With one exception, all of my friends use computers. They also own smartphones. Most have an iPad, an iPod, a GPS, a Kindle or a Nook. They frequently shop on the Internet and use MapQuest. They have a Facebook page and get their news from the Web. Some play Words With Friends.
The exception is Larry, a guy I have known for thirty years. Larry is a hardcore technophobe. He does not own a computer and does not know how to use one. His phone is an ancient unreliable flip which he has had for eight years. He does not know how to text and is still confused about how to make or answer a call. He still has a landline, consults a Rolodex to find phone numbers, uses paper maps, does not understand what Facebook is, registers confusion when I mention the term "blogging" and gets his news exclusively from the newspaper.
Since he does not have a computer, he does not see the point in owning a printer, a scanner, a copier or a fax machine. If he needs to copy something, he either goes to Kinko's (where he usually jams the copier) or uses something called "carbon paper."
Larry borrows books from something called a "library" but cannot easily locate them because the library computers baffle him. If he is not at home, chances are you can't reach him. He still writes letters on paper with a pen. To get the weather report, he turns on the TV or the radio. Or he looks outside.
I cannot email him a link to an article or a YouTube video. If I tell him about a funny tweet, he has no clue what I'm talking about. I read more than he does because he spends hours in the library trying to find books and cursing the demise of the Dewey Decimal System, while I am curled up with my Kindle. In dark restaurants, he struggles to see the menu by holding it near a candle while I illuminate mine with my iPhone's flashlight app. He never has a camera handy.
Granted, Twitter is mostly idiotic and Facebook is often a waste of time (although I do sometimes find links to articles that I otherwise would not have been aware of). Thanks to Facebook, I often know more about what his own daughter is up to than he does.
Often I will ask him, "Larry did you see that crazy YouTube of..." but then I stop myself when I remember that he doesn't know what YouTube is.
When I ask him why he eschews the tools of modern technology, he defiantly proclaims that he prefers the old way. When I extol the virtues of technology, he says he doesn't need any of that "crap".
Whatever the reason, it has become more and more difficult for us to find topics of conversation. Sure, we discuss books and movies and religion and granted these are much more interesting topics than tweeting. Nevertheless, for me, an element of common ground has been lost.
For example, when he asks me what I've been up to, I say that I have just published an eBook and that I'm blogging for Huffington Post. This will cause him to look at me as if I have just spoken to him in Farsi. He will never read this post unless I print it and send it to him via snail mail.
I do however derive a little mischievous pleasure from his disinterest in technology. We will meet for dinner and I will be unable to resist saying, "Guess what your daughter did today."
Then I won't tell him.