Never been old: technology can sometimes be challenging

by Kathryn Mora

My fantasy is to live past 100 and always be young. Fly high and embrace the unknown with oodles of years to ride the wave of technical inventions and feel the excitement of new creations. Technology can sometimes be challenging to learn and I could choose to be old and never learn anything new. However, I’d have to research being old at the library or better yet on the internet because I have no experience being old. For me it’s more thrilling and exhilarating to open my mind to technology’s new inventions, and I’ll learn as I go. Let’s start with the evolution of the telephone.

When I was four, I saw my first telephone sitting on the little round wooden table in our living room next to the couch. It was big, heavy, black and shiny with a curly cable attached to the part my parents listened and talked through. A straight cable came from the back and connected to the wall. The front of the phone had small circles with numbers and letters. My mother put her finger on the circles and dialed until she connected with her friend. I never talked on that telephone because it was too heavy for me to pick up. Still, I thought it was magical for a person to talk to someone far, far away.

I had no idea that a telephone would change from a big, heavy, black, shiny and clunky thing to one with push buttons, then to a small lightweight gadget called a cellphone, which I could hold in my hand and later to one on the screen of which I could see the person I was talking to!

When my brother and I were teenagers, he told me about a science fiction story written in 1889 by Jules Vern about people living in 2889 and talked on videophones. It sounded exciting, but how could something like that ever happen? I liked real things better than make believe. In my early 20s, I remember seeing the Jetsons speaking to their friends via videophone. It was too far out to ever come true.

Besides, the idea of a person seeing me while we talk on a videophone made me uncomfortable. What if I was only wearing underwear or no clothes at all? Worse yet, what if my hair was messy and I had no makeup on? Jane Jetson put on her pretty face and hair mask before talking to her friend on a videophone and Jane’s friend wore a pretty face and hair mask, too. I totally understood!

Video conferencing actually became a reality in 2005, years before science fiction predicted. Now, I have video calls on my mobile phone and computer. I never thought something make believe would ever be real.

Even before video chats started for me, the cellphone changed my life. My sons, Scott and John, would tell me, “Mom, get a cellphone.” I thought they were adventurous to own a cellphone, but it wasn’t right for me. I didn’t think cellphones were real. How could something so small work as well as a landline telephone connected to the wall with a cable?

In 2002, not long after, I bought a cellphone. I admit, I loved the freedom of not being tethered to my landline telephone even with its 25-foot cable. It was glorious to talk on my cellphone outside as I walked to the park and shopping in the market. But I still kept my real phone. That was before I learned cellphones are computers and more powerful than landline telephones.

I still have lots to learn on my new cellphone, but every day I learn more. I love texting, even though I’m not as fast as people who use their thumbs. Tried the thumb method, but it didn’t work for me. I use the forefinger technique. Slow, but faster than snail mail. Guess who no longer owns a landline telephone? Cellphones are real!

Before a Zoom conversation or video chat, I take some time to look my best. When I talk to my amazing three-year-old granddaughter, Graciela, sometimes I wear a candy apple red blouse and a flowered skirt, big earrings, and a fun hairdo, apply my favorite charcoal eyeliner and new luscious red pomegranate lipstick. Sometimes I wear my big brim red hat, too. I want my granddaughter to enjoy her young grandma Kitty.

It’s time for my video chat with my granddaughter. I love hanging out with Graciela and hearing what’s on her mind, throwing kisses to her and watching how she climbs a tree, while her parents hold the cellphone.

I never thought I’d enjoy such high-level technology in my life. Periodically, I check my email for the official “You are old now” notice and it’s never there.


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