Approaching irrelevancy at the speed of light
Back in my day, when pizza and hot dogs were separate things, we didn’t even have smartphones. This is what I imagine I will be telling my teenage daughter in about 15 years from now.
Also “go to bed, it’s after 4pm” and “no, you can’t borrow my hoverboard, it’s way too powerful”.
My daughter is only 14 months old and is already fascinated with my iPhone. I honestly believe there is something about the Apple logo that subliminally attracts children from a very young age. Think about it: Why is the logo placed so conveniently at the back of the phone?
Steve Jobs knew that parents would take photos of their kids obsessively. Every time we tell them to look at the camera and smile we are in fact setting in motion a type of hypnosis, making them stare into the shiny metal apple while invisible voices tell them to always buy Apple products and watch Pixar films.
(Having said that, grown ups don’t even need the apple. They are already all like: “Oh I love Pixar. Steve Jobs was a great man. I want an iPad.”)
Or maybe I just feel guilty about the phone thing and I’m looking for someone to blame. I worry that I am setting a bad example for my daughter by spending too much time on my phone and that maybe I’m missing some of her important milestones. For example, I looked up from Twitter the other day and discovered she had a sister.
And kids learn so quickly. My 14-month-old has already managed to get Siri to not understand her and beaten my highest score in Angry Birds. I found her the other day crouched behind the sofa, clutching my iPhone like some sort of mini gadget genius, swiping, scrolling and programming with all the dexterity and experience of a two-year-old.
Luckily I caught her just before she transferred my entire savings into a Swiss bank account under the name Mendax 2.0.
It scared me. Not the fact that my phone just got stolen by a one-year-old or that Facebook now said I liked Nicki Minaj. It was that I could see my impending irrelevance. Seeing my daughter navigate around a smartphone like that made me realise how quickly things are moving.
At the time I started writing this sentence I was about 10 years behind the ever-developing world of technology. Now I’m 11 years. In fact I only found out recently that VHS tapes have little tabs on the sides to determine whether they’ve been taped over or not.
I’m worried that I will not be able to keep up with all the cool new buttons and flashing lights and as a result look a bit stupid, like when my mother-in-law told my wife that she just faxed her all the details, except that we don’t have a fax and neither does she.
I know how irrelevance works. It’s a slippery slope. It starts with technology and then works its way into pop culture until it takes the form of boiled lollies and regional newspapers.
I realise it is all part of the circle of life, hakuna matata, YOLO etc. But I am not willing to give up on technology just yet. I know that one day I will need help turning on whatever is the VHS player of the future. But for now I will try to stay ahead of the race.
My parents’ generation dealt with new technology well: Fear.
Don’t sit too close to the TV or your eyes will go square. Don’t sit too far from the TV or you’ll have to squint forever. Don’t mix the blank tapes with the used ones: How will we ever know which are which?
So, rather than trying to keep up with technology, maybe I just need to introduce a campaign of fear. Little sound bites that when told in a stern, convincing voice sound like real facts.
That way when new technologies are invented my daughter(s) will learn not to trust them and I won’t feel as irrelevant.
But I still get to ride my hoverboard to and from work.
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