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Beacon Senior News

Turning to tech...slowly

Apr 01, 2022 02:19PM ● By Bill Levine

While out with our friends in their new SUV, the question of whether we four seniors would ever own anything other than an eco-unfriendly, gas-powered vehicle was entertained. Both of us couples agreed that we would be pure miles-per-gallon drivers until our keys were turned in—no switching to hybrids or electric for us. 

This admission was fine with my wife and me, as we have always been rearguard rather than avant-garde.

I realized we would not be trendsetters early on when we attended a New Year's Eve party in the early 1980s, where the hosts screened a movie on the TV using a thing called a Betamax. We appreciated the luxury of watching a fairly recent movie on TV instead of a “classic” on The Movie Loft, but it was far from our regular peak cinematic experiences in a movie theater, popcorn debris notwithstanding.

When VCRs became a fixture in homes circa 1984, we bought one, but continued going regularly to our local movie theaters. We did, however, sign up for cable right away but it didn't arrive in our town until 1990, so we were still solidly rearguard cable-wise.

Also in the early 1980s, we relented and added air-conditioning to our driving experience. On our way to visit my wife's Philly relatives from our August vacation base of Atlantic City, we got stuck on the Tacony-Palmyra bridge on a hot day. Rolling down the windows on our 1976 Pinto didn't invite in enough cooling air. We weren't on a bridge over a troubled marriage, but with each interminable minute on the bridge, my wife clamored for A/C in our next car, to which I agreed. After all, more than half of all cars had A/C by 1969. 

Around 1990, some friends gave us a used Apple computer. By this time, personal computers where fairly common in college-educated households like ours. We initially made an effort to use our Apple. We even took a course! It was an intriguing machine, but honestly, we didn't really get it.

Our Apple PC was relegated to unused junk, and we were computerless until 1995. By this time, we were finally ready to be part of the home computer generation. We purchased a HP Pavilion and signed up for AOL. Being an information junkie, I really appreciated getting information at the speed of light via the internet versus my old reference books.

Even though we have gone from Windows 95 to Windows 10, my wife and I balk at the recent trend to invite robots into our house. We do not have a Roomba or an Alexa. We had one, given to us by our millennial son, but he mentioned that his roommate, a Microsoft IT guy, said that Alexa may possibly be spying on us. My wife uses Siri sometimes, but I tough it out by looking things up myself.

Even though I am a rearguard regular on adapting the quotidian improvements of technology, I am awed by the other-worldly possibility of a human on Mars within the next 20 years. Though iffy, living to see a real life Martian would be a great bookend for my life after witnessing at age 18 the transcendent moment of Apollo 11's touchdown on the moon in 1969.

Indeed, witnessing the “giant step for mankind” moment of a Martian landing will be a lifetime highlight, even if I am stuck watching it flanked by new-fangled senior-citizen robot friends.