I don’t have a hatred for modern technology — it’s more of a strong dislike.
Really smart people have learned how to clone sheep. Stem-cell research may allow us to live forever. Soon we’ll be going to the optometrist to have Google installed in our retinas.
And all I really wanted was someone to show me how to get the “Y”-bones out of a northern, or maybe how to throw a curveball — you know, something useful.
It’s been years since I’ve written with a hammer and chisel, or a quill and ink or even a manual typewriter. I am presently writing this column on a laptop, using two fingers and plenty of swear words.
But the computer has taken me hostage. I am at its mercy and it knows it. One false move and this dialogue could be lost in cyberspace forever — or at least until my wife can retrieve it.
I don’t think I am senile or particularly stupid, but much of today’s language has evolved as rapidly as its technology and sometimes I feel left behind. For instance, the other day when I was eavesdropping, I overheard someone talking about “megabytes” and I suggested her dog might settle down a little if she had it neutered.
Later that same day, I was watching a spelling bee on the Spelling Bee channel and a contestant spelled the word “OMG U R M BFF” — and got it right!
Sometime in the past 20 years, communication changed and I didn’t even know it. Conversation and simple directions have turned into a language dominated by acronyms, icons, hieroglyphics and myriad other confusing symbols.
When I get into the Ford parked in my driveway and explore the control panel, I feel I have dyslexia. The button featuring three wavy white lines either symbolizes “heat” or that I am having a bad hair day. The red flashing gas-pump icon either means the car is out of gas or the Arab oil nations are sticking it to us again.
I’m pretty sure the snowflake symbol means the car came from Florida and may need to be coaxed a bit. I was stopped for speeding last week and I told the officer I had no idea the blinking icon representing an angry highway patrolman meant that I was traveling 67 miles per hour.
“That’s LXVII in Roman numerals,” I quipped, sarcastically, hoping to make him smile.
He didn’t. Instead, he told me ignorance was no defense in the eyes of the law and gave me a ticket.
It seems today, overuse of symbols and drawings means we are either stupid, lazy or simply can’t read. Let’s say a parent is oblivious enough to leave a 5-gallon bucket of water sitting in the middle of the living room. Does an unwatched toddler refrain from diving head first into the bucket because the graphic on said bucket has a big black “X” marked through the image of a toddler diving head first into a 5-gallon bucket? I doubt it.
Or how about the graphics in a riding lawnmower manual? You know, the illustration warning that same oblivious parent that backing over that same unfortunate toddler is not a good thing? Thankfully, that graphic also has a big “X” drawn through it — just like the “X” drawn across the symbol of the previously described idiot sticking his hand beneath the mower and into the rotating blade.
The thing of it is, I would be in a bit of a bind if it weren’t for silly, mundane directions. A tragedy was averted just the other day when I baked a frozen pizza. If I hadn’t scanned the instructions, I might have cooked the pizza without removing the packaging — or, worse yet, I could have eaten the pizza frozen, without removing the packaging.
And if it weren’t for the graphics of an ambulance and a tube of burn-salve, I might not have realized the pizza was really hot when it came out of the oven and, perhaps, would have plunged my face directly into its steaming center.
To segue into some semblance of a food theme, the following recipes are quite simple and written in “old” English. I’m sorry, my BFF, if you have trouble deciphering the language.