I succumbed to peer pressure and joined Facebook yesterday.
Apparently I was the last person on earth to do this. Certainly I was the last of my cousins to join. I had no idea we were such a techno-savvy bunch.
So far, so good. I've found and been found by a number of old friends, traded a few comments with people I don't get to see nearly enough, and even with all the floundering around I did trying to understand this social network contraption thingy, still Moscow stands un-nuked. I call that a win.
I have always had a strange relationship with technology.
On the one hand, there is a very good reason why my field of study as a scholar is the eighteenth century. I understand pens, ink and parchment in a way that I just do not understand anything more advanced than gears and pulleys - this despite the fact that for many of my friends in college computer science was the default line of conversation, and I could speak the language fairly well at one time. Until 1990, midway through my first year of graduate school, I did not own or use a computer. I had a manual typewriter that I set up on my coffee table, and that worked fine. When I got the computer, I put it on the coffee table, and it worked just fine too.
On the other hand, I sent my first email in 1986, when it was still the Arpanet instead of the internet. I wasn't all that impressed as I recall, and I didn't send my second email until 1993, but I've been on-line fairly continuously ever since. I was blogging in 1999, before the word existed, and I continued doing that until 2004, when I ran out of time. That blog is still there, so if you have an old link in your browser, it will still work. I taught a class with an on-line component in 2000, and if all goes well I'll be teaching fully on-line next year.
It's a quandary.
I think that a person's ability to absorb new technology comes to an end at some point in their life. My grandparents - intelligent and successful people - never got the hang of cassette tapes or VCRs, for example. Sometimes I think my own ability to absorb it all petered out in the late '90s.
I can handle blogs and email, I like the web and do a fair amount of shopping there, and I now write faster on a keyboard than I do by hand even if I still use outlines for anything of any serious intent. But MP3's? No. I have no iPod, nor any understanding of why anyone would want one. My cell phone, as noted, can do a lot of things I neither want nor am able to make it do. I'm happy if I can get it to make calls. The whole notion of a PDA just puzzles me. And don't even get me started on texting. Why not just write?
But here I am, blogging about being on Facebook. If it weren't for irony, sometimes I'm not sure I'd have any relationship with reality at all.