When exactly did the telephone stop being a telephone?
We experience this remarkable metamorphosis process, which fills us with awe... Well, one can still use this instrument for making a call and receiving one, but this is now a completely marginal function… Now our cell phones can transform themselves into computers, file cabinets, cameras, mail boxes, picture galleries, and other countless disguises. I own one of those clever telephones – if I may still call it a telephone – I received it from the company where I asked a young woman for a telephone without fringes:
“All I want is to make calls, receive calls, and oh, maybe a list of telephone numbers of my family members and closest friends!”
The young lady looked at me as if I would have landed from another planet.
“Don’t you want to take a photo sometimes?” she asked.
“OK, show me how to take a photo, I conceded but no more!”
Great and fast changes happened to the telephone, but I won’t let it faze me, although I must admit being just a bit envious when I see other people performing magic with an instrument which was initially meant for distance communication.
So I am electronically ignorant. But not as much as my friend Ilana. She phoned me last week:”
“My alarm clock fell down and broke,” she tells me. “I immediately went out and bought a new one. Of course it was accompanied by instructions and I’ll read to you from the instructions leaflet which says:
“While pressing the alarm/display cancel button, set the desired alarm time on the clock display by pressing the time set button. When you set the hour set- button simultaneously while pressing the alarm/display/cancel button, the clock returns to 12.00. If you press the sleep button, the seconds will also appear. At this time the clock display changes from hours and minutes to minutes and seconds…Lucca please you are computer literate,” Ilana continues, “do you understand all that?”
Is she kidding?
I asked her to repeat all of it while I took it all down in shorthand. I will try to find someone wise enough who may be of help.
15 years ago when I found my way through the internet I was admired endlessly by friends and relatives. Truth is my knowledge hasn’t improved in those 15 years... Every time I sit down in front of the computer I wonder if I face friend or foe.
More often than not the computer wants to demonstrate its superiority and then I press keys and buttons at random without getting anywhere. So I have to make use of my secret weapon, I call my son in Frankfurt.
As soon as he enters my computer, his, or rather, my cursor jumps crazily from one place to the other, and before I know it my problem is solved. I am full of admiration at how clever he is, and I force my memory back to when I used to teach him things before he started to teach me.
But then my admiration veers back to myself and I remind myself that it was I who brought this guy into the world with all his talents for computers and salsa dancing.
He will always remain one of my two greatest accomplishments!
A few days ago I caused a sensation at the reception desk. I was handed a handwritten letter written by a long-forgotten friend who lives in Switzerland.
People around me looked at what I held in my hand, and one neighbor exclaimed:
“Look, look, Lucca’s got a letter, a real letter with two stamps on it! All the letters I get are from Visa, the bank, or the insurance office!! I’d love to get a real letter one day!” She sounded really wistful and sad.
Maybe I’ll share my letter with her, it’s long enough, 11 and a half pages!