Adapting to technology: One byte at a time, please

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Technologically speaking, my family and I have always been more Luddite than early-adopter. We are not the first people on the block to have high-speed this or digital that. We are more comfortable being among the last.
I like to let other people work out all the bugs before I jump on a (slowing) bandwagon.
That said, I realize my husband and I have become quaint. No different than our great-grandparents who waxed rhapsodic about the early days of radio and the magic of having those first (three!) television channels beamed straight into their living rooms.
Reality. On Thanksgiving Day, my grandmother expressed an interest in the hand-held video game our son was playing. As our son excitedly shared with his Gram all the neat things this little palm-sized device could do, Mr. Wonderful and I were brought up short.
In the game itself ($130 retail) and the handful of games he carries on his person at all times ($35 apiece) our 10-YEAR-OLD had roughly $400 worth of technology stuffed in his pocket.
Yes, my friends, the child who routinely misplaces his own toothbrush has a personal net worth that outranks the contents of my wallet on any given day.
“In our day,” Mr. Wonderful will intone sagely, “we had to go down to the local arcade or convenience store and feed quarters into a PacMan game if we wanted to play a video game.”
We may as well claim we walked 5 miles uphill barefoot in the snow to get there.
We were also really smitten with a game called “Simon.” In Simon, an array of colored lights will randomly light and – get this kids – we would strive to repeat the pattern! Good times.
My own children view this with the same jaded eye as we might have upon learning of the glee and joy our ancestors had in flicking their first ever electric light bulb on and off for sport.
Play. Both children received for Christmas tiny devices measuring less than 2 inches square that hold up to 500 songs. I’m easily four times older than my daughter and I don’t even KNOW 500 songs, do you?
I tried to explain cassette tapes and how tickled we were back in the ’80s with our travel cases that would allow us to take up to a DOZEN tapes to be listened to in the car.
Or, better yet, the early walkmans that clipped to the belt. If you had ample pockets, you could sometimes carry an extra cassette or two and have up to two dozen songs to choose from.
View. They observe the old VHS videotapes of their early childhood the same way I did the old 16-millimeter home movies my great-grandparents had stashed on a closet shelf.
“I’m sure they’d be fun and all, but how in the heck do we play them?”
Now we have a shiny silver box that sits atop the television and magically records our favorite programs. It weeds out repeats; categorizes by genre and neatly organizes the programs into a nifty little menu that even a preschooler can zip through with ease.
I wish this thing could handle our household accounts.
My camera fits in the palm of my hand and can show them the photo a nanosecond after the shutter has released. Even the smallest children I know will rush you almost before the flash has dimmed saying, “Let me see! Let me see!”
The puzzlement on a small child’s face as he flips over an old film camera and sees no image displayed on the back is worth digging up an old camera just for that purpose.
Desktop. In their grandparents’ day, the only “desktop” school kids discussed was the one you’d duck and cover underneath if the Soviets were attacking and you needed a place to hide.
Windows were what you needed to stay away from in that same instance.
Now my children are on our desktop computer regularly. We have “pets” that exist only in the virtual world (and that must be tended to with the regular care of a newborn human baby).
My daughter’s third-grade classmate told me sagely (and correctly) that Apple Macs were preferable over PCs for photo editing. She’s 8.
Granted, all this technological prowess comes at a price. My children are too young for it now, but I’m sure in just a few short years, when they start going on about Facebook this and MySpace that, my head will officially explode.
You know what used to be my space? A nice quiet existence sans 500 songs plugged directly into the ear, light speed technology and dozens of prerecorded movies, photos and conversations awaiting – nay DEMANDING – my attention.
Now technology is all around us, and while I adore it, I can’t get any space to save my life.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt only knows 300 songs. Tops. She welcomes comments c/olifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.com
.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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