July 2013
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Swimming against the technological tide

By Suzanne Strazza

“I consider turning my computer on to be work.”

“Oh, I am right there with you.”

Liar.

Totally full of shit.

I am on my computer all the time.

When email really got up and going, I refused. I believed in the soon-to-be-lost art of letter-writing. I also believed that picking up the phone was better. I thought email was a blip.

Well, obviously I was wrong and I currently thank the Powers That Be for the invention of email because it means that I don’t actually have to talk to people on the phone.

I spend my entire workday talking to people. I am constantly on the phone, sometimes enjoying myself, other times thinking I need a research job that would place me in a basement somewhere full of dusty books with no human interaction whatsoever.

When I was a child (apparently a talkative one) my father told me that when we are born, God gives us so many words for our lifetime and that one has to be careful to not use them all up too soon. I don’t really believe it but I also don’t want to press my luck. So, when I get off of work, I am reluctant to speak any more than absolutely necessary – and those few words are generally reserved for yelling at my children.

Thus, my fondness for email. I can still “talk” to my friends without using up any of those precious words, and I can give my brain a rest from listening to my own voice.

Group emails: died and gone to Heaven.

Then came Facebook. Never. Ever going to go there. To hell with you, Mark Zuckerman.

“So I saw on Facebook,” and “I was chatting with ____ on Facebook…”

WTF? ______ lives four blocks away, why don’t you get off of your lazy ass and walk over to her house, sit in the porch swing and catch up like normal people do?

Like people have been doing for a very long time.

Like, since the first human words were spoken.

Get. A. Life.

Blogs? Seriously? Facebook posts about what you had for dinner are bad enough, but pages and pages of ranting and raving about what? You?

Oh sure, that’s what I want to spend my spare time reading.

And then, during this morning’s computer time (now as necessary as my morning coffee,) “I have no Facebook messages, no emails, no new comments on my blog.”

So I quickly switched over to my secret gmail, Facebook page and blog and nothing there either.

I heard these words erupt from my mouth: “I have no life.”

I scrambled to grab my cell phone (which I also vowed to never own), certain that I would at least have a text or two.

Nada.

I was getting ready to go for a run in the gorgeous mountains, after which I would visit with one of my dearest friends, work in the garden, do some ranch chores and then have a hot date with my incredibly lovely boyfriend, but apparently without a poorly written, one-sentence message anywhere in my remote world, I’ve got nothing going on.

I scare myself.

“Looks like you don’t have anyone to chat with.”

That’s what my gmail told me when I checked my Inbox. Really? It might have just said, “Good morning, Loser – you have no friends.”

I just don’t understand how my life and my self-esteem came to be dependent on technology. I am a clinger-to-the-old-ways. I envision myself a Luddite, although that is really a stretch. I am reluctant to move with the times.

When metal tennis racquets first came out, I refused to even consider one, clinging faithfully to my woody in its screw-on wooden press, while I played on grass courts, wearing all white.

Same with plastic ski boots – there was no way that I was giving up my leather lace-ups. Only people who couldn’t really make a teleturn used plastic – used it like a crutch. I am a traditionalist who won’t embrace what is new just out of convenience or wanting to be a part of the “latest.”

The same happened with the Computer Movement; No, no and no again. Not going there.

And then I did. But my refusal to email, Facebook and text was resolute. I even went so far as to ridicule those who drank the Kool-Aid and become hooked on the newest forms of communication.

I self-righteously reminded people that what they were doing was not “communicating.”

And now, walk into my house and you will find: a metal racquet, not one but two pairs of plastic boots, two computers, and three cell phones.

Two of the phones belong to my children whom I text frequently, sometimes from my room upstairs.

And yet, I am full of shame at having embraced this world of technology. For some reason, for fear of being judged by anyone, anywhere, ever, I apologize for my dabbling in the modern world.

“I only have a cell phone because my kids need to be able to reach me at any time…”

“They only have phones so that I can find them whenever I need to…”

Yeah, that’s a load – the beauty of cell phones for teenagers is that mom can call them and when they answer, they can fully lie about their whereabouts and mom will never know.

“I only use Facebook to post my blog…”

What’s the difference, Suz – you have a BLOG?!

I can’t accept that I have joined the masses; won’t admit that I actually live to scroll through my news feed – that it has become a significant piece of my morning ritual.

I get total FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when I am at work and can’t be on FB and I know that people are posting oh-so-important things like what they had for lunch and funny high school pictures.

I do still pride myself on not Tweeting (Twitting?). I have no idea what Pinterest is. And I have not become dependent on texting – although that is mainly because my eyes are shot and I can’t see the keypad. So I believe, because I haven’t jumped into this technological world whole-heartedly, that I am superior in some way.

And we know it’s only a matter of time.

I’ve got to do something, anything, to avoid ever being told again that I have no one with whom to chat.

Suzanne Strazza is an award-winning writer in Mancos, Colo. See her blog at www.singleinthesouthwest.com.


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