My friend Sally, 80, is a proud, tenacious and unrepentant Luddite by her own admission. She stopped her march into technology at the computer. She has a cell phone, a minimal one, only because her daughters insisted on it. She claims not to know the number. Sally never shops on line, she pays her bills by check via the USPS, and when she reads a book, it’s a book, not a Nook. She drives a ten-year-old Ford Explorer and says she hopes to heaven it lasts as long as she does because the new ones have all those electronic gadgets. She does not worry that the world is passing her by. She is happily painting wild abstracts in her studio, waving it on.
I, on the other hand, am fully outfitted with a MacBook, an iPad and a Smarter-than-I-am-Phone, and I’m thinking I need an iPod, I do a good bit of my shopping and pay my bills online. The books I read are on Kindle/iPad as are my several news sources. And I struggle with all of it. At which Sally casts a beady eye on me and asks, “Why bother?”
Well — um — good question. Certainly it’s convenient to pay bills on line and skip all that stamping, finding a mailbox business. Sally thinks it’s not safe enough and she may be right. But it’s a little late for that. The world already has access to way more about me than than anyone cares about.
I do it for the challenge, to prove that I can still learn new skills, organize tasks and adapt when it’s necessary. I now understand that the Universe gives not a feather nor a fig whether I pay my bills on line or by mail. I certainly can’t claim to be “keeping up” but I do feel a sense of a accomplishment when I manage — finally — to learn a new skill that better organizes my life.
I’m grateful that I am still connected, however tenuously, with several dozen friends and family on email and FaceBook, people that would have faded out of my life completely were it not for social media. As my physical world contracts with my diminishing mobility, my electronic social world continues to expand.
And let’s face it, I do it for the addiction. I spend way too much time wandering around my iPad, searching new websites and apps and playing Ruzzle and Words with Friends.
No doubt there are better ways to spend my time — volunteering, playing my flute — and I do those too. But Sally and I agree on one thing. Yes, the world is going on without us. Thank goodness. Bye Bye.
Coming of Age by Rosemary Rawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.