We, the illiterate

Computers, it seems, are really going to give us a headache. By March, the latest technological achievement will be in our hands: a small wearable computer that weighs only 75 grams and has a built-in cell phone, pager, e-mail service and radio. At the same time, a head-set display lets you play games while on the move. Before we go on, it’s worth taking this test. Do you think the new invention sounds, (a) striking, (b) extremely useful, or (c) ridiculous? The remaining commentary is addressed to those of us who are somewhat older and who chose the third and most discrediting answer. That is, all of us who, 15 or 20 years ago, when electronic technology began to become part of our lives, displayed indifference or even complete disregard. At the climax of our professional careers, we thought that the equipment with which we had worked ’til then was more than enough. We watched the young learning a new alphabet, reading their first electronic mail and we would scorn them. We used to brag that the human brain is unrivaled. And we were relaxed in thinking that electronic technology would be confined to special applications in certain sectors, that we would not affected by it. «It’s just a fad,» we said. When we felt the first signs of awakening, it was already too late. That’s when we bought a new kitchen stove, but we were unable to use the digital panel. That’s when we bought a new car but realized that its electronic devices were terra incognita to us. That’s when we had to ask our children to show us the basic functions of our cell phone, or when the younger colleagues at the office began to make fun of our inability to manage our electronic filing system. Some of us tried, even if at the last moment, to get used to the new technology. But the arrogance of the age proved to be too daunting an obstacle. For how can you sit at the desk as an amateur and treat your former pupils as your teachers? And above all, too much time was required to become competitive with the graduates of the new technology. This is more or less how we gave up the effort. People say we are the illiterates of the new millennium. And we inevitably stand up for our times, when imagination, inventiveness and creation were not a microchip attached to our head.