Yikes, OK computer, … this has actually come up in a few different conversations this past week. As a therapist, I support people within a wide age range. Sometimes I see older adults and elementary aged kids in the same day! And sometimes the topics that come up are eerily similar with wildly different perspectives.
Some of my kids and teens think it’s so interesting, and probably pretty weird, that I remember a time where there was no internet. I guess computers have always been around all my life but they weren’t like a household item when I was growing up. In fact, I remember sitting way too close to the TV with my multiplication table game in hand pretending it was a keyboard and monitor. It was a dream to have a computer.
I often bond with those slightly older than me over stuff like this but, once they realize most of my life has been lived post Y2K, they usually also think I’m some kind of tech genius. I gently remind them that I may have been an internet kid, but I still drove around without cell phones and GPS for a concerning amount of time. And then we’re back to relating.
The answer to this prompt, “Your life without a computer: what does it look like?”, would produce several different conversations depending on who I was seeing that day. My little Gen Z friends think it’s so cool that I grew up in the disposable camera age and wish they could have too. Every single time I hear this I have to remind them that it’s only cool because digital cameras are a now thing. When I explain the cringing experience of waiting two weeks to be able to see how you looked in that outfit at that party, they’re like “whoa that’s insane”. Yes, kid. yes it is. I’m eternally grateful for the anxiety relief that came with the advent of digital photography.
My older crowd is often super fearful and cautious of technology even if they are fully capable of using it. And I get that. I was recently reminded by someone that this is mostly because early technology was very fragile. And expense. You didn’t just go out and buy a tech product and start mashing random buttons. Even the most ADHD of us (diagnosed and undiagnosed) knew we had to at least skim the instructions and owner’s manual to even know where to begin, and more importantly, so we didn’t break it. Now we buy a computer and just push the power button and go. It seems like it would be easier now, and it certainly is, but a world where you get started by just playing around with random buttons still totally freaks a lot of us out.
All this to be said, for me, everything that comes into my head in response to this question is comes back to “I would survive”. Which puts it eerily close to the same thought category as food, shelter, and water. Yikes. But luckily I’ve lived in a world without computers so I know it could be done. I know I won’t die if my cell phone crashes or if the internet is down, and I guess that’s comforting. It’s like being at my grandparents house as a kid, certainly a little boring but not totally not doable.