Mom of a Slob understands basic needs
Though often mistaken as being hopelessly addicted to all things tech, your typical Digital Slob actually has quite a discerning, if cybernetically enhanced, eye.
For a Slob to embrace a gadget, it must make life more fun or less annoying, more simple or less nerve-racking. By contrast, our arch enemies, Respectable People, will put up with the opposite traits in any tech tool as long as it makes them more "productive." Thus, they swear by Excel as much as we worship TiVo.
Still, every Slob knows you can get too much of a good thing. And like a 5-year-old who's eaten an entire batch of candy apples, when our gastrointestinal system overdoses on the 21st century, we instinctively run home to Mom for relief.
And it was on such a recent trip to my childhood home (i.e., digital decompression chamber) that I learned how much Mom and I have in common when it comes to filtering common annoyances out of our daily lives. We might disagree on matters of taste, but we believe in our inalienable right to fill our plates with nothing but what we want.
On the flight home I stowed a satchel full of gadgets holding the Digital Age equivalent of Polaroids under my seat, chronicling the many interesting characters and vistas that dot my life in a land far, far away. Sure, these same images were e-mailed instantly to my pen pal in a remote region of Russia months ago, but my mom still requires hand delivery.
Once jet lag and those lines on my face that the pillow makes when I'm really tired had faded, I sat down with her on the couch and opened my goody bag. This is when it hit me: Mom and I are equally set in our media habits.
She negotiates the buttons on my Archos 604 media player with the same tentative fear most of us would employ on the control panel of the space shuttle.
She treated my 10-minute YouTube home movie with the same feigned interest I displayed for a gift of tube socks on Christmas Day 1979.
She has no tolerance for indefinite uploading and downloading times. Three seconds after I double-clicked a video link, she asked me if I wanted some scrambled eggs. Actually, this makes sense -- she'll wait until 6:30 every night for "Wheel of Fortune," but she never has to wait one second more. If she does, you can bet she'll be on the phone with the local TV affiliate.
She derides the local paper for never getting the kickoff/tipoff/ tee times right on her favorite sports programs, but she keeps subscribing, anyway. Newspaper stockholders will definitely miss her when she's gone.
She refuses to get a digital video recorder because she doesn't want a box atop her big-screen TV that disrupts the room's aesthetic. Also, recording your TV shows automatically so you can then go out and address life's other priorities is only stress-relieving for those who still have other priorities.
In conclusion, I went home thinking Mom was stuck in her old-fashioned ways. But I came back realizing that all she wants out of any gizmo is what she's always had -- and in at least some cases, that means it's the Digital Age that's still behind the times.