Old Age, New Age
I’m old age. Cell phones, Smart Phones, iPhones, iPods, iPads, Twitter, Bookface (or maybe it’s Facebook) – – all new age. I have neither the time nor money for such indulgences, if were even interested, which I’m not. I don’t know a text from a tweet. When I see an ad for something with 4G, what is that, gravity, gigabytes, or does it mean 4th generation? Then there’s the # symbol, which was an abbreviation for number. Somehow it became the pound sign, and now all of a sudden it’s called a hash tag. What happened? Did somebody smoke a pound of hash or something? I guess I’m just a low-tech guy. I have a computer, but it’s the old wind-up model. I mean dial-up. My friends just got through dragging me, against my will, into the 20th Century, and I’m still a century behind. Geez, I sound just like Andy Rooney!
It’s not uncommon for the elderly to be resistant to change. We tend to think a lot of things were better off before they got new and improved. That’s not the only reason we appear bitter and cranky. When you reach a certain age, you realize that many of your fondest dreams will never be realized. In my case, I know I’m not ever going to see Lesbian Pairs Figure Skating in the Olympics. That’s probably just as well, since one of the partners would inevitably be a plus size with spiked hair and a flannel shirt. Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Martin Sheen – – none of them will ever be narrating my life story. I’m not going to play Arts & Literature in the movie version of Trivial Pursuit (okay, I stole that one from “30 Rock”).
I’ll never learn the secret behind Texas Toast. The Minnesota Vikings will never win a Super Bowl in my lifetime. I’ll never live to see my U.S. Constitution restored, along with our civil rights. Half the population never knew the world before Reagan; they have no idea how good it was. Back in those days a single wage-earner, usually the husband, had a good job with a living wage and benefits, something that two or more can’t do today. Republicans and Democrats, despite their differences, could actually get together and pass legislation. People’s rights were respected as well as defended. We realized that we lived in a society, and that meant we had a civic obligation to help each other. All that’s gone now, so many of us get a little bitter.
I’ve been left behind by the present, like those people after the Rapture. I’m okay with that, standing there, watching all of you recede into the future. Bye. Have a nice trip. You go ahead with your little hand-held gadgets made in China that you can’t possibly live without. It all looks slightly masturbatory to me. I’m afraid that if I got caught up in all that new technology, I wouldn’t be able to stop streaming. I mean, Jesus Scype!
Maybe all that continuous communication, mostly with people I’ve never met, just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d much rather be involved with my local environment, and my real friends. And I will always love the feel of a book in my hand, and the tactile sensation of turning a page. If anyone ever gives me an Amazon Kindle or a Sony Reader, I’m going to throw it right back at them like a Roger Clemens fast-ball. The writer Richard Rodriguez said he’s been to many a barmitzvah or other Jewish ceremony and he’s never seen them holding a Kindle above their heads. And how would you roll out the Torah? There’s something to be said for tradition.
I’ll tell you what, though. Someone needs to invent a new app for all those hand-held fallacies. This app would tell you everything that’s happening in your immediate environment, while the sum total of your consciousness is immersed in that tiny little screen in your hand. Here’s how it would work. BIP It’s a warm sunny day, with a slight breeze. BIP You are about to walk into an open manhole. BIP A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly just fluttered by. BIP Someone is reaching for your wallet (or into your purse). BIP There’s a big spider in your hair. BIP While you spend all your waking hours staring into the palm of your hand, there’s a wonderful and beautiful world out there, and it is passing YOU by.
Still, there’s something I like very much about the young people and all those technological wonders. It is making it much easier to organize a revolution than it used to be, and that’s a very good thing, indeed. Look at Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Syria, London, Israel, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Occupy Wall Street. Social media and our youth may yet save the day.