I must confess I have hit my limit with technology. While finishing The Circle by Dave Eggers on my Nook, I updated my Facebook fan page linked to important stuff. Then I sent out a Constant Contact newsletter asking people to "like," forward, subscribe to, and read my blog. Next I tried to fix my blog to make it more likable. OK, not easy, but so far I'm getting it.
But for me, the final straw is trying to use Twitter and struggling to make all of this technology work together. Like the protagonist of The Circle, Mae Holland, I am becoming more connected, more transparent, and more unglued.
Cartoon by Marcia Liss
Ironically, I am thinking about a TIVOed episode (another piece of technology I have failed to master) of Elementary in which the contemporary Sherlock Holmes character states (roughly...I could not find the script despite a frustrating and time-wasting Google search),
"I often wonder if I should have been born in another time...ours is an era of distraction, a punishing drumbeat of constant input...this cacophony which follows us into our homes and into our beds and seeps into our souls...I'm given to wonder if I had just been born when it was a little quieter out there...might I have been more focused and a fully realized person? ...I'd want some of the wonders of modernity, just before everything got amplified."
Because I'm a bit older than the modern Sherlock character, I remember life and its wonders just before everything got amplified. I remember when...
- There was no TV and phones had "party lines."
- Households had one phone and people were tethered to it by a cord.
- TV arrived with a small black & white screen and 3 channels
- Papers had to be typed and retyped (remember "white out"?).
- People read newspapers, morning and evening editions, to know what was happening.
- If you wanted to be a writer, you just wrote on paper.
- If you wanted to know what your friends were doing, you had to call them.
- Twitter was a sound made by a bunch of birds.
Before you write me off as a grumpy old baby boomer, aren't you impressed that I figured out how to use a computer? Our first one, my son's clunky Apple II-C, came with huge floppy disks and sat proudly in the family room. I cried when this monster ate my master's thesis, and I had not backed up because I didn't know what that was or how to do it.
But my relationship with technology did improve. As a preschool director, I mastered (sort of) an increasingly smaller and more complex series of computers, learned a bit of excel, and delved into desktop publishing. I love digital photography and what I can create with the pictures on my Mac. And here I am in retirement, blogging and creating online newsletters. I can even handle Facebook, but Twitter totally escapes me. I have hit my technology wall.
Coming full circle (ouch, bad pun!), in The Circle, Mae is excited to have a job in "customer experience" at an internet company that links all aspects of online experience (TruYou), installs tiny cameras all over the world to monitor everything (SeeChange), and implants chips in children so they can be tracked at all times (ChildTrack). As Mae moves up the ladder, she manages multiple computer screens at once; wears a wrist band that monitors every aspect of her health; becomes "transparent" by wearing a camera and microphone that broadcast everything she sees, says, and thinks; and worries that only 97% of her co-workers think she is "awesome."Mae is warned by a non-tech loving friend that, "...your tools have elevated gossip, hearsay, and conjecture to the level of valid, mainstream communication." But she is also enamored with The Circle's slogans:
- All That Happens Must Be Known
- Secrets are Lies
- Sharing is Caring
- Privacy is Theft
What a perfect book to have read as I struggle to master my encore career as a blogger. Do I really need to connect to all of these things? Is it enough to experience the joy of writing, or do I crave "likes" as much as Mae did? Does it matter how many "subscribers" I have or how many "opens" I get for a newsletter? Will the "punishing drumbeat of constant input" seep into my soul too?
So I ask, is it okay to remain a Twitter illiterate? What you do think?
A version of this post appeared in ChicagoNow on November 29, 2013.
Why? The post 50 actress-turned-activist puts some entertaining spins on world events. She retweets interesting material from journalists and fellow activists alike. She also tweets interesting links to articles in The Guardian, particularly those pertaining to injustices against women and children.
Post 50 Arianna Huffington is a great believer in The Third Metric, which redefines success beyond money and power. Arianna often tweets links to articles on stress management and posts photographs of peaceful places. Follow her on Twitter if you want to unwind and also if you want to learn about current events.
Next Avenue features links to amazing articles written to energize and inform Americans over 50. Topics from Next Avenue include welcoming grandchildren, raising adult children and preparing for retirement.
Want to know how to live frugally? Follow Gary Foreman on Twitter. You can learn how to save money on landscaping, snag some luxuries for your home and write a great Craigslist ad. Definitely worth hitting the Follow button.
So much more than a contributing editor at Bankrate.com, Jay MacDonald will show you what you need to know about insurance crime and con artists alike as well as provide interesting insight on ESPN's Mike Greenberg on his new "chick lit" novel. This is a post 50 totally worth following.
The Points Guy shows you how to maximize your travel miles and points. Following The Points Guy on Twitter will help you save big on vacations.
This Twitter feed provides tons of useful information on how to handle old debts on your credit report and what to look for in an emergency credit card among many other super interesting credit-related issues. Definitely one to follow if you want to take charge of your credit.
As the senior writer for Huff/Post 50, Ann Brenoff tweets about topics that are extremely relevant to the lives of post 50s.
Founder of The Feisty Side of Fifty, a website dedicated to helping boomer women find jobs, Mary Eileen Williams provides excellent advice regarding the job hunt through her Twitter account. Her tweets can inspire any post 50 woman to find success.
This magazine targeted at boomer women who want to stay energetic and young will provide you with links to great articles on eating healthy and on other topics compelling to the post 50 woman.
AARP Money/Work isn't just for the long ago retired crowd. Any boomer can learn a lot of useful information from the posts on this Twitter profile. Tweets include links to articles about social security and the job search alike.
This fabulous post 50 news anchor posts about current events, the subjects of her talk show and a host of issues that are pertinent to her fellow boomers like methods for saving time and beating stress as well as articles on female leaders.
Post 50 Dr. Mehmet Oz will show you how to get healthy through his interesting tweets. Click on the #OzTip tweets for a list of all his greatest tips on staying fit and energetic.
This unstoppable post 50 and self-proclaimed "mother, activist and actress" tweets about everything from the perils of fracking to the hilarious new movie, "The Entrepeneur." Follow her for some real entertainment.
...and lastly for a great summary of all things post 50, look no further than the Huff/Post50 Twitter account!
Follow Laurie Levy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurieadvocates