In 1995, the world wide web was four years old; the President of the United States had had e-mail for two years; Amazon.com was launched during the summer; and I turned in my first college paper. It was seven pages. Hand-written.
My confused professor looked at my pencil-covered paper and asked, and I quote: “What is this?”
It was the first of many times to come when I would be woefully behind the curve in terms of technology. I’ve had a hard time believing that any of this new-fangled stuff is going to last. I resisted e-mail the way I resisted CDs when they first came out. I was so afraid to hop on a bandwagon because I was sure it was going to run into a ditch in a few years. I figured that when everyone else was bemoaning the money they’d wasted, I’d be patting myself on the back, proud that I’d never been sucked into that crazy wireless mouse trend.
In case you couldn’t guess already, I’m not what you call an “early adopter.”
In fact, any technology I’ve brought into my life has been around for at least a decade and has become the only option available. (For example, last year I went to Target and tried to buy a CD player. The 18-year-old store employee kept showing me iPods. That was how I learned that stereos were no longer a thing.) I am one of those people who is moving slowly and reluctantly into the present.
So it was a great stroke of luck that the love of my life also happens to be an engineer. For many years I could leave anything and everything computer-related in his skilled and nerdy hands while I went blissfully along my way with nothing but my e-mail, my internet, and my Word 95.
But then, we had kids. And I learned, as many parents of my generation have, that I cannot keep up with their thirst for technology and all things “new.” By the age of 5, both my kids could both run an iPad and bring up Nickelodeon.com on my laptop. Now that they’re 7, I have, much to my amazement, had to start preparing myself for the Snap Chats and Apple Watches and pornographic holograms (you know they’re coming) that will be coming down the pike.
When I was 7, all my mom had to do to keep me safe was lock me in the house. Now, locking a kid in their bedroom means nothing; they could become engaged to a Nigerian prince in the time it used to take me to write a long angry diary entry about how my mom didn’t understand me.
What this means is that this “Wait, what’s an app?” mom has to be ahead of the curve; I need to know what the new gadgets are so that I can figure out the pros and cons before my kids figure them out on their own. I have to learn about products and applications that seem to have been invented for no reason other than to send dick pics using the least amount of energy possible. It’s going to be terrible.
It’d be nice to leave all of this to my husband, but as someone who is familiar with how most technology works I don’t think he has the appropriate amount of skepticism and hysteria necessary to keep an eye out for predators or bomb threats or whatever these kids will be up to in another 10 years. And beyond keeping them safe, I want them to think that Mom knows what’s going on in a world of technology that is going to be more and more central in their lives. When they say they want the new iBelt, I want to know what they’re talking about before I say no. I figure if I can do that and keep from using terms like “the interweb” and “the Google,” I’ll be faking it pretty well. And faking it is what parenting is all about.