In my early youth, though we were far from living on a farm like in Lassie or the Waltons, we did use an operator to make phone calls. Well, at 66, I’ve more or less integrated an iPhone into my life. In my early career you had to type commands into a computer, and Fortran and C, et cetera, were how you got them to do things. Mostly it was to do calculations that were either repetitive or that could not be done by hand. Letters were still handwritten, and if you got a letter from a gal friend it always smelled really nice. (That, I miss a lot.) There was real effort put into written communication. In my forties I was an early adopter of e-mail and the world wide web.
Aging is interesting for a lot of reasons, and for you bloggers out there or other digitally integrated youth (wow, that sounds like holding hands), I’ll share a few clues about factors you might wish to consider if you want to interact with at least this one baby-boomer.
Not everyone likes being plugged in all the time
I have a LinkedIn presence because it is not invasive and does not parade every silly thought and action of the hordes seeking self-validation, many of whom I’ve not bothered to de-friend. I’m not on twitter either. Sarah Palin was/is. Enough said. Here’s an update … somehow my ancient Facebook presence which I turned off a couple years ago became active and I can no longer take control of it to kill it again.
When I’m on the street, I like to be present to the world around me. There’s a guy in NYC who lives by fishing phones out of sewer gratings. Those phones were previously owned by people who were not present in their environment. What is so wrong with looking at the faces of people who share your sidewalk, and who just might want to offer a friendly “Hello”? Are they unimportant or are you too insecure?
If you are on a sidewalk or bike trail, DO NOT USE EARBUDS. I’ve had several mutually hostile encounters with roller-bladers and bikers because they just don’t care about traffic (like me on a bike going 16-20 MPH) behind them. You may say you can hear, but you can’t and I’ve proven that enough times. Further you need to be aware of cars with every sense available. It’s like motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets. It proves there’s nothing to protect anyway. Parents, don’t let your youngsters wear earbuds where they might get hurt, or at least really do your best if you love them. Set a positive example. That’s the best way to communicate.
Technology can become a chore
Anything worth doing in our interconnected world can, for an individual, be done the simplest way possible. Do you know what a pain it is to use a commercial website that pretty much requires you to have a Facebook presence? It’s like if you aren’t on Facebook, for all they care, you don’t exist and don’t need to take advantage of whatever they are offering.
It may well be possible with enough research and effort to find an e-mail address somewhere on their website, or even a phone number (“Please listen carefully as our need for customers has changed”).
So when I see that someone is following my articles, what I like to do is just drop a simple e-mail of thanks. The last few, that’s left me bamboozled. Maybe it’s WordPress, but if you’re not commenting on an article it can often seem impossible to just drop a line. Is there some WordPress facility I’m missing? I don’t mind the anonymity of passing it thru the blog-site, but often it’s just not obvious. I don’t have hundreds of followers. Maybe that changes one’s perspective.
Am I the only one annoyed by the password jungle? I can see why banks and other commercial sites that must protect money have more stringent requirements, even enforcing periodic change, but if I just want to, say, interact for the first time with a realty company, why should I need to set up an account? The reason this bothers me, besides the inconvenience, is that if you are like me, you’ve got maybe two or four passwords you use all the time. So, to deal with this new outfit, and I have NO idea how reputable they are, do I use a word from my repertoire, or do I create a new password just for them? (I’m aware of password lockers and such, but have not as yet found one I really like.)
Concluding this item, try to keep the effort to a minimum. Like in a workshop, though more tools can be “fun”, there are lots of advantages to keeping things simple. In a word, that’s e-mail, no need to log on, and make any other way to contact you obvious and common.
Why a blog should be like a dog
I came across a blog article comparing a blog to a glass of wine. (I need to read it. Maybe I could get drunk at work.) So, not having read it, I wondered, “Well, what is it to which I would compare a blog. A dog is the obvious answer. It should be good company. When it’s demanding, the needs should be easily satisfied … a pat, a snack, a play time, or a walk. It should be attractive, but does not need to be seductive. (I hate that in a dog.) It must not be a chore beyond its value. A bit of dog hair on your dark Polartec vest is not a problem, but gobs of shedding or vomit can begin to wear on one. It should be healthy and easy to keep. Further relating to health, it should not lead others into ill-health. (You Taliban bloggers, take note.) Lastly, its barking should not make your neighbors complain.