The birth of smart ignorance…

"We keep Frank around, because if there's a power failure he's the only one who can do anything."

So the other day in the great state of California, in the heart of  Silicon Valley there was a power outage. To most born in the nineties, eighties, seventies, sixties, fifties and before, it was just that- a power outage but to the next generation, the super smart, gadget aware, gizmo happy,  tech savvy, it was close to a catastrophe. The things heard by my friends and me as uttered by our kids who are students of some of the most renowned colleges and over achieving schools were….(Hold your hand below your chin lest your jaw falls off!)

 1. Alexa is not talking! Why is Alexa not talking?  How will I know what time it is? Seriously?

2. Mother, there is no power! Will there be water?  God help me!

3. Mom, Will the toilet flush?   Oh God, where do I hide!

4. Will the internet work? OMG will the internet work?  Breathe in, breathe out…

5. I can still make calls right?    I am going away. I will run to the nearest mountain.  I will become a hermit. I will… I will…

6. And then phone rings, “I heard no power, so no service today.” That was the cleaning agency which shows up once a fortnight. Before I pulled the remaining hair on my head I thought, hey, I could have told them that cleaning was NOT limited to vacuuming! Yeah, right, I am so going to that mountain.

Does that sound remotely familiar? It seems as technology invades all aspects of our lives, common sense makes a quiet exit. How I want to hold on to that remaining quantum of solace but it does seem elusive. I have the highest respect for technology and the ease it introduces into our lives but it does come at a cost. It adds complexity to simplicity which is no more the norm. And the blossoming adult has no inkling about the joys and ease of simplicity. Welcome to the times where  babies learns to click and swipe before walk and talk!

I recall buying planners or making planners as a student but when I accompanied my child headed back to college to buy planner I was taken aback by the confusion the ‘once upon a time simple planner’ could create. There were planners by size, shape, color, specific purpose (teacher planner, party planner, mom planner, student planner just to name a few). Then there were sticker books that complement the planners consisting of thousands of stickers saying things like to-do, today’s agenda, main focus, submissions, deadline, sleep time, zzzzz (just in case someone does not understand ‘sleep time)’ and so on and so forth.  While I do understand that planners need to be complex in the multi faceted, multi objective achieving lives that one leads but surely there might be a simpler way. Or possibly not.

When I talk to my mother in law living in India and get the kids to talk to her they stare at the phone and say, but I can’t see her! Will video calls replace audio calls? Texts too are more  prevalent than phone calls. My phone would make constant sounds ding ding ding ding because my kid at college instead of resorting to speed dial prefers to use two thumbs for narrations. Why oh Why! Over the weekend driving to the beach the husband started driving following the car GPS direction while I suggested the direction given by my phone’s google map showing a faster route and the kids from behind quipped in with a route given by waze to outsmart traffic together. Am I crazy that I miss poring over an oversized map while contemplating routes!

Alexa or Google home tell us the date, time, weather, traffic as the morning beverage brews. They manage our calendar, set reminders, play music, guide us through a recipe without us pressing any key or button. Another evening planning on dinner out with friends and family, out came the kid’s smart phones with each looking up reviews of restaurants with menu recommendations. The kids can’t dine out without looking up yelp reviews, plan trips without consulting trip advisor, buy a lipstick or any make up products at that, without going through trusted online survey of opinions and feedback, so much so that buying stationery is comparable to rocket science.

When we moved to the Bay Area five years back I was delighted to find carol singing was popular and groups were going door to door to spread joy and cheer. Last year in addition to the guitar and ukulele the new accompanying orchestra was on the smartphone.

'I am not giving money for carol ring tones!'

I dread the day when the picture above becomes a reality.

Yeah yeah, welcome to the Silicon Valley where simple power outage is catastrophic.  For someone with teens or tweens like me, how ‘dependent’ are your children on the gizmos/gadgets around them? What changes do you perceive in your children or as a new adult around you? Um apart from a perpetual bent neck….

Picture courtesy: http://www.cartoonstock.com

The Joys and Woes of Technology…

“Why lah! Why did you ask me to bring the server down lah?”  Said the banker to the software engineer as he struggled into the support hub carrying a server in his arms. Uh ho hmmm. A friendly pat on the back with a laughing reply of- “I didn’t want you to literally bring down the server lah!” confused the banker further. It surely does not mean that the banker was not smart or that the engineer was ultra smart, but it does emphasize the predicament of most people in the last few decades with technology changing, evolving, challenging and simplifying matters to some while mystifying the others. I am guilty of falling in the ‘mystified’ group and while the learning at times is exasperating it does have entertainment value.

imagesThose working in the field of technology are not strangers to these tech-jargon caused confusions. The most common one encountered was in Malaysia, ‘how to get out of window lah, it is bolted’ to the instructions of-‘now get out of windows.’ Seriously! Is Bill Gates listening? Oh why oh why call it windows of all the things! And then came Steve Jobs and suddenly apple is not just a fruit! Discussions on mouse usually are not referring to the rodent, cookies are not just small flat baked goodies, thread is NOT limited to sewing while crop is rarely associated with cultivation and cloud is not the white fluffy thing full of water floating in the sky. Oh yes, I can go on and on and on…..

While on a date with the hubby, I wished to check on the children and phoned home. Phoning teenagers and expecting the call to be answered was truly being unreasonably optimistic and repeated calls to both the son and the daughter went unanswered. Did I say that the hubby is a computer technology engineer? Not that it takes that particular qualification for application of most of the ‘tech stuff’ but what he  did next impressed and amused yours truly. He ‘found his mac’ forty miles away from ‘his i phone’ and remotely switched it and the apple TV off.  Lo behold, it didn’t take five seconds for our phones to ring with calls from the teenagers from home. And at that moment I fell in love again, with my enemy this time- the technology.

What could be technologically challenging in listening to music? The family has an account on spotify for this purpose and I begin my day listening to religious songs moving onto the mood of the day ranging from Pink Floyd to Taylor Swift. The other day just as my slow melodious Hindi religious songs of ‘Gayatri Mantra’ began, my phone rang. I heard laughter  in the background as the daughter giggled, “hey mommy, are you listening to spotify?” Hmm yes, why? Well, it so happened that she and her friends in college were also listening to  ‘their kind of music’ on spotify and when I switched on from the same account, my religious songs overrode their music to play “Gayatri Mantra” in their dorm 2500 miles away. (hysterical laughter…)

With apologies to the tech savvy people, many of my girl friends are technology challenged just like me and some are unable to follow this blog. The daughter has set it up for yours truly and  has made it very simple- just go to http://www.unnecessarydetailsblog.wordpress.com and to follow, like, comment, receive e mail about an update all one has to do is scroll down and subscribe. Thats all for now folks…Enjoy the rest of the week, and don’t forget to write in the challenges you might have faced with tech- NO logic….

  Pic courtesy: http://www.glasbergen.com