Information technology and social media aren’t my mother tongue. I’m a digital immigrant. I wasn’t born into the world of information technology but migrated into it, piecemeal. I first lived in some foreign territories.
I was nine years old before I lived with electricity. I had seen it before, but neither our home, nor our school, nor our neighbours had electricity. Electricity, when I first saw it, was a huge revelation. And while I grew up with radio, I was 14 before our family got its first television set. Again, this was a revelation – and manna for my adolescent hunger for connection to the larger world. Electricity and television quickly became a mother tongue: one lit our home and other brought the big world into it. But the telephone was still foreign. I was 17 when I left home and our family had never had a phone.
I soon got to grips with the phone, but it would be a goodly number of years before I mastered much in the brave new world of information technology: computers, the internet, websites, mobile phones, smartphones, television and movie access through the internet, cloud storage, social media, virtual assistants and the world of myriad apps. It’s been a journey.
I was 38 when I first used a video, 42 before I first owned a computer, 50 before I first accessed the web and used email, 58 when I owned my first mobile phone, the same age when I first set up a website, 62 before I first texted, and 65 before I joined Facebook. With email, texting and Facebook being all I can handle, I still do not have either an Instagram or Twitter account.
I’m the only person in my immediate religious community who still prays the Office of the Church out of a book rather than off a mobile device. I protest that paper has soul while digital devices do not. The responses I get are not particularly sympathetic. But it’s for reasons of soul that I much prefer to have a book in my hand than a Kindle.
I’m not against information technology; mainly it’s just that I’m not very good at it. I struggle with the language. It’s hard to master a new language as an adult and I envy the young who can speak this language well.
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