Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tweets, Texts, Pokes and Avatars

To give you an idea of my age, I started out with 78 rpm records, then switched to albums. My husband and I were the first of our friends to install an 8-track player in our car.  Eight-tracks were replaced by cassettes, cassettes were replaced by cds. Buying pre-programmed cds was replaced with burning your own. I kept up with all of the musical technology although I was a little late catching on to Napster and ITunes.

If advances in music have been rapid, the changes in communication have been mind-boggling. Again, my age is telling. My first phone was a party line (2 short rings, 1 long). I was thrilled when Ma Bell honored me with a private line, just as I was excited about my first electric typewriter and then even more ecstatic when they started to come with correcting tape as a standard feature.

My syndicate sent me my first personal computer, a Leading Edge, which was an IBM clone. I could send my columns via cyberspace - at 1200 baud! The operating system was MSDOS, totally incomprehensible to anyone but a computer wizard. I struggled to learn to compose on a computer screen rather than on paper. About that same time, faxing became the quickest way to transfer documents from one location to another.

Those upgrades all came at a rather reasonable pace. You had time to digest one before they hit you with the next. Then came the flood.

Cell phones and satellite and cable television and Windows and high speed internet connections. The first cell phones were heavy. They came in a bag. All you could do was call and receive calls. They cost you both ways so that people were wary about giving out their cell phone numbers. "Don't tell anyone else," they'd warn you.

By now, I was starting to feel like a swimmer treading the technological water. The faster I paddled, the farther I drifted from shore.

I resisted getting my first cell phone and by the time I finally gave in and bought one, it was already obsolete. My co-workers had moved on to the more advanced models. They could take pictures and get weather reports and read e-mail on their phones, while all I could do was make calls.

I'm on my fifth generation phone but I'm still bringing up the rear. My phone doesn't have a touch screen; it doesn't do apps that let me draw or go to sleep to the sound of ocean waves.

I've never texted. I don't know how and I don't want to know. I've advised friends and clients alike that I delete any texts I receive without reading. I could have won the Clearinghouse Sweepstakes but if they notified me by text, the boat sailed without me.

Eventually, I broke down and joined Facebook. That's what you have to do now to stay in touch with friends. They don't e-mail individuals anymore or even forward. They post news and information and pictures and game scores and music videos and send hugs and kisses and flowers by way of Facebook. Sometimes, they poke one another though I've never understood what poking is all about. They advertise their businesses and support their causes. If you're not an FBer, you will be left in a communication wasteland.

I plinked around forever trying to upload (download?) a picture of myself  on Facebook but now I don't remember how I did it. Hipper people than me have Avatars. I'm not exactly sure what an Avatar is but I think I'd like to have one. I gather it represents the kind of person you believe yourself to be. I'd like to see myself as someone who'd be symbolized by a wolf but a guinea pig would probably be closer to the truth.

Then came Twitter which I determined to resist. You see the pattern here? I've choked down with about all the technological marvels I can stomach but finally, if you want to be part of the in crowd, you're forced to give in, knowing you're facing another huge learning curve if you're old and distinctly un-geeky like me.

Lots of NASCAR drivers and reporters Tweet and many of their Tweets are funny and/or informative. That was the allure of Twitter for me. So, I created a Twitter account (@vdeputy) and then, I didn't have a clue what to do next. Where do Tweets appear? I now understand that it can be on my computer, my phone, or both but how do you make that happen and do I care enough to find out? Do you have to text to tweet? I expect you probably do.

Since I started my Twitter account, two people have signed up to be my followers. I think I'm going to be a disappointment to them.  Meanwhile, I signed up to follow Danica Patrick.....somehow.

I can hop on the internet with my latest Sprint phone. And I learned how to take pictures on it though not how to download them onto my computer. I probably made a mistake simply throwing all the various connecting cables that came with various products in one big box. I never get rid of the cables when I replace the things they attach to so there are about a hundred of them and I don't know which one goes with the camera and which one goes with the phone.....

I feel like I'm getting lost in progress. I need a Tech Tutor to bring me up to speed....or maybe I should just quit paddling.