Column: Lessons in technology do not always compute

Everyone knows I have a love-hate relationship with technology. Actually, it's more of a hate-hate relationship. Technology hates me, and I hate it right back.

My aversion to all things computerized stems from my earliest encounters with word processors, dot-matrix printers and mobile phones the size of a breadbox. I truly believe they were bound and determined to make me nuts. Yes, "bound and determined," as in: not a random happenstance, accident or stroke of soulless robotic luck.

Somewhere in the deepest, darkest, most primitive reptilian circuitry of those contraptions' "brains," conscious decisions were made to drive the puny human crazy.

My newest electronic device is an iPhone. We didn't want to go to the trouble of switching cell service providers; but we longed to have coverage — we'd settle for two bars — without having to stand directly under a cell tower. The iPhone came free with the new service, and "free" is one of my favorite words.

Rather than read the manual — manuals are for suckers — I took iPhone lessons from my two sons, my daughter, my daughter-in-law and my teenage granddaughter. Looking back, it wasn't one of my best decisions.

The kids started with tutorials on signing up for iTunes (I don't want to), sending myself reminders (I don't need to) and playing games (not going to happen). I just needed to know how to make and answer calls.

Having taught my children to tie their shoes, eat with utensils, and go to the potty, I realized it was finally payback time, and resolved not to make it easy for them. Six and a half hours, three liters of Mountain Dew, an entire batch of brownies and one Valium later (I took the Valium), I was making and answering calls without training wheels.

I thought we were done.

But then the kids insisted on showing me how to do email and text on the iPhone. I protested, at first, that I had no need of such fancy-schmancy features. Yet, within 24 hours, I couldn't not email and text everyone I know…all the time…no matter where I am.

My brood was happy that, henceforth, I'd be texting them, rather than calling or "spamming" their in-boxes with mom-type emails. Nowadays we communicate thusly:

Me: U OK? Did U get my voicemails? My emails? Would love to hear from U. xoxo, mom

Reply: Silence, but for the sound of crickets chirping.

Me: Did U get my letter? The postcard? The note I tacked to your front door when you didn't answer the doorbell? Concerned, so please call. Luv, mom

Reply: Silence, but for the sound of crickets chirping.

Me: WHERE R U?!? Worried sick! Call your mother!

Reply: Silence, but for the sound of crickets chirping.

Then, finally, one of them sent me the following text:

Kid: Need to borrow $100. Have no gas in car, so can you bring it? Today? Will give U my laundry to take home with U. Don't like laundromat and have rock concert tickets for Saturday, which is usual laundry day. Will pick up clean clothes Sunday, if I have gas in car. If not, can you deliver it? Before 6? Have a date, need a clean shirt. Thanks, mom! xoxo

Me: Silence, but for the sound of crickets chirping.

Yep, payback is heck.

Email Cathy Drinkwater Better at

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