'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
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HIGH TECH GIZMOS NEED HIGH TECH 12-YEAR-OLD
Well, it’s been about a month since Christmas. This year the most popular gifts were electronic gizmos, such as iPhones, Droids, Kindles, flat-screen TVs, Nooks, DVRs, and iPads. (By the way, if you don’t recognize any of those names, then maybe you should stop reading this column, and instead put down the newspaper and go finish churning the butter, because you have a long buggy ride ahead of you this afternoon to visit the telegraph office.)
Those high-tech marvels are no doubt terrific presents to unwrap on Christmas morning. Many people were thrilled to receive such wonderful gifts. And apparently, many other people were extremely disappointed when Santa chose to bring socks and sweaters rather than an electronic toy. Right after Christmas a Facebook page was created so people could gripe and vent their frustration. The most common post said something like, “Am I the only person on the planet who DIDN’T get an iPhone?! Christmas sucks!!!” Ah yes, nothing says “celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace” like public displays of unbridled greed and envy.
Anyway, millions of people did receive fancy electronic toys, and right about now, four weeks later, these people finally have discovered a sad fact that never gets mentioned in all the slick television commercials: only 12-year-olds truly comprehend menu-driven software. The rest of the American population, especially adults over the age of 45, have their eyes glaze over when confronted with such cryptic concepts as “set-up menus,” “access codes,” “wireless settings,” and “remote device interface.” (There are many other frightening software terms being used, but the ones I listed are the terms I know I don’t know. Terms I didn’t list are the ones I don’t even know I don’t know anything about.)
I was watching a ballgame the other day with a friend of mine who already owned an iPhone and received an iPad for Christmas. During a time-out, an Apple commercial came on which showed a guy taking a photograph with his iPhone, editing the photo right on the screen of the phone, and then instantly transferring the image via a Wi-Fi connection (or possibly black magic) to his iPad back at home.
I said to my friend, “Can you do that with your iPhone and iPad?”
He just laughed and said, “I don’t even know what they’re talking about. I just use my iPhone to make phone calls, and I use my iPad to surf the Internet and accidentally take photos of the floor. And it took me two weeks to figure out how to do those things.”
I said, “But what about all those zillions of ‘apps’ that are available?”
He shrugged and said, “That would be nice, but I don’t have a 12-year-old nephew to set up that stuff for me. So I’m stuck.”
So that’s the problem we middle-aged geezers face nowadays. The high-tech devices give us an amazing amount of potential functionality, but if there is no nerdy 7th grader nearby to unlock these mysteries, we’re out of luck. (Did I just type “potential functionality”? What am I, in marketing? Oh wait, that’s right, I am. Never mind.)
To put it in terms folks my age can understand, we’ve got all this available horsepower, but we can’t start the car. We might as well be living in the 19th century.
Speaking of horsepower, I have to get going and hitch up the horse to my buggy. Right after I finish churning the butter I have to take a ride to the telegraph office.
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