Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Plugged in


I know I am sounding like an old fuddy-duddy with the following comments, but I am going to say them anyway.

I do not know if I am old enough to be a fuddy, but at middle age I guess I might qualify as a duddy. I am not sure though, as there are no hard and fast rules on fuddys or duddys, so the area is  murky at best.

Anyway, I can remember back to the days when people actually spoke to each other in person. Nowadays, the most popular form of communication is electronic.

Little, hand-held devices have replaced good, old fashioned face-to-face chats. 

The electro-talk craze has hit the younger generation hard.

Just about everyone in the nation (except me) has a cell phone that they chat up a storm with, but the texting craze is the biggest difference in communicating person-to-person, or P2P, as the whippersnappers call it.

The younger crowd walk, sit, visit and eat with their heads buried in the latest electronic gadget. They are always hunched over some sort of device.

It kind of makes them look like chimpanzees digging out a tick from their fellow primates.

But it is the future, and there is not a thing anyone can do to stop it, so we might as well get used to it.

My dad, who is a full-blown fuddy-duddy (with a bit of grumpy old man thrown in for good measure) has never understood the electronics craze.

Even when I was a teen ñ which was a loooong time ago ñ he did not understand why I had to wear a Walkman, a 1980s-era personal cassette listening device. (I  told you it was a long time ago.) 

ìHow can you get anything done with those things stuck in your ears?î was often dad's rant as I did yard work or worked on my car.

ìWhat?î was often my teenage-induced sarcastic reply.

It was no big deal to listen to a cassette while doing work. At the time, a Walkman was some very advanced technology.

We were impressed that we could listen to a tape on such a small device. The technology of man was truly amazing.

The Walkman was followed by the Discman and it won't be long before someone invents the Beam-a-song-straight-into-your-brain-man.

Until that day arrives, kids will have make due with iPods, which allows them to surf the 'Net, send emails, play games, listen to music, perform open heart surgery and have your pets spayed or neutered.

That Walkman was the closest thing we had to fancy pants electronic gizmos and all it did was play music, and we liked it.

Several years ago, my kids stumbled across my old record collection and looked at it much like someone would look at an ancient mysterious object ñ which to them it was.

ìWhat is that thing?î asked Junior as he held up the plate of grooved vinyl.

I explained it was a record and it worked by dragging a special needle across it that would take the sound to the speakers and viola ñ you have a scratchy, somewhat muffled version of a song.

They didn't quite get the whole record-player concept, so I told them it was like a big, plastic CD.

That they understood.

An average record would hold about a dozen or so songs. Junior's iPod holds hundreds, plus movies and games and whatever else can be turned into megabytes.

Records used to get scratched and skip, tapes used to stretch and then someone invented the CD. Woo, a major step in personal entertainment, but they too had a tendency to skip if you were moving around, and that would never do, so everything went digital and nothing skipped, scratched or sounded muffled.

It also meant nothing was simple to use anymore with even the smallest device having more buttons and programs than the Lunar Lander. 

I still have the old Walkman, but cassettes are as rare as an honest politician so I guess I will have to stick with CDs, even if it is ìoldî technology.

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