I’m shedding my dinosaur scales. Some of them, anyway.
By choice, I was a technology dinosaur, trudging through this past decade with a limited digital connectivity. It suited my budget and my philosophy of a simplified life.
I was perfectly content with a basic flip phone as my cell phone. It fit my budget better than one of those internet-connected smart phones from a service provider that charges way too much.
I was perfectly content with my old laptop computer, which served me well as a combined typewriter, research tool and email checker.
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I was perfectly content not owning a tablet, aka a Mac iPad or Android notebook that is a computer cunningly disguised as the paper notepads we used in school.
I led a techno-simple life and was happy for it. I didn’t mind the techno-dino label.
I had no MP3 player to download music, as I’m still a fan of radio and CDs. If the Katrina mermaids hadn’t claimed my record player in the 2005 storm, I’d still be listening to vinyls, too. I was content, too, to have no computer game console as I prefer playing board games with real people.
The hardest thing to accept about this techno-dino lifestyle was poor Internet service. That was forced on me, not willingly accepted. There’s nothing dinosaurish about the Internet with two-thirds of the world now using it. In the 1990s the Internet changed the way we communicate, learn and even work. It has become as essential in the early 21st century as electricity became in the early 20th century.
Change of location
When I changed my homeporting from the Mississippi Coast to the the Virginia Piedmont, I left behind in Biloxi affordable, high-speed, wireless, unlimited Internet service. The replacement in rural Virginia was expensive. Rural Internet through satellite is not only costly but limited in download use and dependability. I rebelled and got a limited data card that had to be attached to the laptop near a window to pick up a cell tower signal.
So I’m a bit old-fashioned...
My five gigabyte data card was better than nothing. The signal was strong even if the email and download allowance was minimal. If I needed more download, I the took the laptop to the closest library.
This lack of ability to have wireless access for other digital devices in my house wasn’t a huge deal for this techno-dino who still had a landline and a flip phone for when I was on the Coast. Just in case you haven’t guessed, I also was unwilling to pay high satellite television fees. I got one of those digital HD boxes that pulls in whatever free signals are available, and 10 channels is enough for me.
Most people living in metropolitan areas have no idea there are large sections of rural America not easily or affordably connected to all this modern technology.
But I happily plodded on as a techno-dino, not too distressed by limitations. Then, this summer I worked on a big music research project on the Coast. I called one source and asked for a phone contact number. I waited two days, called her back and reminded her I needed the number ASAP. “Why, I texted it to you,” she said.
Ah, I just had a basic flip cell phone. Not a smart phone that can receive texts. After having to explain this ad nauseam during that summer research project, I made a mental note that I needed to shed a few dinosaur scales and get a smart phone. My dino attitude was affecting my work.
So in November I joined the 92 percent of American cell phone owners who now have iPhones or Android smart phones.
I took that sales opportunity to bend the ear of the rep about the lack of affordable Internet service. Guess what? His company had recently created a new service that includes a home line plus 25 gigabytes of wireless Internet use for the same fee as my 5 gigabyte data card.
Moving into the 21st century
Now, my house is happily wireless. Metropolitan Americans will think 25 gigs is ridiculously limited, but it’s heaven to me even if I have to carefully monitor my data use.
I can now carry my laptop anywhere I want to in the house without being by a window. Visiting friends can hook up to my wireless. And guess what? I just bought a computer tablet which I can use to check email, research, read books, catch up on a TV show. It’s much more portable than my laptop so its great for traveling.
Despite the new smart phone and tablet I’m still in technology dinosaur mode, but of a different sort. I now must figure out how to use the darn things and the learning curve is as big as a T-Rex.
So, you see, I’ve only shed some of my dinosaur scales. I still prefer to talk on my landline and feel no need for any more techno devices. For now, anyway...
Kat Bergeron, a veteran feature writer specializing in Gulf Coast history and sense of place, is retired from the Sun Herald. She writes the Mississippi Coast Chronicles column as a freelance correspondent. Reach her at BergeronKat@gmail.com or at Southern Possum Tales, P.O. Box 33, Barboursville VA 22923.