Electronics and change

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"I feel like I'm being left behind," my friend said recently.

She was talking about all the revolutionary electronic gadgets that people are using these days.

I don't guess she's ever seen YouTube because she doesn't own or have access to a home computer.

I was telling her about the tablet that my daughter got for Christmas. It's a small handheld electronic Nook, used for reading books. She just gets on the tablet and orders books from national bookstores. She then lies in bed and reads her books or magazines straight from the tablet. She says there are hundreds of books listed that she can buy, but there are also many freebies, too.

I remember years ago when my daughter and son pressured me to buy a computer. I knew nothing about a computer and really wasn't that interested. After all, I didn't know how to turn one on and was sure I wouldn't learn, I protested.

Now my computer is as important as my microwave. If either of them shuts down, I get desperate. I use my computer for research, for emailing my friends who live in distant places, look at Facebook now and then. Just last night, I downloaded and printed an advanced health care directive for free. By some, it's called a living will.

There are all sorts of freebies on the computer, including store coupons. You can bank online or pay bills without leaving your home. And you can order parts for your chainsaw, appliances or just about anything. Or you can order merchandise from stores like Sears, J.C. Penney or Lowe's. The various stores will ship merchandise to your door, often with no shipping charges.

I order my prescription medication online and it is delivered through the postal service. The initial prescription is faxed from my doctor's office to the mail order provider.

And, of course, you can read newspapers online. Or buy and sell stocks, too.

Technology is ever advancing, It is something the young quickly embrace, but leaves some senior citizens shaking their heads.

The automobiles we buy today do everything but talk to us and some of them do that, too.

Some things I do miss from the past.

Songbooks are no longer used in many churches. Instead of reaching for the old fashioned hymn book on Sunday morning, we read the words on an overhead screen. No need to pick up the book anymore. I like the feel of books. I remember in grade school when occasionally the teacher would pass out brand new books when the old ones were tattered and worn from years of pass me down.

I loved being handed a new speller because it had that fresh new smell that I loved, unlike the old recycled ones. Our teacher would then pass out brown book binders that were partially assembled and each student would carefully follow instructions and put the heavy paper binder on our new book.

That would ensure that the book was kept clean for a longer period of time. There were lines, spaces, in the front of the book where we carefully printed our name. In future years, the new book would be handed down and a new owner would print his/her name below the original "owner."

I heard recently that in some elementary classrooms that the school has done away with spelling books. Instead, the teachers comprise their own list of spelling words for the students.

I wonder if home games, like dominoes, checkers or monopoly are suffering because of wide use of iPods and all those portable gaming devices. At a recent gospel singing, a small boy seated in front of me, played games on his hand held iPod during the entire concert.

I think maybe people have substituted letter writing with emails and texting.

I remember when I used to write long seven and eight page letters to my parents in a distant state. And also to my daughter who lived in England, then Georgia. Now all we do is email each other with short messages.

I can send her a message from my computer and she can receive it on her cellular phone. Imagine that!

Yes, we've come a long way from party line phones and one black rotary phone for the entire family.

Electronics are changing our world.