I upgraded my iPhone to the new operating system — iOS7 — and it was like putting a bikini on my middle-aged body.
Sexy in theory… but in practice, not a pretty sight.
And by sight, I am being literal here: I can’t see a goddamn thing. The thin and sleek typography fades into the translucent nothingness, a bunch of my apps have gone all wonky and grayed out, and if I accidentally touch something the wrong way, it darts away into oblivion.
When the thing went off during my spin class, I realized that my phone was now also a freakin’ lightsaber. You would think extreme brightness would help my fading eyesight, but it had the opposite effect: it utterly blinded me. Well, not just me — 25 sweaty, angry people who were enjoying the Zen of the dimly lit, hypnotic workout until iPhone interruptus.
You don’t have to own an iPhone to know that the rapid pace of changing technology has a way of making you want to curl up in one of those motorized chairs that whisk old people up stairs and never come back down from your attic full of simpler times.
Phones were something that people talked into?
If you were out, nobody could reach you?
The only way to send messages was by mail or, if you’re a Police fan like me, by bottle?
Having a screen in your hand meant you were helping your dad repair a rip in a window so that bugs didn’t get into the house?
When the Internet became something that all people, and not just shadowy governmental figures, could access with a dial up and about five hours to kill since that’s how long it would take to get a connection?
I know I sound like a grumpy old Luddite, but honestly, I’m not. I was the first of my friends to own my own computer (Mac Classic — yup, I’m an Apple fangirl from way back), and I hosted an Internet “chat” on an early pop culture site. Today I work for a boutique web design company, Fly HC Multimedia, and am pretty adept at poking around the back end of Content Management Systems. (I know, that sounds dirty… it is. And, you’re welcome.)
So what’s a technocrat like me doing bitching about new and theoretically improved digital worlds?
Part of me just feels like GenX and our parents, the Boomers, just aren’t wired that way. It’s not even about the technology — it’s the lifestyle choices that demand your complete attention, which it then shatters and spreads into 102 million different directions.
When you spend half your life asking your kid to help you, you know that the digital landscape has definitely screwed up the natural order. We’re not supposed to have to rely on the young’uns until they are driving the party bus to the old age home.
But then again, just as necessity is the mother of invention, desperation is the mother of intention.
For example, after my elective surgery over the summer, I finally had time to watch Orange is the New Black. Since the only way to watch it was to stream it on Netflix, I had to use my son’s Xbox. The first few times was a complete disaster, ending in me staring at a blank screen until my son arrived home to help. Eventually, though, I got sick of being that, “Do the clicker thingy for me, honey” person, so I buckled down and mastered the Xbox controller.
I know it seems like I’m bragging, but honestly, getting clear on technology makes me feel like Einstein Jr. Conversely, when I head over to Apple for help and I’m waiting in a however long a Google is line for a “genius” to see me at his/her bar, I know that I’m the dummy by default.
Because the truth is, whatever you need has a simple instruction lurking somewhere online. I don’t buy that I or anyone else can’t “do technology” when there’s a 1:17 long video of a person with a slightly robotic accent ready to tell you in plain speak how to get done what you need.
So just like the popular girls from junior high school, you have a choice: you can be the smart person you are and study up on the simple knowledge that can change your life OR you can sit there and just look pretty, protesting that you can’t do anything.
Aren’t you a little old for that?
By the way, from the time I started writing this post until now, I found out that the iPhone knows old people use its products, too. (Hullo, Jony Ive, the head designer responsible for iOS7 is my age!) Thanks to Bob Lefsetz, who writes a music blog I love, I found that under Settings < General, there’s a little tab called “Accessibility.”
Note to the marketing genius who named that tab: “Accessibility” is accurate, but it also makes me feel like I’m taking the ramp instead of using the stairs. In other words, you’re the reason I feel so damn old! Next time, consider changing that to something like, “Sexy Time,” for not just an improved physical environment, but also for a way better emotional experience.
At any rate, under “Accessibility,” you can bold the text and reduce motion, and now your iOS7 is age appropriate.
So if you see me coming a mile away, thanks to my super bright screen and gigantic, bold letters, just know that although technology may be making me look old now, payback’s a bitch: at this rate, today’s techies subjected to reading fine lines and tiny type will be wearing readers by the time they’re 3.0.