Connected A tech rant, by old man Earnheardt


As a social media columnist and teacher, I regularly interact with folks who give me recommendations on new apps and other tech.

“Try this,” a friend exclaims. “It’ll change your life.”

Everyone means well. After all, I proudly wear the mantle of early adopter. I have the charges on my credit card statements to prove it, from my good friends at Google Play and iTunes.

The other day, a student suggested I use Box instead of Dropbox or Google Drive for cloud-based, file sharing. I resisted, only to watch the young’un roll his eyes at me in disgust.

Of course, the kid didn’t want to change his tech to accommodate mine.

Didn’t I know that Dropbox and Google Drive were for old people?

What I wanted to say, but didn’t at the time, is “let me tell you a thing or two about technology, you little punk.”

Of course, I would never talk this way to a student.

But the eye roll was enough to curl my old man ear hair.

Here’s why:

When I was growing up, we played video games on bulky machines in our living rooms.

Those, “throwback” consoles you young’uns like so much were our nirvana.

When you died in a level, there was no going back to the same part of a game. You went back to the beginning.

Those things in your pockets that allow you to take photos and video of every morsel of food you eat or silly animal you see? I had to major in communication to get my hands on that kind of tech.

I edited my video on what were essentially two interconnected VCRs.

It sometimes took hours to get one good minute of footage.

My audio often crackled because, well, one wrong move with the long microphone cord would result in “literal” crossed wires.

I shot my pictures on black and white 35-millimeter film and developed them in a darkroom using harsh chemicals that your mommy would never allow your precious little fingers to touch.

These days, we need to keep our digits Purelled and pristine to operate touchscreens.

Nope. Back in my day, a camera was a camera and everyone knew you were taking his or her picture.

Don’t even get me started on “risque” photos.

I still have vague flashbacks to college parties, kegs in basements and Polaroid cameras.

I’m really hoping those never end up on Facebook.

It may seem strange for a tech columnist to prattle on about analog media, but it was comforting to know that if the VCR ate your tape, you could use a pencil to fix it, not stare at a screen with messages about buffering and lost connections.

Back in my day, we had some control when using mechanical devices.

I miss that control.

Rant part two, coming next week.

Professor Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Read his gripes at adamearn.com and follow the old man on Twitter at @adamearn.

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