Is it commendably laid-back or annoyingly affected to be a late adopter of technology? It’s well known that, while people under ten can work any gadget instantly, most adults judder to a techno-halt around their mid-forties. Except Stephen Fry.
The sticking point for my mother’s generation was the video-recorder. I don’t even mean programming it, but rather, the entire concept of watching something that’s not on telly right now. I have older friends who have managed to move onto DVDs without realising you can pause and re-play bits in True Blood featuring Eric.
When I replaced my Mum’s stereo recently, it had to be a deleted model with a tape-deck and buttons big as side-plates. But even so it remains unused, other than as an interesting new object to dust. ‘I don’t want to break it’, was her defence. ‘If I have to listen to music, I’ve got this’. She wound the gramophone handle and I listened to Our Gracie banging on about aspidistras, while Mum caught up on some light dusting.
I fondly imagine I am up on newfangledness, but suspect I resemble those sad dads with south-facing hair who pretend to like Dizzee Rascal. Just today I had the following conversation, which shows what a modern hipster I am:
Pells Boy: ‘So I got a dondle. I don’t suppose you know what that is.’
Me: ‘Why, yes I do, fine sir. It’s a portable thing you put in the thing and then you don’t need to bother with the other thing.’
PB: Speechless with admiration.
I understand Facebook, iPhones, podcasts and blogs. Compared to Grange Girl, who persists in referring to the ‘interweb’ and thinks Blu ray is a type of fish, I am like Maggie Philbin from Tomorrow’s World.
However, and this is where I am heading, and I’m sure you’re only too pleased to be offered a signpost, even at this late stage: till now I have considered Twitter to be my video-recorder. Twitter is where I veer away from the fast-moving information highway, muttering about how pointless it is when one has email and texts and feather quills. And Viva Lewes, bless it, has been right there with me, a fellow journeyman on that dark and overgrown one-track lane to social network exclusion.
Then last week, I discovered that Viva was ‘on Twitter’. In addition to a sense of betrayal, my overwhelming emotion was irritation. Now I would have to put my glib prejudices to one side. As no-one likes to give up their glib prejudices without a fight, I essayed a last few: Who cares what I had for dinner? Who gives a fig what colour shirt John Cleese is wearing? Isn’t the name Twitter super-annoying, and aren’t the people who use it just Trying Too Hard?
Then I gave in, and got tweeting. It was easy. I keep a six year old child about the house for this kind of eventuality, and she showed me how to use it.
Beth Miller, 14th July 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com