Married to a Luddite

June 2, 2013

“Are you on Facebook?” someone recently asked my husband. He said that he was not.

“I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested in the minutiae of my daily life, and I sure as shi t am not interested in theirs,” he said.

Although I’m an inveterate Facebook user, I must admit that I found his response not only honest, but refreshing.

For a long time, he couldn’t understand why people texted, when they could email.

“Everyone I know has email on their phones,” he said, “so why bother to text?”  Which is to say, his clients don’t text.

When I worked fulltime, I shared his point of view. But once I didn’t, I found texting to be an easy shortcut for personal messages and an alert that didn’t require me to open an email.

A few weeks ago, my husband asked his law firm to provide texting capability and surprised me with his first text:  This is a test, only a test. If it had been a real text it would have been more interesting, it read.  (He’s a funny guy.)

If I’d asked M. if he wanted a tablet for Christmas, I knew for sure he’d have said “no.” So I went ahead and ordered a KindleFire last fall. I was careful to also order a stylus, as he does not like touchscreen typing. It was scheduled to arrive on a day that I was at school teaching.

“An Amazon box addressed to me is arriving today,” I told him. “It’s for you. When you open it, you’re going to think it’s for me, but it isn’t, it’s for you.”

By the time I got home, he was in love with it.  It’s constantly in his hands and if it isn’t, it’s by his side. I’ve never had more than a 30 second look at it. And that’s fine with me.

Even though I go back a long time in Silicon Valley, I don’t find any of this stuff intuitive. Oh, I can get along with technology, but with a constant backdrop of anxiety, fearing I’m going to do something unrecoverable.  Compared to my husband, though, I seem like a technology genius. Even though he’s much better at it once he gets started.

Like many of us, he suffers from “fear of the unknown.” Which is odd, since he has actually stepped off an airplane while wearing a parachute. Compared to that? Technology is KNOWN.

mpbM. just applied for his Medicare card, so he’s no spring chicken and neither am I.

Not to sound like my mother, but I marvel at the comfort level younger people have with technology and how every three-year-old I know seems to know how to use smartphone apps and is an early adopter.  Sociologists call the process by which new things are accepted and spread through cultures diffusion of innovation. It’s where the concept of “early adopter” came from and I learned it decades ago in college.   The world has changed drastically in my and my husband’s lifetime and I can only wonder how it will change for the generation just coming of age.  There are so many innovations we won’t live to see–and that’s a thought that only started occurring to me this year.

Because of course, the young believe they are immortal, and I was no different.

One day, our smartphones, tablets and all our fancy apps will seem like dial telephones, anachronistic and foreign.

But for now, it’s fun watching M. make his way through these new technologies.  I’m married to a Luddite…but not for long, it seems. He’s catching up.




3 comments on “Married to a Luddite
  1. Alice Van Cleave says:

    I fear that technology will not advance as it did in our life time. Most all of our technology today began from our exploration into space. Sadly we as a country feel we can longer aford to maintain these programs. I feel strongly that our slow down will be our technological demise.

  2. admin says:

    Well, with such things as the self-driving car and other innovations, I don’t think we need to fear that. There’s plenty of innovation going on that’s not space-related. At the same time, I do miss the space program and that question to look into the unknown…

  3. Kelly Louise says:

    Dad just had a melt down when he discovered we’d signed Mom up for Facebook. Mom has a bit of dementia – maybe the after effects of brain surgery all those years ago – and she’s techno-challenged. Dad relented as soon as he saw how easy it was for her to scroll through photographs and stay connected.

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