I have been using a computer for almost as long as I can remember – you could call me a digital native. I used to need my dad’s help booting games from five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disks, because at six years old I could never recall the right DOS commands. I could touch-type by nine, started my first Geocities website when I was fourteen, and designed my first banner ad during my freshman year of college. I consider myself relatively tech-savvy; I wasn’t building my own computers or writing software, but I can troubleshoot like no other and I’ve always been on the Internet bandwagon.
So, you can understand my distress when, at 30, I feel technologically lost.
I am starting to feel that the current of the digital river is moving faster than I can navigate it – platforms like SnapChat and Vine give you literally seconds to process content – and it’s making me feel old. Each day I sympathize more and more with how my parents and grandparents must have struggled with the rise of general Internet access, email, discussion boards, smartphones, tablets, cloud services. I can’t keep up with Twitter, and Instagram is more perplexing and of less value to me than just taking a regular picture. Devices themselves are becoming less user friendly as they become more complex to keep up with new capabilities, new apps, new services, new everything; I can’t seem to get my notifications set the way I want them, no matter how many settings I adjust.
Where does that leave me? Change, of course, is inevitable, but it seems a little silly and a lot unsustainable to be switching devices and platforms and mindsets every 18 months or so. I’m still, for now, able to keep up with the changes, but they’re becoming tiresome. I don’t want to learn a whole new Facebook, I have better things to do with my time! But what happens if I don’t? Will I be left behind like many from previous generations? Will I be made obsolete by advances and shifts beyond my control and comprehension?