It wasn't the first time something like this happened to me. It's sort of like waking up after a long day of international travel - the kind of to-the-bone-exhausting travel where a twenty hour flight and a few hours in a hotel leaves me literally lost when I wake up that first morning. Instantly... the whole world is different.
Today, I received an email with a Word doc attachment, a strategy white paper it was. I printed it out and began scanning for words that might make me want to read it. So, upon reaching the bottom of the first of four pages, I, no kidding, put my finger on the last paragraph and swiped upward. Nothing happened, it was paper!!!
I up-swiped a printed document. My brain woke up in a foreign place. To make things worse, my first reaction when the toner didn't move was, "what the heck....?" As if I should reboot the recycled printer paper.
I've been rewired. It actually took a few seconds for me to laugh about it. I recently wrote something out with a ball-point pen and after reversing the "i-before-e" thing for the thousandth time, I was perturbed that the note didn't spell check itself and auto-correct. I thought about backspacing and deleting. I've reached out and touched a TV screen to make a DVD play. I caught myself on the way to the radio dial in the car to bookmark a song that was playing on FM.
My devices are defining me. On the rare occasion that I take a check, I "deposit" it with my phone's camera. Recently I left a meeting that I'd navigated to with a mobile GPS. It occurred to me that if my phone battery sputtered out during the meeting, I would have been utterly lost due to my fly-by-wire arrival. I honestly had no clue where I was; getting there was a mixture of staying on the road while my phone literally talked me in to the meeting to within two minutes and six feet of perfect accuracy.
My tablet tells me how to dress for the weather it's constantly watching and proudly boasting about. At dinner the other night an argument broke out over how a 5-star restaurant's menu would list a gourmet recipe for rabbit. When Wikipedia and Google both fell down on the job, my demand for instant truth drove me to an old school technology - I called my dad on the phone and texted my brother to get the answer.
My expectation that everything I ever watched on television as a kid is only two clicks away on YouTube was absolutely crushed when I couldn't find "Pope Brad" from Michael Nesmith's collection of short, whacky films. What's the world coming to???
I used to think these little glowing screens and lick-able icons were a marvel of usefulness. The truth is, I can't get them out of my head. The real disappointment earlier tonight wasn't that my paper wouldn't swipe, it was that I'd forgotten momentarily how to turn a page. So in this new world in which I find myself, nothing is changed really... but everything is different.
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