Naughty Fingers

New technologies challenge me. Until 2016 I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to use a smart phone. When I finally took the plunge, my daughter Niki set it up and trained me. Very carefully, she explained and demonstrated how to open the apps I wanted. She showed me how to use the calculator, flashlight, and camera. There was so much more to learn, like how to get back to the homepage, and how to recognize the sound the cell phone made when a text came in. My daughter also helped me pick out a notification sound for phone calls.

As my daughter was preparing to go home, I noticed the cell phone’s screen was black. Hoping to wake it up, I shook it. Niki took it out of my hands, again. After swiping up, a keypad appeared. She punched in the numbers we agreed would be my secret code. Suddenly, my phone was awake and interactive again. I nodded, happy that I knew what to do when I needed to use the device.

An hour later I decided to sit down and play with my new toy. I swiped up on the black screen and the keypad appeared. I typed in my secret code and waited, but nothing happened. The numbers just sat there like small numeral guards protecting Fort Knox. I fretted, “Why won’t it open for me? Did I somehow break the phone?”

Driving to my daughter’s house, I tearfully explained, “Niki, I think I broke it.” She took the cell phone from my hands and tapped in my code. It instantly opened for her. I stuttered, “But, but, if there isn’t anything wrong with the phone, why couldn’t I get it to open?”

She had failed to tell me, and I had failed to notice her doing one small thing. After entering the secret code, she touched a check mark next to the keypad.

In the years that followed, whenever my tech-savvy children came to visit, I’d ask about various problems I had encountered using my smarty-pants phone. During one of my daughter Tammie’s visits, I tapped my cold, dry-skinned index finger on the cell phone screen, but it didn’t produce the results I expected. Huffing impatiently to my daughter I complained, “The app I want refuses to open.” Wishing to take my ire out on the source of my aggravation, I contemplated throwing the cell phone as far as I could heave the nasty device.

Tammie leaned over and touched the icon with one of her warm, soft-skinned fingertips. The program instantly opened. I muttered under my breath, “Technological discrimination against cold, dry-handed senior citizens.”

Recently, I complained to Tammie that the app icons on my homepage keep shifting around and sometimes disappear. She responded, “Don’t blame the phone, blame your naughty fingers. You’re probably touching the screen and causing the problem without knowing it.”

Looking at the screen of her own phone, Tammie scolded, “And, you’ve got to stop sending ‘thumbs-up’ emojis in your texts. After certain messages, some people could think you are sending a passive-aggressive message.”

I hotly responded, “The stupid ‘thumbs-up’ emoji button is too close to the edge of my phone screen! I don’t do it on purpose. My fingers touch it accidently just by holding the phone!”

One of my friends recently asked me, “Do you have a cell phone?”

Nodding, I admitted, “Yes, I do. But unfortunately, according to my daughter, I’m using 21st century technology with naughty 20th century fingers.” 

Taken from an article written by Mary Bellis: The Most Important Inventions of the 19th Century

19th-Century Roots, 21st-Century Technology

Everyday things consumers took for granted by the 20th century—the light bulb, telephones, typewriters, sewing machines, and phonographs—were all products of the 19th century. Even as we embrace the 21st-century technology that has rendered some of these marvels obsolete, while we might not know the names of the 19th-century inventors who created the precursors to computers, smartphones, and streaming media, more than a century after their inventions first saw the light of day their ideas live on, continuing to inspire current and future generations of inventors, scientists, and innovators.


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