Normally, I stay clear of hyper supermarkets, but recently I stopped by one to purchase a few items and ended up at a self service till by mistake. As I tried to figure out what to do, I was vaguely aware of a little boy behind me chatting away about his first day at school. After a few moments, I finally found the START button, but not quick enough for the new school starter. “What is she doing anyway?” His young mother went pink and told him to be quiet, but much to the mother’s disapproval the child with the eyes the colour of chocolate started to show me what I was supposed to do. By way of apology, or humiliation, she smiled at me and said, “It’s those machines, everyone finds them difficult.” She was being kind and saving my face but the truth of it was her young man could have worked the electronic till with his eyes closed and so could the mother. She was young enough. But me, I still faff around with technology. It’s like I have an inbuilt gene that wants to reject it. As a matter of principle, I don’t use self service tills—it’s impersonal, hard work and doing someone out of a job—yet there I was grappling with the latest technology and keeping a little techno whizz kid waiting. He was probably suffering withdrawal symptoms from his own electronic devices.
I remember when I was at school we used to try and guess what the world was going to be like when we were twenty or forty or sixty! Teachers made outlandish statements about how technology was going to change the world. “The day will come when you no longer will have to leave your home to shop, and if you do you will be served by an electronic machine.” Honestly, I think we cracked up! The whole idea of it was absolutely ridiculous. At university, I remember a tall, gangly professor talking through an unkempt stache and beard about the day when communication devices would be so small everyone will carry one in their pocket. We thought he was talking through something else that morning. And here we are, way beyond such outlandish ideas and our children can down load whatever app they desire before anyone can say abracadabra. To think we spent all our time saying that blasted word and nothing appeared! We had to imagine something up.
Sometimes, I still can’t fathom how technology has changed the world and the way it operates, as my mum says, “…in such a short space of time too!” She thinks I’m ace at technology! I send a few photos to her phone or order something online that is delivered to her the next day and she thinks I’m amazing, but the truth of it is I struggle with it; social media, self service tills, an apps for this, an account for that and don’t get me started on passwords! It’s not so much using it. That’s the easy part. It more the bit were it has permeated every part of life. At times, I feel overwhelmed with information from all sorts of devices coming at me left, right and centre. It doesn’t help when you are being scrutinized by a four year old in brand new uniform. The proliferation of social media and technology has changed our world and our supermarkets but it hasn’t changed the way children just say it as it is.