The first computer I laid eyes on was at my friend Brandon’s place, the first non-family household I stayed with overnight. As the youngest child of his family with a significant gap between he and the eldest sibling, one could be exposed to significant relics of technology. Since the video game crash of ’83 occurred before my peers were old enough to want them, it was those with bread-making brothers and sisters who housed Atari, Commodore 64s, and Intellivisions. On the cusp of the next revolution was a sixteen color IBM that sat in Brandon’s dining room.
Few of us could imagine how dramatically these units would change our lives. In elementary school, I had a pair of younger teachers that introduced us to their wonders. We each received a packet with hundreds of BASIC programming codes, just in case any of us would take it upon ourselves to investigate. Over the next few years, I progressively constructed images, made them move, and composed midi soundtracks to accompany them. I was far from the cutting edge of even contemporary computer programming, but I sure felt advanced for rural Indiana.
Our attitudes about computers were overwhelmingly positive, as we were not yet viewing their efficiency and function as a replacement of our workforce. However, Steve Jobs understood the adult apprehension, and if he was going to make money for his young company, it was in his best interest to put the working people’s mind at ease.
Thankfully, Jobs was nine months ahead of Skynet reminding us why everyone should fear the consequences of our present decisions.
These days, I coyly claim to despise technology while hypocritically relying on its existence. Such is the predicament for the GenXer experiencing the world before and after, feeling trapped by the very systems we enthusiastically promoted as children. When I tell my wife that I’m interested in reverting to a flip phone, I threaten in good conscience. (I only await my current iPhone’s death because I’m cheap.) Like giving up social media, I feel it’s one of the few things I can control to resist the stream of time. If only I could convince millions of others to do the same…
That said, I appreciate the Mac that produces these words. I feel a balance can be found between enjoying the simplicity of these machines and preventing the obsession that overwhelms our lives. It won’t stop the world from attempting assimilation, but I can be a stubborn S.O.B. Being that my 20-something employee pokes fun at my current iPhone’s age, I already feel like I’m winning.