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Gadgets: Just Because I’m Late To The Party, Doesn’t Mean I Love Them Less

How in the world did I live without tech before? I can’t even imagine my life without my iPhone today.

Some of us are latecomers to technology, especially as we get older. I don’t know if that means we don’t like change or are simply intimidated by advances in every newfound gadget and device that comes along. Sometimes we need a little tech help from our family and friends—I know that’s the case with me.

It was the summer of 2004 that marked the first time I used a cell phone since I did so in a demonstration in the late 1980s. Back then, the phones were like bricks and it was more like a device out of World War II movies.

I remember liking the idea of not having a cell phone a decade ago. Nobody would be able to be reach me, and I liked that lifestyle as a single guy. But necessity made me use a cell phone because I was responsible for my mother’s care after it was discovered she had brain cancer.

My brother loaned me a phone to use, and while visiting the doctor’s office on the campus of UCLA, I needed to make a call to handle my mom’s care. I had no idea how to use this small block-like Nokia phone and had to ask a student how I could connect a call.

I was embarrassed I had to ask for help. After that experience, I abruptly learned I could never live without a cell phone again.

Boy, I thought if only we had this technology as a kid growing up in the 1970s, how easy it would be to set-up the pickup baseball or football game. Just sending a mass text would have been a lot quicker and efficient than dialing on the rotary phone and leaving a message with your buddy’s mother. We would have had more fuller squad games for sure.

And to think I went through my college years without doing any “sexting”!

By even when we’re willing to change, we’re slow to change. It took another brother to get me to graduate to a flip phone and then after using that for several years, he just bought me an iPhone since I wouldn’t take the initiative to get one myself. That’s the same brother that convinced me to give up my desktop computer by loaning me his Apple MacBook Pro that I carry with me and write stories from anywhere.

When my phone’s battery wore down, I finally took the effort to upgrade to a more advanced iPhone. I guess I’m getting braver, but to a point. I still don’t know what most of the damned features are and how to use them.

I finally figured out what an app is and how to download it on my phone, and now checking the latest sports score on there is a must. I even talked a buddy of mine in his 70’s to get an iPhone and showed him how to check the scores of his beloved Boston Red Sox. I’m learning—slowly, but still learning.

I don’t really understand this fear of technology. As a kid in the early 1970’s, getting our first color television was an eventful day that you can’t explain to younger generations today.

I remember telling my buddies that one day we would have an antenna on our roof and would be able to watch every baseball game and other sporting events we wanted. I didn’t know of the concept of satellite television back then, but I knew if you wanted something, somebody some day would invent it.

I readily jumped on the rooftop satellite technology when it was available and bought a digital recorder when they came out, although they weren’t cheap. The need for sports fix of your favorite teams overcomes any fear of technology.

Despite my tech advances, I still don’t own a DVD player. I bought a top-of-the-line one but gave it away to a friend whose own DVD broke and couldn’t afford a new one. I did retire my VCR with its flashing numbers a memory and even if I bought a DVD player, I wouldn’t have any idea how to set it up anyway.

I had to hire someone to set up my printer for my computer. After watching him put it together it, there’s no way I would have gotten that one right.

I know my dad would have preferred to put together a bike than scratching his head trying to figure out a printer installation. I guess I’m more like him than I thought.

I’m still adapting—not only to technology—but also to other changes. Heck, I wouldn’t even be on social media today if I wasn’t required by my career as a writer. An editor (and boss) made me join Twitter and Facebook to garner attention for what I write and the publications I write for.

Despite my initial resistance to technology and innovation, it’s not like I’m a stick in the mud. Like envisioning satellite television as a kid, I thought the same thing about the Internet.

When I was an 18-year-old freelance reporter working for The Arizona Daily Star covering high school sports in 1980, I would stay late into the night after I filed my story to read the wire copy from throughout the world. Even back then, the precursor to the Internet was addictive.

I always told my friends for years afterward that if people had access to this type of information in their homes, it would be revolutionary. Now, if only I had invested in Web-based companies before they took off in the stock market in the late 1990s, I would have shown some brilliance if I sold before they crashed.

That’s what I get for only knowing how to turn a computer on and essentially use it as typewriter. It reminds me when I was a freshman in college at the University of Arizona when a buddy urged me to buy stock in a company that was having its initial public offering in 1980. His dad was a stockbroker from New Jersey and said it was the chance of a lifetime. I remember that same phrase George Bailey’s friend said to him about investing in a plastics company in It’s A Wonderful Life—I told him I’m a freshman in college; I don’t have any money. What’s the name of the company I asked so I can remember it down the line?

“It’s called Apple,” he said.

Damn. Double damn. I wished I could forget that particular anecdote, but I can’t. And never will.

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