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Chatterbox: It’s all relative


I just got off the phone with one of my dearest friends whom I’ve mentioned before.

She and her sister are my beloved neighbors. Tonight, we stumbled on a conversation about technology, who understands technology and who doesn’t.

Most youngsters today can DVR “Paw Patrol” before they turn 2. They know every button on the remote, and can crop a photo on your cell phone by age 3. Many years ago, one of my grandsons asked to see a video on my phone when he was not nearly 2. He could barely talk but he smiled, pointed to my cell phone and said, “Do ‘YouTube.’” It’s really rather remarkable. Yes, they learn it from adults but they capture it early, apply it aptly, and remember everything.

I had an experience a few years ago, with my youngest grandson when I was babysitting. He wanted to watch something he knew his mom had DVR’d (if that’s even an expression) for him, but I didn’t know how to do it. Having created havoc with her remote several times, I was reluctant to try and, when he asked for the remote, I couldn’t dare to give it to him. Still, as if it was any different than actually giving him the remote, I took instructions from him and pressed the buttons as he directed. Sure enough, the movie came on. My jaw dropped. He was 3.


Then, a few weeks ago, I saw a meme titled “Helping grandma with the remote.” It was a picture of a regular remote with masking tape covering all the buttons except the on/off button and those that adjusted the volume and changed the channel. Okay, so the AM/FM generation is still learning to work bass and treble. At least we are making strides.

It would be a sadder comment if we didn’t care enough to even try to stay abreast of technological advancements, and it’s imperative to remember that they are coming at us so fast that I’ve even heard young people say they’re struggling to keep up. If we don’t use them for work every day, get on a computer often enough to stay abreast, or take classes regularly, we relegate tech changes to a different file. Use it or lose it … and, especially for the generation of 45s and vinyl LP albums, we lose it fast … that’s assuming we ever had it.

Last week, I spoke to another dear friend whom I met on my first job out of high school. I had sent her some photos via the quickly becoming antiquated technology of email. We had a good laugh because neither she nor her husband could open the link. They would wait for their granddaughter to visit. Well, especially as I am 16 years younger than they, I can take no pride in the fact that I can copy and paste an email link. After all, I don’t know how to order Netflix; I don’t even have a television that can get them. Worse, I would like a new television and am actually afraid I won’t be able to work it. Worst of all, I’m not sure I want to have to learn.

Still, everything is relative. I remember having a youngster ask me during a movie, “What is that thing?” It was a phone booth. “What does a phone booth do?” I was tempted to say that it’s a lot like a cell phone case – before phones went with us.

Also, on my cell phone are saved voicemails from special moments. One of them is from one of my grandsons. He was about 7, and was all excited to call me from an old fashioned telephone booth on an old fashioned phone. It was quite a time warp for him. At the end of the conversation his mother said, “Okay, you can hang up now.” At that point, I heard him say, “Hang up? How do I hang up?”

There’s also a short video I’ve seen of a pair of parents administering a fun test to two teen-aged boys. They plugged in a desk top, rotary phone and gave the boys four minutes to make a call. Between the two teens, they couldn’t figure it out, even after they were given several clues.

It was very cute, but I shouldn’t have laughed because everything is relative. In their faces was the same look I had the first time I saw a spit-jack. Uh-huh … a spit-jack, but don’t dare spit at it.