When I was a kid, we had a telephone attached to the wall in the kitchen. It had a flexible cord on it so you could only walk so far away from the wall. The phone also had a dial with numbers. We would use one finger and place it in the hole that corresponded with the number we were dialing. We then turned the dial for each number. Somehow, we were able to communicate with the world through that phone. Back then, we didn’t have to dial an area code. I guess our world was a little smaller. Just to reference what I am talking about, think of the song that says; “8675309”. We were privileged to even have a phone. Not everybody could afford to have this contraption on their wall.
The world has changed and so has our communication technologies. We moved forward in the evolution of the phone by getting rid of the dial and making it a push button. It was so exciting that we could punch those buttons so much faster than dialing. Still, the phone was attached to a cord to limit our movement while talking. But, the wheel was set in motion. The telephone was taking on new qualities that blew our mind away each time something changed. The phone was still a permanent structure in the home, either anchored to the wall or sitting on a side table. If you weren’t home and someone called, they would have to call you back later. There was one other way to communicate via telephone when you weren’t home and that was the telephone booth. There was a slot for dimes, pennies, nickels and quarters. We would place a dime in the slot and dial a home telephone number. If the dime didn’t cover the time frame that we were using the phone, an operator would interrupt and tell us to place more money in the slot. Otherwise, we would be cut off.
Then a new revolutionary idea was introduced. We called it the bag phone. This phone was mobile and plugged into the lighter compartment in our car. It was amazing. This was considered a new safety measure. We no longer had to find a telephone booth and get out of the car to call someone if we had an emergency. We could make our calls from the safety of our own car. The connections weren’t always the greatest but if you were alone and traveling within a reasonable distance, you could get help if you needed it.
From the time of the bag phone until present the telephone has morphed into an unimaginable contraption. Our lives will never be the same. The problem with this upsurge of fast-moving changes is that humans don’t always evolve as quickly as technology does. The telephone is no longer a telephone. It is a computer with a camera. It has maps and talks to you. You can talk to it and it answers back. It thanks you for stopping into a McDonald’s Restaurant. How did it know I was in Mcdonald’s?
The smart-phone world is getting more crazy by the minute. The changes move at lightning speed. But, as we age, our minds no longer move at lightning speed. Aging people struggle with all the new technology and get frustrated. But, I have to say, it can be quite an entertaining experience watching us old folks traverse into the unknown. For example, my boyfriend is 64 years old. He has had a flip-phone up until two years ago. Now he has graduated to a smart-phone. He doesn’t know what to do with it. But, he likes that he can say “ok google” and command it to text something or give him the score of the baseball game. The smart-phone is smarter than he is. I also have to admit that it is way smarter than myself too. Last week, he tried to use the camera on the phone. When he turned on the camera he could only see himself. But he didn’t want to take a picture of himself, he wanted to snap a photo of something else. He stared at the phone wondering how to make it flip the lens to take a picture of the outer world. In his logical aging mind, he decided to turn the phone around and try to look through the lens from the back of the phone just like you would look through the lens using an old camera. The fact that he even was brave enough to tell me this story had me rolling on the floor laughing. He just couldn’t figure it out so I had to show him the little icon that switches the lens from selfie to outward camera. I couldn’t keep this information to myself. I had to share this hilarious story with everyone I came in contact with. While sharing the story with my brother, who is also in his 60’s, he told me a story of his own. My brother was at work and a customer called from overseas, needing help with a machine maintenance problem. My brother informed him that he would take a picture of a particular machine part and send it to him and they could figure out the problem over the phone. After my brother took the picture, he sent it immediately to the customer. He followed up and called the man to see what his thoughts were about the picture. The customer stated that he indeed had received the picture. He told my brother that although it was a very good photo of him, he really wanted to see the machine part. My brother didn’t even realize that he took a selfie and sent it instead of the machine part.
My mother is 87 years old. She has a flip phone for emergencies. When my sister offered to get her a smartphone, she got scared and said, “No, I don’t want to learn how to use those things.” The other thing about aging is the fact that after a certain age it is very hard to read from those tiny screens on smartphones. That is one reason that my boyfriend liked the idea of moving from the flip phone to a smartphone. He likes that he can talk to the phone to text or call people, simply because he can’t see the tiny numbers and letters on the phone.
My final thoughts on the subject are this: Just because we are older, we are not stupid. But, our minds do move at a slower pace than when we were young. New technology is a scary thing for older people. Most people are afraid of change but the speed at which these technological changes happen is even more frightening to those of us who are moving along where age is concerned. If you take anything from this post, please be patient with those of us who can’t text at lightning speed like me. One letter at a time is all I can do. Slow and steady is the name of the game. At least we are trying to move along with the pace of the ever-changing world.