THE BLOG
12/17/2014 12:15 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2015

I Bow Down to Our New 'Automated' Overlords -- and Appliances

Robots HRP-4C & HRP-2 strut across the "Robofes 2009" stage and into the future

It's the year of the upgrade for me. And it has been a somewhat rude awakening.

The little house I miraculously bought -- on a teacher's salary, after a bankruptcy -- is now 15 years old.

The daughter for whom I bought that house, to get her into in a middle school that suited her soul and spirit, has flown from and then returned to that nest. And my ex-husband, I think more for her than for me, decided we needed new appliances. Large ones that he would choose and pay for. First, a dishwasher. Then, for Christmas, a washer and dryer.

I couldn't refuse. I couldn't have handled any more major purchases myself. I had already bought the new car I'd been putting off 'til retirement. That "last" car, I called it.

And that car was the first hint that I was now at that awful age when you say things your parents said when you bought them that first DVD player or iPod or cell phone or whatever the newest gadgets were when you realized your parents were getting really old.

Staring at all the touch screens on the dashboard, I realized that I am no longer the boss of my things. My new car, like all the new appliances, tells me what to do. And what it's doing. Endlessly. There's a gauge, graph, icon, bell or whistle for everything. And more buttons just on the steering wheel than I could ever master.

I'm not really complaining. It's wonderful stuff. I don't need a key, I don't need to remember to lock it, I don't need to sweat any of the small stuff, it's programmed to do all that. In fact, I no longer have to keep track of those service dates because it will prompt me, with an icon on a screen, when it's time.

Everything I need to know about that car is accessible at the tap of a screen. Okay, sometimes the screens don't do what I ask them to do, but it's mostly my fault when that happens. For now. I'm a little nervous about the long haul. But I try not to think about that.

My appliances handle their own business, too. The dishwasher is a little less bossy. It does the type of wash I ask it to do. Usually.

The brand new, state of the art clothes washer lets me know how long a wash should be based on the weight of the load and what's in it. And whether I choose hot, warm or cold. Or a heavy, medium or light spin. I can override all this, but that means tapping little icons on a screenful of lists. And that wash still may be adjusted automatically if the washer or dryer decides there's a better way.

Now, if you're a millennial, by now you're probably scratching your head and saying, "So?"

Bear with me. I'm a whining Boomer realizing that it's your world now. We're insufferably spoiled, as you know. And we're not all handling this aging thing as gracefully as we swore we would back in our Woodstock years.

It sucks. And it's scary as hell. Especially when the cars and appliances start talking back to and rebelling against us like we talked back to and rebelled against our parents back in the day.

But I'm going to shock you. I like my gadgets. In fact, I'm not the least bit afraid of them. I learned as much as I could handle, and then left the damned things to do what they do. And after that, I realized that I'd hit upon something profound. For me, anyway.

It became a conscious strategy as I was lining up a bunch of podcasts in my Stitcher desktop app. Yes, podcasts, those things many of us gave up on years ago, are making a big comeback. Or so say the daily digests I get in my Inbox all day long.

At first, I was overwhelmed by all the "Top 100" and "Ten Best" lists. And then I got Stitcher, which does for podcasts what things like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck did for my social media pages. It helps me get things in order and decide what to pay attention to and how to make them pay attention to me.

And as I was lining things up in the order I preferred, I realized that I now do with podcasts, cars, appliances and everything else in this wild wild world, what I did with those rapid fire Twitter feeds I could not make sense of back when Twitter was new.

I don't try to make sense of it. I grab whatever catches my fancy on the fly and get into that. And then I grab something else on the fly, and get into that. And pretty soon, I've got a pretty good grasp of what's going on out there. Until I don't anymore. But that's okay, too. I'll get there again. In time.

We haven't lived in a world where it is humanly possible to know everything there is to know for ages now. And today, I have no idea how all the "tastemakers" decide what's "hip." I mean, there are so many niches. What's hip to a hipster might not be hip in hip hop.

You know what I mean.

The trick, for me, is to quit caring what's "in" or "out." And to be the boss in the only way you probably can these days--by choosing what to grab and what to ignore. And to be just fine with the idea that you're missing a whole lotta stuff.

Oh -- I must go now. My new washer just "sang" its little music box tune to let me know it has finished the last load.

It has me very well trained. But it also just did a load based on choices I made.

That's progress.

Photo credit: Plasticpals. http://www.plasticpals.com