The first time I heard the term FaceBook (FB), I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about . . . I heard them say something about “writing on the wall” and that troubled me. People with rental property get nervous about writing on the wall . . .
I turned 61 in December and have come to realize that I am fast approaching the “old man phase of life.” I am amazed at how quickly technology has changed everything around me. With the announcement that FB would issue an IPO today and the buzz surrounding it, it caused me to reflect on how I have been exposed to the new technology. It was a surprise to me that I kind of understood what it was about since I just so happen to be a FaceBook dude now.
My first encounter with the new technology was with a PC. Of course, PC’s have been around long enough now that I am about the only person I know who still considers it new technology. I have used a PC for about 10 years, but only as a typewriter. I made more mistakes and exhausted everyone around me just trying to do simple things with the PC. Just in the past few months I have actually used a PC program for something other than e-mail or simply typing a letter or document.
Then, came the cell phone. I was one of the last to actually get one. I had to have my kids show me how to use the thing. I sure didn’t know how to retrieve a “voicemail.” But over time and use, I adapted.
Next, I bought a car that was equipped with OnStar. The car salesman pushed pretty hard to get me to subscribe. I remember having Sandy with me in that car a few days after buying it. We were going to see my Mom for Christmas. As we drove down the interstate highway, I was flirting with her and being a little frisky. She slapped my hand a couple of times and reminded me we were adults and we were in public. After a while, I thought about the OnStar and said, “Let me show you how this thing works.” I punched the button and we heard the connection being made. In a moment, a gentleman answered and thanked me for using OnStar and asked how he might help. I explained that I had my wife in the car and it was the first time she had ridden in it and I wanted to show off OnStar. He said, “Let me unlock your car doors for you to show her some of the things we can do.” In just a moment the locks popped open. She was surprised (I was too – I didn’t know they could do that!). He then went over a list of services OnStar offered and things they could do for their subscribers. She was quite impressed. As we began to wind down the conversation, the OnStar guy said, “Before we end the conversation, I just want to tell Mrs. Melton what a lovely necklace she is wearing.” I looked over at her and saw that she was near shock and breathing hard. I asked, “What’s wrong.” She fluttered her eyes and said, “That guy saw you trying to paw me a few minutes ago!” I tried, to no avail, to explain that he was just joking and pulling her chain — reminding her that it was Christmas and that 99% of all women in the USA were wearing a necklace that morning. She wasn’t having any of it. I think she still believes that OnStar can see us when we are in the car.
Next came the wireless internet connection (what they told me was “hi speed”). That change came about because the kids were ashamed of us for being on “dial up.” Chris once told me, “Dad, ya’ll are probably the last people in Texas still on dial up.” It didn’t bother me too much, but Sandy changed it over. I am not sure that I ever would have changed. That became a source of irritation for me for a while because it was new and different.
A couple of years ago, Courtney was visiting for a few days. She told her mom, “Let’s go to Corpus for the day and hang out.” While they were there, she took her mom to AT & T and got each of us an iPhone. I came home from work and said, “Hey, someone needs to call Sprint and tell them my phone is not working.” They explained that I had been switched over to AT&T and presented me with my new iPhone. I was not very happy. This thing was really complicated. I finally adjusted, but it took a few months. I still think that that old flip phone was probably worth something, but they argued that it was outdated and without resale value as no one wanted to buy them.
At Christmas 2010, they gave me an iPad as a gift. That thing nearly drove me nuts, but after many struggles and learning sessions with Courtney and phone calls to her, I have come to like the thing. They set me up with my own FB account and told me that I could write on people’s walls too. I have learned how to use FB some and find that I do like writing on people’s wall. However, I still wish they would change that term.
Then they gave me an iPod. My kids went to a lot of trouble and effort to download a bunch of oldies music. I mean really good stuff — like “When a Man Loves a Woman” kind of stuff. I really like it, but I rarely think about using it. I will pull in the driveway at home after a long trip and it will occur to me, “Hey you could have listened to some great music . . . ”
So, this whiz kid, Mark Zuckerberg, sitting in his dorm eight years ago came up with this notion about FB (I understand that there is some debate about the truth of that) and now, he instantly becomes a gazallionaire. I read a projection this morning that FB will raise over $18B with its IPO, and will be worth over $100B. It is estimated that FB will be the 23rd largest company on the S & P Index, and that over 900 million people actually use FB. As a contrast, Google raised $1.67B with its IPO in 2004. Isn’t the world both wonderful and crazy?
The mention of Google also brings up the subject of how all of this new technology has impacted the English language. It has us using words that just five years ago we didn’t even know what they meant. In fact, they weren’t even words five years ago. Recently, I saw where Google has become an accepted verb today (e.g. “Hey, I will just Google it.”)
So, I am an old guy, but still trying to stay in the game . . . thanks to my smart kids! I know it hasn’t been easy on them, but I am better for it. Thanks guys! They don’t want their Dad to be a moron!