New technology opens new chapters in life

September 24, 2013

I’m not a big fan of social media, much to the consternation of my children. Well, I guess consternation is not the right word; it’s more like affirmation that social media is beyond my limited comprehension. Even though I’ve managed to raise these same children, run a household, keep a career, and take care of any crisis, which includes rescuing one child from a roof and extricating another child from under the hem of a large woman’s dress in a department store. At some point I became an extension for their local ATM machine, providing emergency funds for their every financial need. And yet I have somehow fallen through the cracks of parenting.

Still, I should warn you, in spite of all this, if you are not up on the latest technology, which includes a game called Angry Birds, your children believe you are seriously lacking in brain cells and probably dropped a lot of acid in the ‘70s. My own opinion is they are fortunate I’m not still using a rotary phone.

Anyway, I did advance to a cellphone, which I really enjoyed once I got the hang of it, approximately one hour before the three-year warranty ran out. Then, after much hysterical laughter and choking whenever I took the cellphone out, I finally bought one of those iPhones. OK, so my old cellphone was so enormous it did look like it was a walkie-talkie from World War II. I have to admit it was rather large, but at least I could find it in my purse and it doubled as a concealed weapon on those dark nights I had to walk back to my car alone after wiring those same children emergency funds.

Now I have a 3-year-old grandchild who lives in another part of the country. So we are in that phase of technology where we Skype. Basically this gives you the chance not only to talk to each other, but also to see each other on a device called an iPad, and if you have a 12-year-old handy, you can even do this on your phone.

I have no idea how this works, much like electricity is still a mystery. I mean, I know there are wires and stuff, but don’t ask how it gets to my house. To me, knowing how electricity works is having memorized the emergency number to the power and light company.

However, most weekends we try to use this technological device to yell, “Can you see me now,” over and over again. We stand on chairs, tip it upside down and move it to the left and right until the only shot that is in focus is the traffic two miles away on Route One. At one time, a stray dog came into view and the other people continued their conversation, not knowing that the canine wasn’t really my new hairdo. It takes quite a while to realize you have your thumb over the monitor in the corner, so the other party is basically looking at your nail bed.

When I finally do figure this out, I really don’t like the size of my head and the way my face seems to loom over the image. I’m about as relaxed as one of those black-and-white streaming photos from a captured spy plane in the ‘50s. You know, where the pilot is sitting in front of a camera, speaking in a halting voice and trying to convince everyone he has converted to the other side.

You can almost see the grandchild recoiling in horror at what is being passed off as her grandparents. In fact, I think there is a whole series of children’s books out now on iPad nightmares. Instead of checking under the bed, parents now have to check all tech devices before children can go to sleep.

Hey, this is no joke. This has opened a whole new chapter for me. It’s called looking for a plastic surgeon in the yellow pages.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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