Before going to my garden to pick tomatoes, Niki put her cell phone on the dining room table. Blaise, my four-year-old grandson saw his opportunity and snatched the device. His small fingers flew this way and that to bring up the You Tube videos he wanted to watch.
Although I didn’t grow up with computers, I’m not a total ‘slouch’ when it comes to technology. Seeing his expertise though, impressed me.
Ben, age thirteen, was sitting in the living room staring intently down at an iPad. The curtains were closed, so the room was shadowed. Ghostly blue-green light from the flickering game screen reflected on his face. Next to him, nine-year-old Jacob complained about having to wait for his turn and finally demanded, “You’re hogging the iPad. It’s my turn to use it. Hand it over!”
Gemma, my six-year-old granddaughter, was sitting at the dining room table drawing. She looked up from her picture and told me, “Last night we watched a You Tube video…” In great detail described what she had seen.
I’ve always considered myself to be a modern woman and looked in awe at how primitive the world had been when my mother was born in 1906. Few people had electricity, indoor plumbing or motor vehicles at that time, nor for many years after.
On the other hand, when I was born in 1950, most people had in-door plumbing, electricity, radios, cars and some even flew in airplanes. Television was introduced to our household when I was eleven. When I was eighteen, NASA sent men to the moon and brought them back.
Computers were only occasionally talked about during my high school years. We were told they were huge contraptions and were useless to the average citizen. Only scientists and researchers would have the exclusive need or use of them.
One afternoon when I was nineteen and working my first job at the hospital, an anesthesiologist told me and the two older women I worked with that someday blood pressures would be taken by machines that would show the results digitally. Not knowing any better, I laughed along with the two older ladies at what he had said. It seemed ludicrous and impossible.
In the next fifteen years, computers grew smaller while increasing the number of functions they could do. Suddenly, everyone wanted a personal computer, or already had one.
George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton could have promised a computer on every desk when they campaigned for the presidency during the early 1990’s. The number of people who owned computers increased suddenly during those years, just as I remember how quickly people began to have telephones and televisions installed in their homes during the 1950’s and 60’s.
I remembered what the anesthesiologist had said years later, when the Certified Nursing Assistants on my nursing unit were issued rolling carts equipped with blood pressure machines and a laptop computers. He had been right about the digital blood pressure machines, but failed to predict computer charting.
While my daughter picked beans in the garden, I began to prepare supper. My grandchildren drifted into the kitchen to see what was on the menu. It occurred to me they have never known life without computers. To them, my childhood was as primitive as I grew up thinking my mother’s had been. I asked, “Did you kids know that when I grew up, there were no such things as computers, cell phones or iPads?” They turned to look at me with horror. The expressions on their faces made me want to laugh.
Eleven-year-old Luke questioned, “Really? How did you spend your time?” I could see he was having a hard time imagining what life would be like without all of the electronics they play with daily.
Suddenly feeling very old, I joked, “We didn’t even have bus service back then. I rode a dinosaur to and from school.”