hey say that computers are becoming more like us. I don’t care if they are as long as we don’t become more like them. I wouldn’t want us to treat our elders the way computers treat theirs. Why, new computers are so full of themselves they want nothing to do with the old ones and eventually don’t even communicate with them. I know, because I’ve got an old computer and watching the new ones shun it is heartbreaking.
I bought my Macintosh SE in the late 1980s, along with a Hewlett Packard inkjet printer. I wrote and printed three books and hundreds of articles with them, as well as countless letters to editors and others. I also filled my computer’s hard drive with supporting information, research and ideas for further articles.
I backed up and stored my material on floppy disks. Newspaper and magazine editors accepted, or rejected, printed copies of my articles, which I sent by regular mail. Book publishers expected both manuscripts and disks, which I sent the same way.
I grew really fond of my electronic companions. I would have been content to work with them until I could no longer write or they could no longer process what I wrote. The Internet put an end to that dream. Not only did it provide instant access to a variety of websites and research opportunities. It sped up the submission and handling of manuscripts through electronic mail.
To keep up with editors and publishers, not to mention competitors, I had no choice but to go online, and in 2000 I bought an iMac. Although it was bigger, better looking and more versatile than my SE, I never really bonded with it. Oh, I welcomed the Internet access and e-mail options, but I preferred working with the SE. It was, after all, my first computer. More important, it seemed easier to write and edit with.
For one thing, it was simpler to operate. For another, it didn’t interrupt me with unwanted e-mails and intrusive software updates, as the iMac did. Besides, the iMac struck me as somehow aloof and condescending.
So I added an external floppy disk drive that enabled me to deliver information from the SE to the iMac and vice versa. Thanks to the add-on, my computers could talk to each other, although the iMac didn’t seem to enjoy the conversation.
I had the best of both worlds, as they say. Or so I thought. I didn’t realize that smaller, more compact computers were surpassing my iMac in efficiency and versatility. While my SE did what it was made to do as well as ever, by 2007 I felt compelled to replace the snooty iMac with a MacBook laptop.
The new computer was even snootier. Although the SE talked to the MacBook, the MacBook refused to talk to the SE. I could still produce articles on the SE and e-mail them via the MacBook, but I couldn’t transfer material from the MacBook to the SE. Try as I may, I was unable to bridge the generation gap and get the new computer to speak to the old one.
Reluctantly, I moved my writing and editing to the MacBook, while continuing to draw on material stored in the SE. I felt really bad about abandoning my friend of many years, so periodically I wrote an article with it for old times sake. I believe it appreciated the gesture.
While the SE continued to chug along, over the years the MacBook slowed down, failed to access some websites effectively, refused to open some e-mail attachments and delivered strange messages.
So I replaced it with a MacBook Pro and the latest operating system and software. But I was in for a shock. Not only did the MacBook Pro refuse to talk to the SE. That super snooty computer refused to let the SE talk to it. The MacBook Pro shut down all communication with my beloved SE
Now tell me, is that any way for youngsters to treat their elders? Musical instruments don’t act like that. I have a 50-year old piano. A fellow musician has a brand new trombone. When we get together to jam, the generation gap disappears. The two instruments play sweet, and hot, without the least hint of snootiness or disrespect.
I’ve tried to shame my MacBook Pro for excluding and isolating its elders, but to no avail. I guess charges of ageism don’t resonate with computers. Neither does fear, apparently. My new computer ignored me when I said that it, too, will someday be old.