Nothing is better than communication with friends, especially when you’re 67 and you’ve lived in nine states. That’s the main reason I have a Facebook page. As any loyal reader of this space knows, my technological skills are on about the same level as my knowledge of the psychology of snails. In all honesty, before the turn of the century, both were about equal.
The worst of my 10, yes ten, back surgeries came in June, 2002. Luckily, I was referred to the Stanford Pain Management Center, three hours from our home in Fresno. I was beginning to restart my high school teaching and coaching career (which I’d left 30 years prior) and was told I had to take additional courses to update my credential. A couple of them were, naturally, computer classes. The teacher kept referring to the “hard drive.” Possibly because I had a quizzical look, he asked me if I knew what a hard drive was. Although I was fairly certain my answer was wrong, it was the only one I could offer.
“When I have to make that six-hour round trip to Stanford,” was my reply. It might have not have been correct answer but it was definitely a correct answer.
Since then, probably out of necessity because our two sons were 13 and 8 at that time, I’ve upgraded my technologically-related skills to emailing, texting, Facebook and, of course, blogging (I still maintain the best form of communication is a face-to-face conversation, a phone call coming in second – and everything else a distant third. Next up in the seemingly never-ending methods of impersonal methods of connecting people was twitter.
A friend set up a twitter account and my first (and last) tweet was informing the twitter world that another individual was invading their habitat. A couple days later, my friend told me I had over 30 followers – which was somewhat frightening because I had no idea where I was going. Even now, from time to time, I’ll receive notice that another poor soul is following me.
Two items ended my twitter career. One was when our younger son mentioned something to me and I asked him if he saw it on twitter. He said, “No, instagram.” That was it. Whoever these computer geniuses were, who were taking over the world of communication as I knew it, were inventing things faster than I could learn them. So, that was the end of my twitter career. Oh yeah, the other reason was much easier to understand. Can you imagine limiting me to 140 characters?
Answering machines for land lines were helpful but not nearly so much as personal cell phones. The advent of email and texting hurt those from my generation – at least those of us who weren’t keen on improving – by learning a new (computer) language. There’s no doubt I should have jumped in with both feet when computers were, obviously, the way of the future. But while I admit to that major error, I still miss phone calls from friends.
I have become relatively proficient in sending and receiving emails and texts – even the “junk” ones because I’ve learned to just delete them. What is alarming is the number of scams occurring online. Our neighborhood has a “Nextdoor” email – which I’ve heard is gaining popularity throughout the nation. We live in an area that was built around a man-made lake. There are about 25 subdivisions around the lake. An email was sent to people in our, and nearby, neighborhoods requesting the owners and tenants to join. It serves as a means of alerting people to what’s going on – good and bad – where we live.
People let their neighbors know of lost dogs and cats, what’s going on at he clubhouse and ask for recommendations for plumbers, roofers, housekeepers, etc. If you’ve joined, you also get more disturbing texts, e.g. strangers lurking near the local elementary schools, suspicious looking cars and people who might be casing homes and, most recently, people who steal outgoing mail left in individual mailboxes for the carrier to pick up the following day when he delivers that day’s mail. Apparently, these low lifes are trying to get bank account numbers and other personal information.
As if that isn’t the only disturbing invasion of privacy, now there are “cyber thieves” (a term I hadn’t come across until recently) who are hacking into our computers. Yesterday I got three texts from friends (who don’t know each other) almost simultaneously, with the dreaded message, “Did your email account get hacked?” Of course the answer was yes. It had happened to me in the past and I’d sent the same message to others regarding their emails. I’ve also been a victim of identity theft but, because I check most of my accounts on a daily basis, caught it immediately and experienced only minor aggravation.
Obviously, I’m old school but I still have to ask the question, “What is wrong with these people?” If they’re smart enough to figure out how to do something so nefarious, why not put that knowledge to use and do something good? Now I’m not naive enough to think everybody wants to do good. There’s that segment of the population who enjoys “getting over” on people. High level espionage is one thing. That has been going on since well before the invention of computers but many of these new jerks are only inconveniencing us. For those sorry folks I’d just like to know what the end game is. Maybe we could amuse them in some other way that satisfies their inner (nasty) self.
I imagine there have always been scammers but more and more have appeared since the computer came along. What’s sad is a feeling I get from time to time – which I fully comprehend is dangerous:
“Makes me yearn for the good ol’ days.”