Isn't it funny how laptops and cell phones have transformed from luxuries to must-haves? They've sucked in everyone from my 10-year-old niece to my 79-year-old grandmother.
My dad, however, has always been the type to cast off new technology as frivolous and worthless. My family was seriously delayed in accepting the Internet, CD player, DVD player and cell phones. What my father has resisted most are "fancy" cell phones, which, depending on his mood, may include colors, cameras, games, the Internet, text messaging or a flip design.
It was embarrassing to go to the cell phone dealer with him. As the saleswoman eagerly whipped out the latest phone and began to delve into its features, my father would cut her off.
"Now, listen. I'm just a poor hillbilly," he would say, as I shrank in my chair and studied the patterns on the carpet. "I don't want none of that baloney. What's your basic phone that comes free with the contract?"
Two years ago, the free "hillbilly" phone was a Motorola Razr, super sleek with a flip design, built-in camera, and available in metallic silver, red and purple. Dad was appalled when the saleswoman told him the Razr was not available WITHOUT the camera. He was even more appalled that he could not simply replace his broken, five-year-old phone with an exact replica. Alas, the old and familiar had been discontinued, and Dad was stuck with baloney.
It took him awhile to warm up to the shiny new Razr, but once he did, it never left his hand. Sitting in the living room, he proudly texted two-word text messages to my mom in the kitchen. He took photos of the countryside to set as his phone background. One evening, while he was taking the lawnmower for a spin around the pond, I caught him idling, Razr held out in front of him, trying to capture the sunset on his new camera.
Baloney's not so bad, is it, Dad?
Here's what I'm getting at: I want to talk to you tech-savvy seniors and baby boomers for a TBY story. Like my dad, many of you are constantly being introduced to technologies that, years ago, could have been the stuff of sci-fi novels. While some people are forced into accepting the changes, others are first in line for the next gadget.
So. Do you have a MySpace or facebook account? Internet dating, anyone? What about eons, an online community just for boomers? Do you text or instant message? I want to know what you're up to. How did you get started, and what do think about high-tech communication?
I'm especially interested in social networking. The Associated Press says people 65 and up are the fastest growing demographic on these Internet communities. My own MySpace search turned up nearly 2,000 members over age 55 in the Cape Girardeau area. I know you're out there, so call me at 573-388-3633 or e-mail me at email@example.com. I'd love to talk to you.