Reverse Progress

When I was young, I grew just a little bit more knowledgeable with each passing year.  Partly because I was going to school where it was someone’s job to teach me new things, but part of it was just that as I grew older, I also acquired more understanding of the world around me and how it worked.  Yet somewhere along the line, that process has reversed. Now with each passing year, I seem to be a little more out-of-touch with the modern world and a little less knowledgeable about almost everything.

I blame technology for a big part of this, since it is evolving much faster than I can possibly handle, and it is also invading nearly every aspect of my life.  Take, for example, the telephone.  I vividly remember when I first learned to use a telephone, and how I promptly called my grandmother to brag about it.  I think I was about four, and I know that the phone had a rotary dial.  My mastery of the telephone lasted for many years, through the advent of push-button phones, wireless phones and even the multi-line phone I had to answer at my first job.  Then along came the “smart phone.”  I know how to use less than a third of the apps on it, and it took me over a week to figure out how to disable the annoying chime it decided to emit each time I got a new email. Which means that when it comes to my telephone skills, I’ve actually lost ground.

moms-bunSadly, my understanding of the cultural and fashion trends around me is also slipping.  I came of age in the Seventies, which means that I have many cringe-worthy photos of me during my teenage years, and am reluctant to pass judgement on the fashion choices of today’s young people. Even so, I admit that I don’t get the reason for the popular “man bun.”  Maybe I spent too much time waiting for my mom to get her bun exactly right before our family could go anywhere (she wore her hair in a bun for years), but I don’t see why any young man would voluntarily go to the time and trouble to put his hair in a bun when a simple ponytail would do.  And I really don’t get why he would want to cover it up in a cute little knitted cap.

As an English major, I spent years learning the proper use of the English language and the complicated rules of grammar, and felt confident in my ability to fashion a sentence that was not only clear but grammatically correct.  And then along came the word-processing programs with built-in spell check (which I do like) and grammar check.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m happily writing when the dreaded green underline shows up, alerting me to a grammar mistake.  I move the words around, consult my grammar books, change the punctuation, grind my teeth, and swear profusely, but the green underline doesn’t go away.  After a while, I just ignore it and keep writing, but my confidence in my grammar skills is shaken, and I’m faced with yet another area where I’m back-sliding.

I have heard people say that the secret to successfully aging is to keep learning new things, and I believe that is true.  I just didn’t realize that the reason I needed to keep learning new things is that if I don’t, the time may well come when I don’t understand anything at all.

68 thoughts on “Reverse Progress

  1. You probably know much more you need to get by! When I think back to the technology that was available when we were young and the many adaptations our brains have had to make to new developments over the decades I think we’re well prepared for more. Anyway, I think the digital native thing is a bit of a myth and many young people don’t use most of the functionality available either. Who needs it? And, IMHO, that green line is sometimes plain wrong!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Anabel! I think that line is just wrong sometimes, too, at least as far as I can tell. And yes, I do think our generation has had to adapt to more change than any generation before us. I don’t even try to explain my childhood to my kids anymore, because they just don’t get it: rotary phones, girls could only wear dresses to school, televisions with only five channels, no microwaves, etc. So maybe I am losing the knowledge department, but dang it, we rule when it comes to adapting!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Aha! Don’t have a smart phone, wouldn’t know how to use one, my pickup truck has an actual key to open the door, don’t have GPS, don’t have an app on my phone connecting to my bank, don’t know how to play all the digital games 6 year-olds have, about ready to give up cable TV, throw out all the remotes setting around. Now all that time I’ll have to read more, watch the sunrise and sunset, listen to the birds, count the clouds, listen to classical music and write poetry. Being oblivious to the world could be a “cool” thing.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Honestly, Larry, I think you are on to something. You may not be connected, but you will be happy! The more tech-connected we become, the more dependent, unhappy and anxious we are. Sometimes, simple really is best. (PS: I don’t do online banking either…..)

      Like

    • I know! I think of my mom every time I see one of those things! I don’t mind long hair on a man, but just don’t put it in a bun! And I’m glad we’re in this together…can’t think of a nicer partner to have!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Over fifty years on the planet (for me), and I still can’t figure out fashion. I suppose that’s the point. It’s to surprise and to create a sense of tribal belonging to those that need to belong. Or when it’s really outrageous, it’s to declare, “Look at me! I’m an individual” until it’s copied. Then it’s discarded for the next fad.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Me, too! That’s why I tend to ignore fashion trends and just where clothes that make me feel comfortable and happy. I don’t feel the need to look like everyone else, nor do I feel the need to draw a lot of attention to myself. Thanks for the comment, Sheri!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know how many times Word tells me it should be “it’s” when I know it should be “its.” It used to make me question my years of grammar and spelling lessons, but now I just move on and let that little green squiggly line sit there. I struggle with my smart phone too, but what really has me flummoxed is my car! It is way more complicated than it needs to be. They have evolved from being transportation vehicles into communication, data, and entertainment pods.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, I know! Gone are the days when someone with basic common sense and a few mechanical skills could do basic maintenance on a car. Now they are all run on a computer, which makes us entirely dependent on the dealership to fix them. Not a good thing….
      But I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who ignores those squiggly green lines. I don’t think they are always correct either! Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I know exactly how you feel about the grammar check, Ann. They always make me uneasy, even in cases when I know I’m right.

    The comments about fashion I also broadly agree with, but with the tiny difference that, unlike in your mother’s case, my wife already has her Bun exactly right.

    – Bun

    Liked by 5 people

  5. The world has exploded in technology. I was thinking back to only having a plug in phone, TV and record player, then of course, the stereo was invented. It blew our minds! And we had to buy new records. Who knew what was to come in our future. Boom!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think so much of the anxiety we see in society today is a direct result of the explosion in technology. We struggle with our computers, our phones, and even our cars, now that they are run by computers. We worry about how to store our photos, since every new thing (the cloud, the cd disc, etc.) soon becomes obsolete! And now we are facing “smart” refrigerators, cars that drive themselves (am I the only one who is scared of what will happen when they malfunction???) and houses that are wired to our phones…. No wonder we are so anxious!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always wonder what will happen when the “cloud” goes down or erases everything. How will we be remembered, as all our correspondence is done through cyberspace? Where does it go when we die? Some of the most important pieces of history is through handwritten letters.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I know! All this pressure to put everything on the internet, the cloud, or some other such thing can backfire, big time. Technology goes out of style very quickly. I have an old camera card with photos stored on it which is too big for my computer or I-pad to read. So guess what? I no longer have any idea what is stored on there….

          Liked by 1 person

  6. You know Ann, some say real wisdom lies in knowing that we know nothing at all, and I suspect that’s about right. Think of all the certainties you’ve had in life, then ask yourself how many turned out to be so – see what I mean?

    P.S. The ‘grammar’ function in Microsoft Word knows even less than I do – but it’s still wrong!

    Liked by 4 people

    • When I was young, I had so many answers, and was quite sure the world would be a better place if only everyone listened to me. Now that I’m not young, I realize how little I know, and just how random the world really is. The scary thing is that it doesn’t scare me so much anymore…
      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks the grammar function of Microsoft word was invented by someone with no language skills whatsoever!!! Thanks, Hariod!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I came of age around the same time you did, and working in the tech world I had to learn new technologies (and forget old ones) at a mind-boggling rate. It got to the point it wasn’t fun anymore to learn the new, supposedly cool thing. But I guess it proves that even if you forget the old stuff, maybe you’re just making room to learn new things – and maybe it can be different things that make it fun again.

    And I’ll put that comma where I damn well feel like, thank you very much squiggly green line!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know…it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to learn how to operate the latest technology, because I know it will be obsolete by the time I master it. And thanks for the support on ignoring those annoying squiggly green lines. I think we need to revolt against the stupid things!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Ann, I am experiencing the very same problem with keeping up with technology, even though like you I was once in full control at the start of the computer revolution in our rural school district and once even served as an elementary computer coordinato. Now I can barely operate my minimalistic (this word got a red underline) cell phone for which I pay only $10 a month top up fee. Thank you, Ann, for your insightful post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for saying that, Peter! It makes me feel a bit less alone. There is no point in learning all the newest technology, as it just changes faster than we can keep up. My son has a degree in Tech Info, and even he has to say (far too often) when I ask him a computer question, “I honestly don’t know!”

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was good timing. I had a talk with my 86 year old Aunt yesterday who was having tons of trouble with why she needed to change the way she was doing things. She hates her cell phone, but her kids feel she needs to have something she carries around with her. She misses her land line. She was upset that her Doctor’s office fills her prescriptions for her, rather than her being able to call them in. She says she is just tired of learning new things and, after 86 years, she feels she has earned the right to keep schedules on her wall calendar right next to her landline.

    Liked by 4 people

    • This might make me seem like an old fuddy-duddy, but have to say I sympathize with your aunt. She has earned the right to do things the way she thinks they ought to be done, but sadly, our world just pushes old people who try to do things their own way aside. (Although I do have the same struggle with my mom and the cell phone I’ve asked her to carry around. She does keep it with her, just turned off. Luckily, she has a land line so I can call her when she’s at home!)

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  10. I have two smartphones, the one I bought and found I couldn’t use and the one I bought because it was supposed to be an easy one for old folks, but wasn’t. I can use a tablet but something about the smallness of smartphones just spooks me. As for spellcheck, it’s often wrong because it doesn’t understand context, and the wiggly green lines are often wrong too because the computer has no imagination and stumbles over eccentric, meandering or grammatically complex sentences that even human children handle with ease. Don’t let the insidious thing change your writing style o With a modicum of faffing around and a few curses it can be turned off. That’s wot I fink, anyway. : )

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are so funny, Linda! But I do appreciate the comment and your support… those stupid spell checks, and worse, grammar checks, do cramp my style now and then. I need to be more courageous in writing things the way I want to write them and not the way my computer dictates!
      And yes, there is something very intimidating about a cell phone. I don’t know if it is the size or just the fear that I’m calling China or buying expensive apps without meaning to, but I am afraid to mess with the stupid little thing….

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the danger of the grammar checks is that gradually everyone will end up writing in identical and very simple English, because it’s so difficult to resist the temptation to ‘please’ those Green Wigglys (and Spellcheck). The thing with language is it’s always growing and changing, and it does that because both writers and speakers of a language are constantly pushing at the boundaries and subverting it. There is no – forever – right way to spell and be grammatical, otherwise we’d all still be writing exactly like Chaucer or Shakespeare.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Good point! I’m already guilty of that, sometimes. I have actually changed my writing just to make those stupid lines go away, which is silly because those lines are only underling what they have been programmed to underline. And who knows who much the person who wrote the program knows about language or grammar, and there is no room for the evolution of our language and grammar rules either. I think you are right that at some point, we will all be writing very simplistically if we don’t start ignoring those stupid lines. And now I feel I have permission to do so. Thanks!

          Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh how right you are Ann.
    I can recall the time when, if you wanted
    to change the TV channel from one to another,
    you actually had to get up out of your chair and walk
    over to the TV, press in a long stickity out button,
    turn around and go back to your chair.
    And there were only three channels to choose from.
    BBC1, BBC2 and ITV.
    How many TV channels are there now?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, if nothing else, the old TVs got us out of our chairs now and then. I think there are literally hundreds of channels now, but very little worth watching. I don’t care to see “real” housewives of anywhere, or any reality show where people get air time by acting like a selfish, immature, idiot. Or the endless competitions about nothing at all… I mean, “cupcake wars!” Really???

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It could be worse. Just think if in lieu of OS 103.6 or the smart phone and subsequent apps… those “Popular Science” promised Jet Packs and Flying Cars had actually arrived. Our “Muddling Through Middle Age,” most likely would have started a hell-of-a-lot …sooner.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right…it would have started way too soon! I can only hope the promise of cars that drive themselves turns out to be false. Dear God, what’s going to happen when they malfunction? We try to head across town to a restaurant for dinner and end up in some small town in Nebraska…..

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The secret to aging is that in a couple days we won’t remember all the things we couldn’t do (nor should we care). And besides: we’ve earned the right to flub and blunder. Just let the swearing flow–it’s healthy–and remember to put in your night guard to save your teeth from the grinding. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Ann, another brilliant post. I love this one because I can relate to everything you say. I, too, do not get the man bun – call me a sexist if you will! And I despise those underlined words. I can’t write “In spite of…” anymore. It wants to change it to “despite” for more clarity. Also, who has time to learn the other 2/3 of the smart phones? They say we only use about 10 percent of our brain capacity, so how are we supposed to learn how to fully use a smart phone?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that analogy between our brain and our smart phone! I don’t need 90% of the stuff on my phone, so why should I learn how to use it? And did you read Linda’s comment about the grammar check in Word? She said the same thing…it wants us to all write in the exact same simplistic manner, which is nuts! From now on , I’m going to ignore the damn thing. Thanks Kim!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The sentence about the need to learn new things because otherwise we’d soon not understand anything at all really resonated with me. Sometimes I find it amazing to think about how far I was into my adulthood when people began to use the internet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, it’s all a learning curve with our generation. And I think we need to cut ourselves some slack, since we weren’t raised on this stuff at all! Meanwhile, we keep learning the new things that actually interest us, and I think that has to be good enough!

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  16. I was smiling/laughing through your thoughts here, Ann. I sometimes feel the same way, that so many things are moving faster than I can keep up with, especially technology. I watch the Grammy awards and it’s like white noise to me, and I have always lived music. But somewhere along the way all these new acts came out and I have no clue who they are or what they’re saying. I only know it all sounds they same to me..:)
    But I think, considering secre several factors, we’re not doing too bad from a technology perspective. We probably know more than some and much less than others but hey..there’s only so much room up there in our heads and we’ve had a lifetime of filling it up so what little we absorb is a blessing😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a good way of looking at it! I like the idea of already knowing so much that I don’t have room for too much more. And honestly, with technology, my incentive for learning all the new stuff wanes the minute I realize that as soon as I master the latest tech fad it will become obsolete! I prefer to use what little memory I have to retain the things that are more timeless.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve always been pretty adept with technology and I now realize it was because of my kids. When they were young and living at home I had to keep up in order to 1) help them when problems with computers and software arose and 2) to keep tabs on their activities with social media and the such. Now that they’re all out of the house I am falling behind and could not snap chat if my life dependedt on it. Oh yeah, and I frequently forget why I entered a room or where I put my reading glasses but I guess I can’t blame that one on my kids.😊

    Off what it’s worth I bet our kids couldn’t operate an 8 track or drive a car with three on the tree.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m so sorry, Michael, for some reason I just saw this post! And you’re right, what little I know about technology, I learned either from my kids or out of necessity to keep up with them. And now that they are grown, that pressure is off, so I’m falling behind as well.
      As for our fading memories, I say, let’s blame it on the kids as well! That’s one of the perks of having kids…..

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh Ann, I can once again totally relate to everything you’ve written here. But reading through the comments has made me realise that at least we’re not alone. My 15yo son teaches me most days when it comes to IT, I feel as though I’ve fallen so far behind. But I’ve realised that’s ok. I know enough to get by.
    Spell checks are a pain. Man buns are insane. But at least I’ve taught my daughter well, she can operate a three on the tree and is pretty independent and self reliant.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is hard, at our age, isn’t it? Aren’t we the ones who are supposed to be teaching our kids? But as you say, at least we taught our own kids a thing are two. And if your daughter is independent and self-reliant, then I would say you did a wonderful job, my friend! Hope you have a lovely week….

      Liked by 2 people

  19. If it is any consolation to you, I’m well about 15 years younger and am starting to face similar challenges. I am pretty tech-savy but some things just elude me. The biggest shock to my system was when my 2-year-old nice taught us with a nonchalant swoosh of her tiny finger that the camera we had been using forever actually had a touch screen. Go figure….

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I laughed out loud when I read the man-bun part. I like them. Maybe because I work in a high school where they are the rage for students and male teachers. Although they aren’t as fashionable as last year.
    I love technology And have an iPhone, kindle, nook, laptop and Amazon Echo. But the phone is getting away from me a bit. I’m fine with the apps, and use Twitter for my news, Instagram for pics, and Facebook. I really would like to get rid of fb, but my blog posts there and I have a lot of readers from fb. And I have friends,who live in other countries and we text via the message feature of fb. But I draw the line at Snapchat. I feel like the only person in America, but I just don’t see the need for ANOTHER social media platform.
    So Snapchat is my line in the sand. And I won”t cross it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re not the only person not on Snapchat, because I’m not either, so that makes two of us. (We could form a club, and take turns being President and Vice President.) You are much better at technology than I am, but I have to say that I can usually figure out what I need to know, eventually. It’s just that I can’t ever say, “Yes, I know how to do that!” and feel the confidence I used to feel before all this technology took over. (I am active on Facebook for the same reasons you are!)

      Liked by 2 people

      • You can be President, lol. I’m also on Whats App so the parents of my students can reach me. Work is one of the big reasons I’m so “up” on technology. Plus I keep an eye on what my grandson is doing on social media. That might force me to go on Snapchat, but I’m really hoping not. It’s like enough already.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. This is an amazing post!

    A great way to “keep up with the times”, is to stay connected to all the living generations. That way you get educated on the past, understand what’s going on in the present, and see where the future is going.

    Though the digital era is taking the World by storm, you’d be suprised how many Millennials appreciate wisdom and simplicity. 😊

    Like

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