Let Inga Tell You: I’m still living, but my time isn’t

Inga's 1947 home came with a built-in phone nook — no, there was no outlet for a charger.

My worst fear isn’t dying. It’s having to get new electronics.

Seriously, I don’t know what I’m going to do when the iPhone 30 comes out and my iPhone 7 simply won’t work anymore. As I’ve said before, I know many people (including my own sons) who can’t wait to upgrade to the latest phone. Me, I’d rather eat my own organs.

Those nice people at the phone store always insist that they’ll do all the work for me and I won’t even notice the difference. They lie. Not one single app that I had used before will ever work the same. Apple will have upgraded it so that whatever features were simple and obvious require an engineering degree — or a user under age 10. My grandchildren intuitively know how to work this stuff. But then, they study the phone nook that was built into the wall of my 1947 home and ask, “But where did you plug in the charger?”

My grandchildren are growing up with ever-changing technology, so it comes easily to them. But for me (and many in my age group), learning any new technology is just plain stressful.

My friend Ingrid sent me this message some time back about her boyfriend, Mike (my age), which I keep taped to my bulletin board because it is such a delicious fantasy:

Hi Inga,

Did I ever tell you that one day I went to Mike’s house and noticed that his computer was gone? He said he was so frustrated with it that he took it out in the garage, took a hammer and beat the hell out of it. It ended up in the garbage can. Mike never bought another one.

I feel you, Mike.

Other than self-driving cars, an innovation I can really get my head around, I’ve clearly outlived my time. I grew up in an era when TV sets and household appliances did not need manuals. (Yes, really.) When paid parking required putting coins in a meter. When I understood light bulbs. When I wouldn’t be completely thwarted by a self-service scanner at CVS. When you didn’t need to use an app on your phone to check out a library book (which, by the way, takes five times longer than using a library card).

And don’t get me started about those Japanese toilets. Personally, I think that people who don’t leave specific instructions taped to the wall behind them deserve what they get. I hope you’re getting my drift there. That’s my second-favorite fantasy after smashing my computer into tiny bits.

Some areas of technology that I was really looking forward to have utterly failed, in my view. Like security cameras. I’ve written about the spate of crime in our area and the frustrated efforts of my neighbors to rein in what seems to be a nightly onslaught of bike thieves, garage break-ins, porch pirates, creepy trespassers and brazen burglary attempts even when people are home, all caught up close and personal on their home security cameras and then posted on social media.

Alas, security cameras are purely for entertainment purposes. Crime reduction or criminal apprehension, not so much. You just get to watch people stealing your packages or your car or breaking into your house in real time. Sometimes the perps even wave.

I have found it is a mental health move to rant about technology from time to time. Otherwise, I truly would be sorely tempted to follow Mike’s lead and inflict violence on my computer, and maybe my phone, too.

I remember learning in some long-ago anthropology class that some cultures, not wishing to waste precious food on non-productive elders, set them adrift on an ice floe — probably in the direction of some hungry-looking polar bears — and waved bye-bye. This worked better in cold climates than, say, the Kalahari Desert, where the equivalent was probably tying a slab of raw meat around Mom and Dad and leaving them on the savannah.

Where was I going with this? Ah yes, people outliving their time. But maybe those old folks were ready to go. I fantasize them floating off to sea saying: “Don’t tell the kids, but we are just so sick of trying to get reliable Wi-Fi in the igloo. How hard was dog sledding over to the neighbors?”

It is a common lament among people in my demographic that daily life didn’t seem to require tech support in the form of adult kids or alas, actual tech support. We don’t want to have to ask anybody how to do what always used to be simple things. The irony is that we all agree that at one point in our lives, we were really excited about future innovations. Who knew that the Smith-Corona electric typewriter that revolutionized my college career was going to be such a slippery slope?

But I still wouldn’t mind one of those self-driving cars.

Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at ◆