Getting Older: How I Use Technology [en]

At lunch my colleague ordered delivery for us. On her phone.

Of course I know this exists. But it hasn’t “worked” that well in Switzerland for all that long, and I think I’d never ordered food with an app. I felt like a fumbling doofus not knowing where to find the fries in the menu.

This got me thinking (and we had a chat around this topic with a bunch of my – quite – younger colleagues, and one my age).

The idea that you can easily and cheaply get food delivered is very new to me. This is not something we could do when I was young. I think I only really started ordering food during lockdown (when Quintus died, actually), and I only did it a handful of times. Maybe once before. But I call, speak to a human being, place my order. I don’t really feel confident doing it through a website.

Weird, huh?

We were also musing on why so many people seem to want paper versions of certain documents when a digital version can be sent instantly by e-mail (and printed, if need be). Some people just aren’t comfortable having important things on their phones. I recalled how long it took me (me!) to be comfortable travelling with only a “phone” version of my airline ticket. In all honesty, depending on where I’m going, I still am not really.

So, here’s a little list of stuff I do and don’t do with technology.

  • I use ebanking and cash transfer apps (I’m almost completely cashless)
  • I use an app to track my public transport use and bill me at the end of the day
  • I order(ed) books and CDs online from amazon, before I went completely digital
  • I buy plane and train tickets online (but am always slightly uneasy not carrying a print version when abroad)
  • I make concert reservations online
  • To book a restaurant, I’ll call them up
  • I chat and interact with people I “don’t know” online all the time
  • I’ve been meeting people “from the internets” for over twenty years (completely blasé about it)
  • I never managed to really get into snapchat or tiktok
  • I rarely print things, I tend to photograph paper stuff to digitally store it
  • I order groceries online when needed but I’d rather go into the store (when needed: post-lockdown, overworked)
  • I message people, rarely cold-call (except with family or purely utilitarian stuff, I generally schedule my calls)
  • I don’t order clothes online
  • I rarely print photos, they are first and foremost digital beings
  • I trust digital storage at least as much as physical storage
  • I know how to use a paper map
  • I navigate using google maps most of the time
  • I don’t have a CD or DVD player anymore
  • I have a Kindle and prefer most of my books as e-books
  • I type rather than write on pen and paper
  • I dictate to my phone regularly (my thumbs get fed up though I thumb-type really fast)
  • I rarely send people voice messages (never without consent – I hate receiving cold voice messages)
  • I have a location tracker on my cat, and home surveillance cameras (for the cats) but haven’t connected the cat-flap to the internet

When I was talking with my colleagues, I realised that the first phone I had which could usefully connect to the internet (through GPRS) was around 2007 or so (it wasn’t an iphone). I could check my mails and even Twitter. Load slow web pages that weren’t mobile-friendly. I was 33 in 2007. So until that age, I lived and functioned without a constant connection to the internet. And I’m realising, now, as years turn into decades, that I’m starting to see my age in my level of comfort with certain technology usages.

Quoting Douglas Adams:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

What about you?

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