My very first contributions for the writing group Inkspot on the topic ‘Modern Technology’
It sat there in its modern casing, emblem of a new age.
I sat there transfixed and, if I were honest, a little afraid.
It had been delivered and installed, and now it was up to me to use it. I had been encouraged to purchase it by my friends who had embraced the new technology wholeheartedly. Already they were communicating with each other, their enthusiasm infectious. But this had done nothing to distil the rising tide of uneasiness in me. How did one switch it on? Letters and numbers – a confusing miasma whirling my sight. I stared at it hoping it would do something – all wishful thinking considering the obvious complexity of the device and the endless possibilities I was told it offered.
I sat alone in my drafty hallway willing myself to have a go – to enter the new world at the other end of the circuitry. But to my unqualified mind it would remain an inanimate object. And then it rang! I lifted the listening piece, my first faltering step into the modern age.
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My first foray into computers was like entering a new universe upside down. Everything required the unlearned patience of a toddler beginning to walk. Every click of the mouse needed an encyclopaedic scanning of the screen to locate the portal through which you entered the next world. An avenue of learning and information opened, that branched through the ether delivering all to my screen as if from nowhere. Yet there was organised and complex intelligence involved in the set up, planning and delivery of such an intricate system. There would have to be in order to contain the collected wisdom, knowledge, stupidity and utterly contemptible all together available with the same amount of effort. Such intelligence! That is until I tried to turn the damn thing off. Every icon and link was traversed in the whole cyber sphere – the screen I kept coming back to held no help. Each, what we would call in the old days, ‘buttons’ blinking their possibilities.
My granddaughter entered the room, home from school. Having tried unsuccessfully for hours to shut down the computer through the screen, she commandeers the mouse and clicks START!
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Every conceivable appliance! A device for everything – the pinnacle of a modern utopia. Computer chips operated the myriad of machines that worked tirelessly in our homes. Capturing one hundred percent leisure time had been man’s ultimate endeavour but even that had been given over to technology. It had taken the effort out of fitness and usurped our use for imagination. ‘A wonderland’ they said, ‘No more toil and strife!’ And very soon after society had become devoted to the couch and decades had rolled by without a glitch – humanity basking in its own cleverness. And in the third decade we were living every moment in bed – that is, until the Revolution and the great ‘Switch Off!’
They burst through my door, those soldiers of liberation, smashing the house’s main frame and inserting a charge through the system that burnt out every circuit board, every chip. They sat us down and gave us the first device we had ever had to use manually. My fingers fumbled. They physically hurt. Manipulating this complex device was agony. Before now thumbs were all I had needed. The tin can finally opened but the food inside was cold. “There was once a time when this device was modern technology, now it’s your key to survival!”
I ate the beans and then the tinned peaches hating my liberators!