Transitioning with Technology

My first mobile phone was attached to a carrying case. Do you remember those? “Bag phones” they were called. They came with a full phone handset that was almost custom fit for your ear, like a real original house phone. Today’s new portable house phones are danged uncomfortable. Am I the only one whose ear they do not fit? What happened to a more comfortable handset?

As for cell phones, I loved my flip phone! At least I had a place for my ear and a mouthpiece. We have been holding a skinny piece of flat plastic to our heads for a few years. I’m not quite sure about the safety of the battery signal and brain cancer, but that is another subject. I guess if I attach my headset, I get some comfort. Mine is not Bluetooth. Mine has an old-fashioned cord, double earphones, and a boom microphone. There are times when my knee catches the cord and either the headset flies off my head or the phone goes flying across the floor. That usually draws out a cuss word from me unless I’m currently talking to someone at the time of the breakaway.

Not only have phones evolved, but so has our computing capability. For those of you who are old enough, did you ever imagine being able to carry your computer in your pocket thirty years ago? The first computer I experienced was a PET in our math classroom about 1985 in ninth grade. It had a screen the size of a small television and only one color of print on the screen: green, with only a black background. The brain of the computer was the base that the monitor screen sat on, and it came with a full-size keyboard. No mouse. Those didn’t come around for a few years, and only on a weird system named after a fruit. Do you remember the discs we saved our information on? Those 5¼ inch floppy discs? If they sat by a telephone, the information could be erased by the ringing of the phone! They had to be carried in a sturdy case to protect them from being bent or crushed in our backpacks. Then came the evolution of the 3½ inch disc. Much more protected. Hard outer shell that could be thrown in our bags with our books.

My husband likes to tell me the story of his first experiences with computing. He remembers the mainframe beast that filled the basement of one of the buildings on campus and how he used punch cards. I had heard of this archaic way of computing in my computer history books. Chris actually got to write his first programs on it. Things have come so far in thirty years. We both used to have to do our computer work in a computer lab on campus. We would sign in to reserve a computer, and then get our work done with thirty to forty others sitting around the room on their reserved computers. Printing was sent to one central printer at the main desk where we checked in. At super-busy times, I had to walk across campus, many times in a winter wind, to one of the other labs in other buildings to see whether they were less busy. And if you weren’t done with your work by 10 p.m., too bad because the labs closed down.

During his first year of college classes, our son was required to get a laptop to be able to complete his lessons. Everything was online. Only a couple of classes actually had a printed outline of the class that he received or required that papers be printed on real paper. The laptop wasn’t the average laptop. It had to be one with a flip around screen that could lay flat. One class required them to lay flat for this reason: “If you are bored in lecture and start playing a game, we don’t want all of the students behind you watching your game and being distracted from the lecture.”

The communication tool that demands checking hourly is email. If class is cancelled last minute or extra assignments are due, the students find out in their email. Email was just being created my last year of college. Accessible public email was available after I was married. Today’s kids will never know what a non-digital age was like. They think non-digital is a place where there is no cell reception or a time when we choose to turn off the phone.

I am thankful for those places that have no service. They force me into that quiet place: that time to be still and hear nothing but nature.

Where are you over-connecting with technology?

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