Friday, March 22, 2013

Pet Peeves of a Technophobe

Photo Courtesy of Photobucket
Pat McDermott here, stating unequivocally that I do not write hieroglyphics on papyrus. My typewriter vanished ages ago. Yes, advances in modern technology have made my life easier. I’ve come to love word processors, but I see no need to embrace the new writing programs I hear about. Why should I? By the time I figure them out, they’re sure to become obsolete.

It’s not just writing programs. Email, Skype, Kindles, IPads, digital cameras, tablet computers, and SmartPhones bewilder me constantly. And the expense of mobile gateways to the web and their accompanying plans? Please. What’s wrong with a notebook and pencil instead of a netbook and keyboard? How can anyone keep up?

Nowadays, being a writer clearly involves much more than writing. Preparing submissions and cover letters requires at least a nuts-and-bolts knowledge of email and electronic formatting. Then there’s marketing on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, web sites, and blogs, not only our own, but also those we visit, often having to sign in via a confusing array of platforms like Blogger, WordPress, and Weebly—and they don’t always work the way they should. Consequently, I’ve learned enough about codes to know how much I don’t know.

Because technology changes so fast, I tend to omit any reference to it from my stories to keep from dating them. (I also suspect I would have been happy back in the days where signal fires and drums were the fastest means of communication.) However, I did brave the world of cell phones in my YA novels, Glancing Through the Glimmer and Autumn Glimmer. Kids like that stuff, right?

In this excerpt from Autumn Glimmer, an Irish fairy witch named Becula leaves a note for Ireland's King Brian, giving him her email address. The king hands the note to his teenage son, Prince Liam:
"Flowery handwriting," Liam said. "Very old-fashioned." And then he laughed. "She’s given Dad her email address! Becula@knockma.com."

His father nodded. "She set up an email account at a cybercaf√© in Dublin. I gave her my personal email address and asked her to use it rather than leave enchanted notes on my desk. I told her I’m not always at my computer and might not see her messages right away, but I’d respond as quickly as possible."

"You’re dancing to yesterday’s fiddle, Dad." Liam set the note on the table and pulled his phone from his pocket. "You need one of these."

A scowl darkened the king’s face. He waved the phone away. "I most certainly do not! Don’t I have enough people hounding me every minute of the day? There are times when I like being unreachable."
I’m with King Brian. I’m not as tech savvy as Becula, let alone Prince Liam. My cell phone is ancient. I don’t even know how to turn it on. I can text, but only when absolutely necessary, and only from my computer. And I still prefer creating stories with paper and pen and WordPerfect. I do my best to keep up with technology, but one of these days, I suspect it’s going to leave me in the dust. And I’m going to let it…

Thanks for reading!

Pat McDermott
Romantic Adventure Set in Ireland
Pat’s Web Site
Put the Kettle On
Across the Plain of Shining Books
Facebook

28 comments:

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Wendy said...

Good Peeve Pat, Once we has writers cramp from pencils, now we have RSI and tenosynovitis from punding keyboards. Good job Liam and Becula cope well with modern technology. I can imagine how the ancient King Brian would struggle.ie if he is still the same king from days gone by.

Pat McDermott said...

Wendy, I recall a story in which Sherlock Holmes knew that a woman he'd met was a typist because the tips of her fingers were flattened. Thank goodness we've moved beyond that! Though I suspect today's texters might develop flat thumb tips...

helenafairfax.com said...

I enjoyed your peeve, Pat, and the excerpt from your book was funny! Sometimes it seems a constant struggle to keep up with new technology, but I try and force myself as I don't want to be left behind. Can't understand why my 13-year-old niece never finds it a problem, though!

Pat McDermott said...

Helena, when I'm stumped, I always think, "Where's the nearest four-year-old?" I'm much better with tech stuff than I was several years ago, but many of the programs I learned no longer exist, and some of the new ones are daunting. Thank goodness for the kids :-)

B J Scott said...

wonderful post. Like you, I am baffled by the constant changes to technology and keeping up with the social media is a real challenge.

Best of luck with your books ;)

Mike Thomas said...

I agree with the comment about finding a four-year old to help with the complications of computer technology, but I worry about the time when I may have to ask a pet animal.

Best wishes
Mike
egiTObj

Pat McDermott said...

BJ, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Thanks for the solidarity!

Pat McDermott said...

Mike, I hope I never start asking my cats about computers. I do recall being terrified of posting my first comment on a blog a few years ago. Now I have three blogs of my own. Progress, yes, but where will it end? Thanks for commenting.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Great post, Pat! The worse part about all the technology for me is the time suck. But I quess it would take more time if we still used paper and pen. :)

Pat McDermott said...

Dawn, I didn't mind paper and pen, putting a stamp on an envelope, mailing the letter, and waiting a few days for a reply. Plenty of time to catch up on other things. But I wouldn't trade my online friends for any pen pal anywhere!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I agree with you about Skype, Pat, until my grandson was born. He lives 3000 miles away and the only time I see him is on Skype. But I'll take it! The only problem is when he wants to talk to me now, he smacks the TV and tells his dad, "Gam!" He thinks me and grandpa reside in their television.

Marsha said...

Hey, Pat. When I saw the title, I had to stop by. I so identify. My grands are little people who don't have their own cell phones yet, but they know how to use mine and their parents. I have this giant fear if I don't keep up, one day I might not be able to communicate with them. The best feature of iPhones is the instant pictures and videos. I'm fortunate to live 5min. from the grands (don't hate me, Joylene), but I know so much more about them and their lives because of the iPhone than my parents ever did about my daughters when they were growing up and we lived in the same town. Okay, now I need to go figure out what happened to my password that I can't get on to WordPress to work on my blog! Great post, Pat.

Pat McDermott said...

Joylene, I think it's cool that your grandson wants to talk to you! So what if he thinks you live in his television? When I was a kid, my grandmother showed me a stack of letters from her family in Ireland, the only connection she ever had with them since she emigrated when she was in her twenties. I never knew them at all. Today's technology at least gives us some semblance of connection, and with grandchildren, that's priceless. Though I wouldn't know. I only have grandcats at the moment... Thanks for sharing!

Pat McDermott said...

Marsha, if you lose your password, I suspect your grands can help you recover it. We definitely live in an era of better communication, great for those of us with families scattered all over the map. I can only imagine what sort of technology will be available to these "little people" when they grow up! Glad you're putting your iPhones to such good use :-)

Miriam Newman said...

Why do you think I write historicals?! LOLOL. I feel your frustration, Pat. Best of luck and know we appreciate your efforts.

Pat McDermott said...

Miriam, historicals are a refuge to me, and I'm not alone. No, things weren't perfect "back then," but talented writers such as yourself can make the past a fabulous, technology-free getaway for a few blessed hours. Keep up the good work!

Cynthia Owens said...

Great post, Pat! I'm still a bit of a technophobe, though I've learned some things in the last few years. But whenever I need technical help, I call on one of my teenagers. No matter what it is, one of them can always help. But I agree with you and the others that the social media thing is an incredible time-suck. I'm glad I write historicals, where the only things I have to worry about are turf fires and holy wells.

Pat McDermott said...

Cynthia, I agree, the writing is great, even if I do have to learn to navigate the latest version of MSWord and its cousins every so often. Yet creating a techno-free story world is clearly only a temporary escape, for here we are, discussing the issue on Blogger :-) Good to see you here!

gail roughton branan said...

I finally got an iPhone 4 (because the phone at least was free with the upgrade on my cell plan even if the additional required services aren't)but I wouldn't have if they'd offer an ordinary phone that just talked and texted. Guess what? They didn't. You've got to on the data plans now to even activate the new phones! But on the upside -- I was amazed. I love it. Easy as pie. Had much less trouble figuring it out than I had with my last "regular" phone. So it's an ill wind that blows no good.

Pat McDermott said...

Gail, I think many of us learn technology because we're forced to, and that's not a bad thing (but don't tell the tech companies that!) My biggest problem with cell/mobile/smart phones is, I can't see the darn screens. Thanks for the encouragement. The search will continue :-)

lionmother said...

Pat, your post is delightful and I agree that there are too many programs for everything. I always just use either my Pages or when I have to send to anyone without a Mac, Word. I have graduated to an IPhone and have had one for years. i really don't know what I would do without one. Texting helps me when I can't reach someone the usual way. I tutor and somehow my student's parent always uses text.:) I have had to become savvy in other ways on the web and frankly, even though I have my own blog, I learned how to put in pictures only last year.:) Blogger is very helpful, though.

I have also put some technology references in my own new YA, not yet published and they are mostly texting too. Having a phone with you gives you something to do all the time.:) It helps on long car rides and boring waits.:) Must read your books soon.

Pat McDermott said...

Barbara, that's one of my biggest fears: that I "won't know what to do without one." I've become a hopeless Facebook and Internet addict, and I love my Kindle, laptop, and computer. I'm glad you're using the new technology to help with your tutoring and make your stories sound realistic. Me? I avoid it as much as possible, like a hot fudge sundae. I know what will happen... Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Pat McDermott said...

Hi, Lorrie - Your post appeared on my Yahoo mail. Don't know why it didn't show up here. But this is what you posted:

Hi Pat, I'm chiming in on this great post, too.

I also have a love hate relationship with the technology that moves too fast for me to keep up.

I love how the kids think nothing of it and just go on their merry way using it as we did radios and typewriters so very long ago.

I don't tweet, I don't have an I-phone, just a regular cell for emergencies. And every time a message appears out of nowhere on my computer screen, I panic.

Sad, I know. I think these contraptions are out to get us older folks. Or I'm just plain stupid.

My response:
Lorrie, You are NOT stupid, plain or otherwise! These contraptions are out to get us, no ands, ifs, or buts. I hope I'm around when today's kids grow up and face tech challenges we can't even imagine now. He who laughs last and all. Thanks for posting, wherever your post went :-)

Gerri Bowen said...

Loved this post, Pat! Especially your excerpt! I agree with you about all the technology stuff. :)

Pat McDermott said...

Gerri, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. That excerpt is one of my favorites, extracted as it is. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Annie said...

Just been investigating some needless software myself--too many things we can really do without. And don't mention my iphone--I did much better with my push button brick and oh for the dial system... loved your excerpt...

Pat McDermott said...

Annie, I'm still very fond of my landline phone. I had an IPod once. It's around the house somewhere... Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for commenting!