Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 13, 2008

Disconnecting from the past

Technology has changed my life - again. The very first thing I have done for years when I walk in the house I no longer do. In fact, I can't do it!

I've never considered myself to be very adept when it comes to using technology. My opinion probably wasn't helped by my first husband being so good with tools and husband Art being an engineer. Jerome could and Art can do any number of things they would consider trivial, but to me seem unfathomable.

Spending time with either of our two girls doesn't provide refuge either. Many times I've witnessed older daughter Mariya pick up her laptop and press it to her cheek while stroking the bottom with her free hand. It's a gesture designed to inform anyone who is watching that the two of them get along really well.

Youngest daughter Katie is much the same. She often sighs loudly when she watches me working on my computer. Art has mentioned several times that she has shared with him how it frustrates her to observe me as I am so slow. And it isn't just computers! While half the functions of the cell phone I acquired years ago are still a mystery to me, Katie had explored every feature on her first phone within hours of its arrival - and on a day when she was sick, too!

Still, from what I've observed, I'm pretty average for my generation. I have noticed as the years have passed that I seem to be getting better. As a case in point, a short while back, Art upgraded my computer. I always cringe when he does that as I know that any number of things will work differently after he has finished. This time was no different. As soon as I had downloaded the pictures from my digital camera and set out to burn them onto a CD, I realized that the familiar icon I had double-clicked for years to start the burning software was not on my desktop. After scanning the icons that were present, but not finding any that suggested the task I wanted to complete, I telephoned Art at work.

"Oh, yeah. I forgot I changed that," he informed me. "Look for a yellow round icon that says n, t, i."

I found it and, a short time later, I had my CD and was headed off to town to have pictures printed.

Recently Art added broadband Internet access along with a wireless router. This meant I could go anywhere in the house with my laptop and connect to the Internet. I really like that.

For some time, Katie had promoted the idea that she needed a cell phone. And for almost as long, we were convinced it was a case of want and not of need. But as her out-of-home activities have multiplied, the need to keep in touch has grown steadily. That realization quickly generated another. If everyone in the family had a phone, why would we need a family phone? At one time, dial-up Internet was another justification, but now there really wasn't any reason to keep the old land-line at all. And we discovered during last winter's ice storm that our cell phones were more reliable than the land line.

However, it still didn't seem quite right. For decades, that line had brought family news, both good and bad. I knew it was just a remnant from how it used to be that was holding me back. When I call someone, I still think in terms of calling the place that person lives.

But I gave in and told Art to get the phone pulled out. I knew I would adapt.

Still, years of habit die hard. Now, when I come home, the first thing I do after climbing the steps is to look to the kitchen wall just above the phonebook drawer. Now, instead of a white phone with a bright display announcing how many messages there are, there is only a small gap in the wallpaper and two small holes. The family phone that was once our way of connecting is now disconnected.

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