
I also heard another new word recently during a phone conversation with a person whom I can only assume has a more advanced techno vocabulary than mine. At least I think I heard it right. “Blogging” was what it sounded like and I thought there must be a bad connection or that alcohol was involved. Turns out “blogging” is actually a modern way of saying that you are telling everybody else in the world about your business. In the old days we were strictly warned by our parents not to do things like that but I guess it's no longer taboo.
Of course there's plenty of other stuff out there like texting, software, hardware, and attachments. These are just a few of the many modern terms with which I'm thoroughly unfamiliar. I will say, however, that someone actually sent me a text message the other day and I'm pretty sure that his grammar school teachers failed him miserably because the poor chap didn't spell a single word correctly.
I'm trying to make the best of this entire situation, and so I've been thinking about how to make the most efficient use of these contemporary innovations in my life. Upon further review I've hit on an idea or two. I can now sit in my deer stand and send text messages on a smartphone that has updated software and hardware to my partner hunting in the stand just down the creek. I can let him know if a big buck is headed his way. We can also blog back and forth about how things are going in our particular part of the field if we like.
The best idea I've hit on, however, is that I now take my cookies to the deer stand and eat them in private. I bet the guy who sent me that e-mail will never figure that one out. I may be old but I ain't stupid.
Alvin Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.