When I was a little girl, my grandpa told me about the phone of the future; he had seen it at the World’s Fair. With this new phone, he explained to me, the speakers would be able to actually see one another. Fascinated, I used to wonder about this strange and yet amazing contraption, worried what would happen if someone called when you just happened to be naked.
I got an i-phone about a year ago. The only reason I got it was because, according to our office’s communication plan, upgrading me to an i-phone was cheaper than the monthly payments we were making for my dinosaur mobile. Yea, I will admit that I do love my i-phone. Initially I was just happy that I could finally do “the finger swish” just like all those daily commuters on the tram buried in their phones. Over time I got the hang of built-in “aps” and even added a few of my own: Facebook, Skype, a couple of newspapers and some games – digital adaptations of my childhood favorites. I read and reread Winnie the Pooh (which actually comes with the phone), because I couldn’t figure out how to download books and couldn’t be bothered to ask for help. Tramtracker I found to be quite handy as well as the inbuilt weather report with the hour by hour updates. I was delighted to have 24/7 access to my emails, although I was soon to discover that they didn’t seem to come any more frequently than when I checked on my laptop at the office or at home. When my son downloaded “Angry Birds” I was ecstatic. I was so proud that I actually knew what people were talking about, and sometimes I would even pump up the volume (ok, just a bit) to let other people know I was a member of the “in” group.
Here I was holding the phone of the future my grandpa had told me about so many years ago. And yet, for me it was still just a phone + a little bit more. Even if rationally speaking I knew what it had to offer, my baby-boomer mindset could not grasp its true potential to upgrade my way of life.
Here are just a few examples to demonstrate that, perhaps, there is some truth to the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
For me a camera is something you take on holidays or to family celebrations for those special “Kodak moments”. Even though I have gotten used to the idea of digital albums rather than a dusty shoe box filled with yellowing photos, I have to chuckle when time and again my kids and grandkids urge me, “Ima/Savta – just use your phone!”
One day in one of the shops in town I discovered a collection of miniature animals just perfect for my granddaughter. The problem was I couldn’t decide which to choose. Later that day when I told her about them ready to describe the different animals, she said to me, “Savta, why didn’t you just take a picture?” She was eight at the time.
Once, while strolling about the market with my daughter, I saw a hat I fancied. The problem was that there was no mirror to check it out. Even though my daughter reassured me that hat was “cool” and I didn’t look like an alien, I wasn’t convinced. Before I knew it, out came the camera and “snap”! “There!” my daughter said, showing me the photo she had taken of me and my hat. Now, why didn’t I think of that?
And there was the time I had to send my son an urgent document. I was anxious, because I didn’t have immediate access to a scanner, a printer or a fax. “Ima,” he said, “just use your phone; take a picture of the document and email it to me!” He is so smart my son, but why didn’t I think of that?
Working with Gen Y’s is another constant reminder how times have changed. One day in the course of conversation I was telling Jack and Jill, my co-workers, about a poem I studied in high school. “I have a copy of it at home; I’ll bring it in tomorrow,” I told them. “No need,” Jill responded, “I got it.” As I was speaking, she had googled it on her phone. On another occasion I walked into the office and found Jack sprawled out on the floor – engrossed in a YouTube on his phone. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Making a box,” he answered, “I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, so I looked it up on YouTube, see – a step-by-step video clip.”
Food plays a major role in our office, particularly since Jack and Jill love to cook. To our last Harmony Day luncheon Jack brought the best Pavlova I have ever tasted. “Yummy! The meringue is perfect!” we all complimented. “Actually,” Jack explained modestly, “the credit goes to my mom; she walked me through it until I got the egg whites right.”
“Well, if she’s here for a visit, why didn’t she join us!” I was quick to extend the invitation knowing that Jack’s mom lives on the other side of Australia.
Jack laughed, “I had her on Skype and she watched me beat the eggs until they were done. I also held my phone up close to the oven so she could take a peek at the meringue when it was done!” Now, why didn’t I think of that??
I recently had an appointment across town. The woman I was meeting gave me precise directions how to get to her office from the train station. The problem was, that when I exited the train station I couldn’t recognize any of the landmarks she had related to. “No big deal,” I assured myself. “I will just ask someone.” But, there was no one around. “Okay … okay … no panic. Think a moment. What would Jack and Jill do?” Aha! My phone! My GPS! I was so proud of myself. Yea, I started off in the wrong direction, but in the end I followed the little arrow on the screen and got to my destination. Proud! Proud! Proud!
If this is where my story ended, the message would probably be that life is so much easier once you tune into technology and yea, it’s worth the effort.
But, there is more.
A while ago Jack, Jill and I were doing a brainstorming exercise. Our challenge was to come up with a list of things you can do to recycle plastic bags. As I sat scratching my head, ready to type out my list, Jack and Jill were googling on their ipads. Within minutes they came up with a number of recycled ideas. I was dumbfounded at the difference in how we went about the brainstorming task.
“How would you do it?” they questioned.
“Well,” I began, “I would first try to come up with some ideas of my own!”
“Duh? Show us!”
So, I did. For the next hour or so we sat there and filled the whiteboard with 98 different plastic bag recycling ideas. At first, the ideas were slow coming, but once they got the hang of it, Jack and Jill were bursting with ideas, which were becoming more and more original and more and more creative.
“That was fun!” Jill announced at the end of the exercise.
“Heaps!” Jack added.
“We never would have thought of going about it that way!” they both admitted, “When you grow up with all the information in the world in the palm of your hands, googling becomes so instinctive, you kinda forget that you have a brain … 🙂