I have a very good friend – my best friend – who alternates between laughing at my lack of technical acumen and making snarky comments about it. Constantly connected to her entire life through her mobile, she does mails, facebook, twitter, maps, weather forecasts, metric conversions, updates on daughters, on man, on friends & family, all with a series of quick maneouvres on her discreet smartphone. She has different ring tones for different people (I haven’t heard mine for obvious reasons, but imagine it might be “Yesterday” – a nostalgic little tune about times well past), she even uses the bloody thing as an extra lamp should she find herself in a dark place. Sigh. Major sigh. I use my mobile phone to call people. Or text them. That’s it.
My children don’t really need a television or a radio. They stream things. This streaming business makes me nervous, because I gather I should get it by now, but I don’t quite see the point of watching Downton Abbey on my 15 inch screen when I can sit in comfort in the sofa and watch it on TV. Besides, I’m worried that streaming might be borderline illegal – I mean what about Pirate Bay and all that stuff, weren’t they sending out stuff via the net? Of course I use a computer (duh… like right now) but yes, it’s mostly for traditional stuff like mails (nope, not on my phone) browsing the internet or writing my books (and excel sheets, lovely, lovely excel sheets).
The other day my boss poked at my paper calendar and shook his head. “Who uses this stuff nowadays?” he said. Well, obviously me, seeing as it was lying on my desk neatly opened to the present week. “So outdated,” he said, “use your phone.” I chose not to reply, deflecting the conversation to something much more interesting such as the Accounts Receivable. (Skillful, no?)
I guess all of the above sums up to the sad conclusion that I’m not one of those early adapters. (Except, of course, that I did get a tablet before my technical whizz of a friend – like well over a year before her. Please don’t ask what I use it for because you’ll fall over laughing.)
This concept of early adapters is quite interesting, isn’t it? I remember very many years ago visiting an art gallery with my father. We were standing before a huge canvas – a Miró, I think – which to me mostly looked like a black sauce pan against a green background, and in the saucepan was a blob of yellow that could be taken for a frying egg.
“I could do that,” I scoffed. (I was only fifteen. More mature now.)
My father looked at the painting, at me, back at the painting and then he smiled.
“Maybe. But you wouldn’t be the first, so no one would care.”
Hmm. It’s like that silly little story about the first mouse getting all the cheese. Toted as a fable that will underline just how important it is to be first, it always makes me want to cry “No way! The first mouse will not get the cheese, he’ll be killed by the mousetrap!” And then, dear people, mouse number TWO will climb over the dear departed number one and eat all the cheese while fighting off all the rest of the mice.
Back to those daredevil early adapters.
“What are you doing, honey?” calls Mrs Caveman to her hubby.
“Me? I’m just …” There’s a sizzling noise and an odour of burnt flesh makes Mrs Caveman wrinkle her dainty nose. “I just invented the barbeque, sweetie.” I mean, WHY did that first man pick up a piece of meat that he generally ate raw and proceed to grill it? Was he tired of beef tartare? Did he want to use his hickory glaze on something?
Or that ancient ancestor who went mushroom picking.
“I wonder if this is edible,” she says, carefully nibbling at a chanterelle. “Yes…” she concludes a few moments later with a tinge of relief. She’s not quite as lucky next day when she comes upon a stand of beautiful, pearly white Amanita Virosa (Destroying Angel – very deadly mushroom) Unfortunately, it will be five or six days until she dies, so how did anyone make the connection? You know, “Aha! That particular mushroom killed my auntie Agatha, so that I won’t eat.”
This list is long. The first person to plant crops, the first to discover willow bark tea did help against fever (and imagine how many died due to the wrong herbal treatments), the first to look at a log, back at the lake and then scratch his head. “Maybe I should make a canoe and paddle over to the other side. Beats swimming there.” And most important of all – well, at least from my present horizon – how about the person (a woman, I bet it was a woman) who first devised an alphabet? Thank you, thank you for this wonderful gift!
In comparison with these huge contributions to mankind, the smartphone does strike me as rather … ehm … inconsequential? So maybe I can relax, sit back and smile when my friend goes into her “oh my God, you have to move with the times, honey!” mode. I may not use my phone for much more than talking or my computer for much more than writing, (No! Don’t ask about the tablet!) but I am a whizz at mushroom ragout, I do an excellent roast and boy can I write – BTW, both by hand AND on the computer, which is quite an achievement in this day and age!