Have a Merry Technology Christmas

I'm not a techie. While I can research topics, create outlines, and write books, I'm not on my cell phone all the time, or tweeting constantly, or familiar with the new greeting card machines. My husband and I went to a discount store this morning to order our Christmas cards. We brought a thumb drive with us. When we found the photo department, we were dismayed to see that ordering cards had been totally computerized. No longer was it possible to turn in a photo at a counter, select the card we wanted, and place an order. Still, we hoped we could figure things out, and inserted the thumb drive in the slot. According to the monitor, there were five photos stored on the drive, something we knew, but were unable to manage. Only one photo appeared and, despite our maneuvers, we couldn't access the others. A woman was using the computer next to us and offered to help. "Be patient," she advised. However, she had similar difficulties, going forwards, backwards, and repeating steps. Finally, she started the process again.

Fifteen minutes later, thanks to the woman's help, we had created a card and placed our order. "We couldn't have done this without you," I said. "And you've saved me from mental health treatment!" The receipt said our cards would be ready in 17 minutes, a technological achievement. We did some other shopping, returned to the computer we had used, and scanned our receipt. A door opened and one batch of cards was in the slot. A second batch appeared within seconds. Though we were glad to have Christmas cards so quickly, we felt overwhelmed by technology.

This made me think of all of the automated toys that are being manufactured for children -- robots that walk, toys that talk, and thousands of computer games. In my mind, some of these toys aren't toys at all, they are passive objects to watch. Real toys, like wooden building blocks, require kids to think and make decisions. Don't get me wrong; I benefit from technology every day. But there are times when I long for the toys of my childhood, toys that gave me hours of fun, and linger in my memory to this day. I hope you have a Merry Technology Christmas, and fondly recall the toys of your childhood.