Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pushing the Right Buttons

I wanted my computer fixed. Part of the problem was that the floppy disk drive was missing, so I wished to buy a new one.

“Mom, are you crazy? Which age are you living in?” my son asked

“No one sells floppies now,” my daughter also had to put her two- penny bit in.

“In the days of pen drives, you are talking of floppies?”

“Why not just burn a CD for your storage or transfer purposes?

But I need to transfer just a couple of articles now and then,” I said, suddenly apologetic about my redundancy.

“A floppy has just 1.44 MB of space,” said the all-knowing one.

“And a CD has 700 MB” piped in the second all- knowing one.

“DVD can also be used if you want a lot of data storage It has GBs of space.”

“Yes,” I thought, now I would have to write something really phenomenal to use that kind of space.

“Don’t worry; you can just burn a CD, even if it is only a couple of articles.”

I was scared of learning something new. Why couldn’t I just do things the old- fashioned way? Why did I need to burn things now? And burning was a way of getting rid of things, not adding them. In my dictionary, anyways.

“What is wrong with floppies anyway?”

“Mom. You don’t understand. No one has them.”

My look must have said something like that was not enough of an argument.

They went on to press their point home into my equal-to-floppy-redundant brain.

“Mom, you have to move with the times. Its like saying you don’t know how to use a keyboard on a computer.”

I had shifted from a pen and paper to a screen and keyboard. It was easy, said the kids. Everything was easy for them. I had to first break down the resistance in my own brain before I could get myself to learn anything new. And I had to do it faster and faster, if I did not want to be left far behind.

Technology just leapt too fast from the page to the stage. Take the case of the MP3s. They were so hot a couple of years ago, but with the onset of ipods, they now lay junked. Or the digital camera—who except pros needed one, what with the new mobiles which captured everything for you in candid camera shots.

With more and more gadgets in the market, I felt swamped with the need to learn where the right button was. After all, if one clicked pictures one also needed to know how to upload them onto the computer which meant understanding cables and ports and USB devices, and what not. New terms, abbreviated and otherwise, blasted their way onto my mind and then my tongue and I better know what I was talking about.

What is getting scarce is of course, water, love, space, time and energy, as everything becomes focused on gadgets.

I get back to the here and now.

“Where did I put my mobile? I need to call Megha for the video conferencing with Armana in New York.”

“And after that, of course, you will burn…that CD.” My kids chime in. “We will show you how.”

“Of course.” I can’t give up in the middle of the race, can I? I am made of tougher stuff.