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Chatterbox: Can you feel it?


Time flies when we’re having fun. Okay ... who are we kidding? Time flies … period, and keeping up gets harder as we get older.

New technology is daunting to say the least. It leaves many in the dust, even the tech-savvy are challenged, but I’m stumped by a slow shut-down on my computer.

The new geography of life also makes us nuts as our children leave for other towns, states or become expatriates (though I find that word completely unnerving as it makes them sound like double agents) and we find out via Facebook or Twitter that they got engaged.

Large numbers of us, especially baby boomers, are daunted, to say the least, as our world goes topsy-turvy via technology. It slapped me back once again, last week, when I forced myself to do a quick bit of very necessary shopping. Of course, none of us is alone in this. Retail stores are closing by the baker’s dozen and we are repeatedly being forced to shop online. People shopping, self-serve, online is the pipedream of all corporation’s lettered execs; its free labor. There are fewer employee salaries and benefits, and fewer timesheets to keep or accountants to pay.

Many of us aren’t fans but I’m a dinosaur: How do I know from a photo online that the fabric is practically see-through, that it feels scratchy or that the garment even fits? The younger generation may just understand it better, navigate it better, or has become accustomed to delayed shipments, late gifts and stuff we can’t return. The boomers, though, are more hands-on people. We want to touch it, hold it up to the light and … dare I even say it … try it on.

Online, we order it in three sizes, wait four weeks for things to come from countries the names of which we can’t even pronounce where we aren’t sure working conditions are desirable, and send two back when they don’t fit, only to find out they can’t be returned – a little something we would have been better off knowing sooner than later.

That’s not all. We’d like to know, where is that “cloud”? Seriously, if we are using it to store our treasured photos and keep our finances straight, don’t we want to know where it is? Does it rain? How do I know when I’ve reached the soaking point, and where does my stuff go then?

I was reminded a couple of times recently that all my pictures from the first trip my hubby and I took to Italy were accidentally erased when sun glare preventing us from being able to see our new camera’s screen properly. That would never happen with film. Ah … remember film? Give me some film, a medium I could wrap my brain around, get my fingers on. We bought it, used it, developed it, and tucked the pictures into a book to be viewed at will. Sure, if we missed a great shot, we wouldn’t know until we got the photos back but that was just part of life. It taught us to deal with disappointment and wait for another chance. It wasn’t perfect but neither is a full SD card … as if I know how those work.

I want a life accessorized by things I can put my fingers on and wrap my brain around. I know I can’t possibly be alone on this. Yesterday, I spent over an hour trying to find out how a vinyl record gets digitalized and why we want them. I mean, seriously, who’s with me here?

Now, the holidays are approaching. Online shoppers will be straining their eyeballs and burning the midnight screen to gather up gifts that we pick out of a lineup, are made on the other side of the world, get wrapped in gift paper we neither choose nor see, are shipped to loved ones working remotely from Rome, Dubai or Detroit, feel like sandpaper even though they were described as silky soft, and will be kept in the car for emergencies only. It’s not every shopper and it’s not every gift, but online is becoming the dominant method of shopping. We can concede that it is more convenient than mall hopping, but it’s not fun when footwork gets replaced by guesswork.

For those of us who are die-hard mall shoppers, fabric strokers, and procrastinators, I extend kudos for embracing the crown of dinosaurs as we teeter between the pre-historic and the post-hysteria of a life we can’t seem to get the feel of.

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