My Technological Devolution

I read a scientific study during the weekend which studied the question “Will today’s children be stumped by the technology of the future?” and it caused me to raise a lot of questions about myself.

According to the article, people in their fifties today tend to struggle with the adaptation of current technology and how to use it.  Yet these same people witnessed some amazing technological breakthroughs:  Space travel, Television, Medical breakthroughs, energy breakthroughs etc.  So the current middle aged generation has grown up with a fast changing world, yet I know a few who barely understand how to use their iPad.

When my niece was four years old, my Sister took her to visit our parents and somehow, she got hold of my Father’s iPhone.  Within minutes, she’d figured out how to take pictures, zoom in and out by pinching the screen (Something even my Father didn’t know about, incredibly) and was downloading and installing apps at random.  Considering my Sister didn’t own a smart phone at the time (This was some years ago), the only explanation for this behavior is the inquisitive nature of children and their seeming ability to inherently discover features of technology.

What I’ve noticed about myself in the last year or two, is that when it comes to technology, I seem to heading in the direction of my Father.  It’s a very slow process which I’m doing my best to avoid, however every few months, I realize that there is something that I don’t know how to do on my phone or laptop which I really should.  It causes me great personal embarrassment since I’m a self-declared technology geek and I’m passionate about tech.

Remember the nineties?  In my opinion, it was the best decade of mankind’s history.  The music was the best (I still enjoy nineties music over the repetitive electronic stuff I hear today), the world was at one of its most peaceful times in its history and Technology was hitting new heights every day.  Between 1990 and 2000, the speed of computers increased by more than fifty times.  Nobody could keep up – consumers, manufacturers, software developers and games developers found that their newest product was out of date within a few months.

I remember that I owned seven different cell phones between 1996 and 2000.  I also owned three different game consoles and seemed to be upgrading my desktop computer at least three times a year.  Despite the cost, I enjoyed having the newest thing.  Technology was in full throttle evolution mode and I was riding that wave like a pro surfer – teaching my friends and family how to use it along the way.  I still remember my Father’s words to me after he received my phone bill the month after I discovered the wonder that is SMS: “Why would you send someone a message when it’s actually cheaper to call them with the same message?”

Ironically, my Father rarely calls me now… He favors Facebook or Whatsapp and, if he has an hour or two to spare, a three paragraph email.  About ten years ago, I spent two hours on the phone to him trying to give him step by step instructions on how to configure his Wi-Fi.  When I recently told him I’d purchased a new router for my house, he excitedly asked what level of encryption I was using and if I’d set up my Xbox on a DMZ or not.  It was shocking.

So recently I’ve been examining my own life in Technology.  I work for ETTE, so I can state with absolute confidence that I know a lot about technology and how to use it – Much more than most of my friends.  However, I’m not that “Must have the newest thing” guy anymore.  My personal phone is a Galaxy S4 which, though well cared for, is beginning to show its age.  And there has been a couple of instances recently where my phone did something bizarre which I couldn’t troubleshoot.  Having spent most of my life as “That guy who can fix anything Technology related”, this is new territory for me and I cannot understand if this is because I’m no longer riding the Technology wave (Due to “adult responsibilities”) or if my age is simply becoming a barrier.  Maybe I’m not as adaptive to new things as I used to be.

And since I’m only in my thirties, this causes me to question what I will be like in my fifties.  I’ve yet to discover the answer to my dilemma – whether it’s just the rush and chaos of life passing me by which is causing me to fall behind Technology in the evolutionary race; or whether we simply slow down as we get older.  Of course, none of us can accurately predict what will happen to us by the time 2050 comes around, nobody has ever seen our planet advance as fast as its current speed.

Perhaps when we’re in our fifties, we will be technological geniuses writing and customizing our own software to control our modern houses and cars.  Or perhaps we’ll be asking four-year-olds to explain why our phones can’t make calls…

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