Friday, March 17, 2017
Techie and technophobe: a Marxian dialectic
At one point, I made a paltry living off computers. I was a reseller of IBM mainframes and peripherals, and I also built desktop computers from components.
When I moved into what became my last job, I was still endowed with that techie glow. People would come to me for advice on computers, and frequently asked me the fix whatever problems they were having. I even wrote a scheduling package to assign new students a classroom schedule based on class sizes.
Years went by, and I was able to allow that skill set to elapse into obsolescence. Then more years went by; and in time I, too, became obsolescent. So I retired.
I owned a telephone, and I owned a desktop computer, and I had no interest in staying current on the latest digital trends. If my phone broke, I went to the nearest Big Box store, and bought a replacement for $14.00. When my desktop computer broke, I replaced it with a laptop computer; when that broke, I went to the pawnshop and picked out the best candidate that I could get for $200.
And that system has worked pretty well for me for the last 10 years. I was happily settling into my role as a technophobe.
Then, a few years ago, my firstborn son bought me a tablet. I discovered it was an excellent backup device for reading and watching movies on netflix and Amazon. It disturbed me, a bit, to find these digital things useful, but I'd just murmured something about the kids on my lawn, and let it go at that.
Then my phone broke again. This was serious! I wasn't receiving text messages! And that's how I know when I am supposed to baby-sit for my grandchildren! O, woe is me!
I went to the AT&T store. And when I left, hours later, I had a new phone plan, a new internet plan, Direct TV, an iphone, an ipad, and a somewhat stunned look on my face.
She looked so innocent!
I never could be sure that I was pronouncing her name correctly. It might have been spelled 'Inayah' but I'm pretty sure there was another syllable or two in there. She stood about three feet tall, weighed maybe fifty pounds, and had huge brown eyes, and a delightful smile she bestowed on me when I made a good choice.
Actally, she looked like one of Alicia Ann's fifth grade classmates who was substituting at work for her mother.
She understood, much more quickly than the store manager did, that I wasn't interested in TV in the slightest. However, it came bundled with the super-speed internet, so okay. I took it. She was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an un-intelligent young lady. Just...a bit naive.
For example, she took me over to one of the phone displays and told me that she regarded this phone as the most masculine looking phone. She tells me, in this sweet, little girl voice, that she thought this phone would go well with the most manly of men.
I looked at her, bemused. I am, after all, the redneck biker. I pulled into the parking lot, driving a huge truck, and strolled into the store wearing my leather biker cap, pony tail, sunglasses, big bushy beard, leather jacket, AND OVERALLS, and she thinks I need a fashion item to help me feel more masculine. I told her I could carry a Hello Kitty phone, and it wouldn't bother me.
And from thereafter, it was all about what SHE wanted ME to have. She has an iphone, and likes it, so she sold me one of those. She has an i-pad, and this one had a special promotional price of $49, so she sold me that, too. She said the pelican case was the best protection for my iphone, so she sold me that. She sold me the unlimited text, data, and voice plan, the high speed internet, the Direct TV, and I STILL came out of the store paying $170 per month less than what I have been paying.
Of course, that night my firstborn son and I balanced baby-sitting for his two boys, with him setting up my iphone and ipad so I could have them linked and other things. It was still fun, even if it did take several hours.
And that's how I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Information Age.