Sunday, July 21, 2013

Technology: Making Me Feel Old

Earlier this week, Jason had mentioned wanting to buy a new television for the upstairs den. I was abhorred at the idea, despite the large "box" TV being over 20 years old and thought it was a waste of money when we have a perfectly functioning television already in there.

Well, of course... OF COURSE.

It wasn't the den TV though, it was the one in our bedroom, equally old, but this one from my pre-married life, while the one upstairs was from Jason's. I bought the television around November of 1991 from Montgomery Wards. I remember that so succinctly because it was an extravagance I couldn't really afford at the time. It was even longer before I could afford cable. I learned a lot about cooking catfish and painting Happy Trees in those days.

Fast-forward 22 years, and Benjamin was rolling around in the bed watching Dora while I worked on the lap-top. The TV started running colored lines across it and we just assumed Benjamin had rolled across the remote. When we realized that wasn't the case, Jason tried adjusting the channels and such, while I smelled doom. Doom was the sweet acrid smell of a blown picture tube, and then came the Post-National-Anthem Black & White Snow of a television laid to rest. It was odd how quickly the recesses of my memory remembered that smell. I remember several visits to television repair shops during childhood.
Thus, Thursday's agenda was highlighted by a trip to the Navy Exchange to buy a new television. I had a friend in high school whose family didn't own a television. I was awed by that. I was equally awed by a recent friend that did not have cable... at all! I am not a fan of the fact that our semi-open downstairs floor plan puts the television at the heart of our home- right in the center with all else pivoting around it. I am not proud that our television per person ratio in this house is 1:1.
However, if you think I am going to chance missing a single episodes of the new seasons of  "Honey Boo Boo" "Project Runway" from the comfort of my own bed, you are sadly mistaken.
While shopping, I looked at several thises and that (and finally bought a Keurig!). The odd one that caught my eye (because it was near school supplies on sale... squee!) was a headset with microphone for PS2. It was quite apt that I saw this at the Navy Exchange because it looked like the headset Air Traffic Controllers use to bring in jets on a carrier. That's not why it caught my eye though. We do not have a PS2. I highly doubt we ever will because by the time Benjamin will ask for one, there will probably be a PS5 (which means we'll buy a PS4 by Jason's theory on video game shopping). It struck my attention because it punctuates an ongoing conversation Jason and I have- not such a unique topic I am sure.
Jason hates when I say we met online because it is not technically true. I met him in person before I ever chatted with him online. However, back in the late-late 90's we both "hung out" in a chat room. Doing so didn't have that sense of anonymity for us that it may have had for most in those days (point of reference: Catfish). It was a regional chat room and we personally met and knew many of the people we talked with on-line. Eventually our "real" lives became too interesting to worry about our "on-line" lives and chatting just faded away... and of course, there was just too much drama. Oh, the drama.
I had a MySpace account for a while, which like most of the rest of civilization (except Justin Timberlake) morphed over to  Facebook account. And, I like Facebook. I am a people watcher. I like reading biographies and watching reality shows so I like the slices of life of people I am barely acquainted with that Facebook provides. I may have not have spoken to a childhood friend since I was twelve but I know that her ex-husband always brings their daughters home late from visitation weekends. And, I my not have shared one single conversation with a certain popped-collared snobby guy from high school but I now know what he has for dinner at least three times a week. Still... it is easy to define Facebook as "social" media because there is an EXCHANGE of information and ideas.
Of course, now that all of us "old folks" are populating the profiles of FB, the kids are fleeing. I caught a clip of Jimmy Fallon the other night and he said the kids are turning to Instagram and Twitter or, as they tell their parents, "Nothing" and "Nevermind."
I signed up for a Twitter account a while ago just so I could use it to enter contests, but was highly unamused by it. I reinstalled the Twitter app during International Convention this summer so I could follow what was going on. I added a few people to my Twitter feed... and quickly grew bored with it again. I don't like the lack of exchange the format offers. I would rather respond to someone's comment than "retweet" it. I also don't care to know every. passing. thought. a person has. I have not yet tried Instagram. However, considering my lack of interest in "selfies" posted on Facebook, I don't imagine I will be a fan of an entire social media format built to promote such narcissism.
What I see mainly happening is this ongoing human disconnect fueled by "social" media. Ironic. Formats such as chat or Facebook give the illusion of social connection. Through Twitter, and maybe Instagram, you may know  whole lot more about a person because of the tendency to stream every. passing. thought, but you connect with them a whole lot less. Ironic. It parallels to the hour long telephone conversations of yesteryear morphing into day-long text marathons today. Again, there may be an actual influx of a lot more information... but at the cost of a much less connection. And, it has been my experience that you quickly become desensitized to the difference and the "lesser" becomes the standard. The norm. Ironic.
So, the headset. I won't "Throwback" all the way to Pong, mainly because I was too poor as a kid to own an Atari. But, I do have fond memories of sitting side-by-side with a friend for hours on end playing Tetris on Nintendo in our Young Mom days. Now, I could just lock on my headset "dial-up" my PS2 on-line and play with some random tween from Colorado... except it would surely be a game involving a whole lot more bloodshed than Tetris (and I'm a pretty extreme Tetris player). Thus, it punctuates this ongoing dialogue I have about the ills of technology.
I am feeling rather Ray Bradbury with these musings.

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