Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I had to go down to the fourth entry in the dictionary before I got to the definition I wanted. 

Trog-lo-dyte – 4. An extremely old-fashioned or conservative person; a reactionary.

Having made that researchical effort, I will now insist, hopefully persuasively, that “troglodyte” is not what I am.

I can imagine the term “troglodyte” being applied to people who do not believe in evolution, but I do, so, in that context at least, that is demonstrably not me. 

Descended from monkeys?  Fine with me.  I mean, it's not like they're coming to the Seder!

In recent times, however, the word “troglodyte” has enjoyed a renewed currency as a pejorative against people who are deficient in their technological abilities and refuse to make any effort to improve them.

That is me. 

I have only during this past year learned to use the clothes dryer (our housekeeper was vacationing in El Salvador and I had run out of underwear), though (since she’s been back for months and I have been relieved of this responsibility), I have now forgotten how, and when the necessity arises, I will need to be retrained.

Do I refuse to make any effort to improve my high-tech skills? 

I would have to admit that I do.

But not because I am ideologically opposed to new technology – who would be against “faster and easier”?  (With the exception of the electric razor, which continues to suck.)

I refuse to try to improve my high-tech skills, because, at this point, I am so far behind, I see no way in hell of ever catching up.  So I simply throw in the towel, and I permanently opt out.

This decision is hardly without consequence.  The “Embarrassment Factor” is substantial.  A friend who works for the FX Network sends me DVD’s of the Louie show, because she thinks I’ll enjoy them.  And I probably would.  If I were conversant with the method of switching my TV to the “input” you have to switch it to so it stops showing television shows and transmits DVD material instead, and I’m not.

I have not watched any of the Louie DVD’s my friend sent me, though when she asks if I have, I reply with an enthusiastic  “Yes!”, adding, “And I enjoyed them very much.”

My retro-techno situation is hardly a source of pride.  I feel like an adult illiterate, who, when asked to look over a document before signing it, confides weakly, almost secretively,

“Ah caint read.”  (I wish there was a button for “the opposite of italics”, reflecting a softer than normal volume of communication.  Control S – for Shame.)

It’s an unfortunate predicament, becoming increasingly more so with every upgrade and new invention.  But what can I do?

Imagine a First Grader who, say, was in a serious car accident, and, months later, when they finally recover, they return to school, only to find that their classmates are confidently printing and understanding entire words, while they – having been absent when they were taught – have not yet learned the alphabet. 

That’s exactly how it feels to me, minus the car accident.  It is virtually impossible to catch up.  Some of us don’t even try. 

I got technologically frozen somewhere around the transistor radio.  After that, it’s not that I fell behind; it’s that more techno-stuff kept coming, and I remained in one place.    

Now, I stand permanently in the future’s dust.  As the i-Phone 5 comes on the market, I am still using my “flip-phone” – all of whose “apps”, besides calling and listening, I have no idea how to use. 

The monthly bill for my “flip-phone” is eighteen dollars and forty-eight cents.  You probably find that low.  I find it excessively high. 

I would estimate, ninety-seven percent of the time, my “flip-phone” sits plugged in on a table in our front hallway.  Sometimes there’s a message on the little screen, which, through trial and error, I have determined is telling me to stop leaving it plugged in.  And, for God’s sake, use it!    

To me, paying more than two hundred dollars a year for a phone that just sits on a table seems like an enormous waste of money.  I’ve been told that my plan includes twenty-five minutes of phone usage.  Last month, I apparently only used two. 

Eighteen dollars for two-minutes.  It’s like I called “Long Distance” to Reykjavik.

I only have a “flip-phone”, because, in our interconnected era, you are required to have something.  There are occasions, when I am instructed to take my phone along when I leave the house.  That right there explains my two two-minute-per-month phone-usage record.  I almost never leave the house. 

The following is a “Techno-Tally”, representing a partial list of things I, either partially or entirely, do not know how to work (and a couple I do.)  Not all of them are computerized, though, actually, in fact, they may be.  What do I know?

Okay, here we go:

Any device whose name starts with a lower-case “i”? – Can’t use it.

My flip-phone – for calling and receiving calls only.  I get notice of a “Missed Call.”  It stays “missed” forever.

Desktop Computer – I can do “Word”, I can copy the document to my blog, and I can “embed” from Youtube, though not always on the first try.  I may be able to “link”, I’m not sure.  But that’s it.  And I know that desktops can do a lot more than that.

Laptops – Yes, but sometimes, I do something, and it all disappears.  This is frustrating.  You spend three hours writing something, and suddenly, it’s gone and you have no idea how to get it back.  That never happened with a legal pad and a pen!

I know that phones and computers have thousands of “apps”, and I know what “apps” are; they’re applications.  I just don’t know how to get to them.  I would probably enjoy some of those “apps.”  But they are beyond my reach, hiding in the machinery.

I have never texted.  Flip-phones don’t text.  And even if they did, there’s the inevitable issue of finger dexterity.

Fax Machine – pretty much, yes, except I can never recall if the document goes “Face up” or “Face down.”  If I do it wrong, the fax-ee gets blank paper.

TV – Sure.  But don’t ask me to switch the “inputs.”

Land line – I cannot consistently use the “Intercom.”  And sometimes I put someone on “Hold”, and it goes to “Dial-Tone.”

Washer and dryer – I used to know.  Maybe I could know again.

Digital Clock – I dread the semi-annual time changes.  Exception:  On my DVD-clock-radio, there’s a button for that.  I know how to push it.

Stove – Yes.

Microwave – Theoretically, yes.  But no matter how long it’s in there, the food invariably comes out unevenly warmed, except for the microwavable dish, which burns my fingers.

Cuisinart – Please.

Dishwasher – No. 

Coffee Maker – Bean grinding – no; making it from ground coffee – no.

Waffle Iron – Sometimes.

Switching on our hot tub – fifty-fifty.

Electric can opener – No.

My car – Yes, unless it stops working. 

A category I will lump together as “Audio Equipment” – No.

Karaoke Machine – Yes. 

A partial list.  I suppose there’s a class I could take at some community college to upgrade my techno-savvy.  Have You Been Cryogenically Frozen, Or Something? 101. But it would have to be nearby.  My ’92 Lexus has no GPS.  Dr. M’s Prius does. 

But I have no idea how it works.

1 comment:

Anne Onex said...

Soooo, on the troglodyte issue, that's a YES?