Back in the day, when I was young and somewhat up on the latest electronic trends, my mother asked me to help her sisters, my aunts, learn how to work the new fangled VCRs which had just arrived on the market. In case you don’t remember this, the instructions that came with them could be rather confusing. So my aunts all got VCRs that just sat there, as did my mother’s. But one day while on a visit to the family home, my mother asked me to help her with it. I took the instructions and rewrote them in very simple, plain English. She loved it. Eventually, I went to the home of each aunt and did the same thing. I was a friggin’ hero. The machine was now their friend and they could go shopping whenever they wanted because it was taping their soaps. And yes, I said taping; that’s what it was back in the day – an actual box with a tape in it that you used and reused until it fell apart. The only repair kit you needed was a pencil.
I remember the feeling of condescension as I showed off my superior knowledge of the latest in electronics. They were so yesterday. I was today. I felt sorry for them. They were totally left out of the revolution that was happening and would ultimately result in my being able to speak into a tiny remote control and turn my tv off.
The problems began when I decided to start using a streaming app for my tv instead of cable. Suddenly, I felt older than my aunts had been before me. It took this stupid little streaming box and the tiniest remote control ever created to bring me face to face with the fact that I had become my aunts. The current electronics revolution has happened too quickly for me to catch up. One day I’m programming a VCR and the next day someone is telling me I can turn my tv on with my voice. I got lost somewhere between Siri and Alexa.
I don’t have an Alexa in my house because it scares me. Seems like some all knowing figure that simply should not know that much about me. And I still don’t feel that turning off the lights by physically flipping a switch is too much effort.
I have spent two weeks with my new tv service and my tiny remote. It has been quite a journey. I spent a week able to turn off the tv with the remote but unable to turn it on with that device. I accidentally hit the right button one day and can now do it all from that teeny, tiny – OMG, could they have made the remote more difficult? Did someone actually think this was a good design? Not everyone is 20 and with good, responsive fingers. For the rest of us, holding that little thing and not hitting the wrong button is a triumph. And this is why after two weeks of hitting the wrong buttons, I have finally figured the right ones out.
I want to imagine that getting old used to be easier. But I imagine even Eve complained about how often her kids came to visit. I think each generation thinks the last one had it much easier. But the world has always moved forward at the same pace and we have always had to adjust to new and different products and ideas. In my nonna’s day, women went from pantaloons to panties. In my day, we went from I Love Lucy to Bridgerton.
When I nursed back in the 60s and early 70s, aside from an iv, maybe a heart monitor and a bedpan, there was no equipment in the patient’s room. Now, walk into a hospital room and it feels like walking into a scene from Start Trek. There is hardly room for the patient. Machines now automatically do what I was so painstakingly trained to do for a patient. It all bewilders me. As it should. Because the world no longer belongs to me and my generation, no matter how old our president is. The Boomers are dying. We are passing the torch and hoping the next generation does way, way better than we did.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll go read a book. You know, the kind with real pages. That’s my speed.