Technology Literacy Narrative: The Past

As a child, I had an overactive imagination and a lack of patience.

I was lucky in that I was always surrounded by toys. From a cramped little apartment in suburban California, I could spirit myself away into magical worlds that I have long since forgotten with props and building blocks or mimic my parents as they navigated their adult lives with a plastic steering wheel for toddlers, a plastic rotary telephone and a clamshell plastic laptop- complete with a QWERTY keyboard, arrow keys and a very rudimentary touchpad that let me choose and navigate one of eight simplistic black and white computer games.

My treatment and use of the toy computer as a young child was perhaps indicative of how I would come to view technology over the next few years. For I loved that toy computer as a child. I loved the feeling of the keys and the way they clacked as I typed. But I couldn’t stand the simplistic beeps and the lagging graphics that wouldn’t be uncommon on a TI-84 calculator mod that some kids would use to sneak video games into class during high school.

photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/TI-84_Portal.jpg

As I grew older, I came to sit on my dad’s lap as he typed up reports for his job and watched in awe as words and calculations flew across the screen, and as he noticed my interest in technology growing, he got me my first computer game. I watched in awe as the 3D graphics brought Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends to life, and gradually, I grew bored and tired as I realized there was little I could do besides replay the same old mini games again and again.

Time passed. The toy laptop and my other playthings were eventually thrown away and I was tossed into notebooks, reading and writing. My family moved to another state, and I was not to have another major encounter with technology until fourth grade, when we were sat in front of a computer and taught how to use PowerPoint and UltraKey in our first technology class.

photo credit: https://www.bytesoflearning.com/ultrakey_mug_shot.jpg

I found technology to be both strange and frustrating as we made trivia games out of button functions in PowerPoint and learned how to place images.  I remember clumsily learning commands like copy-pasting that I do by reflex now, and struggling to resize photos, and struggling to remember the different short cuts for each. I remember struggling to keep up with the typing speeds of my fellow students in UltraKey and remembering how I hated not being able to keep up with the speed of my own thoughts as I could if I scribbled down my words and images on a piece of paper.

It was around this time that my parents bequeathed a hand-me-down cell phone and their old laptop for my own personal use. I first used it to set up a personal email account that I still use to this day and more importantly, my very first blog. Although I look back on the fun I had building and writing for that site, I cringe at the poor writing that it suffered from and at the old media conventions I littered my posts with, insisting on calling each one an “episode”.  It was then that I was first exposed to YouTube, in its slow grainy glory.

Unfortunately, the wonder and the fun I had learning about the technology was always hampered by my consciousness of the technology’s limitations. Everything was slow, and in the case of my old cell phone, texting was cumbersome. I lost all motivation to continue learning more and keeping up with technological advances as time went on because the graphics and capabilities could not keep up with my overactive imagination or my thoughts, and all social aspects

It was only in the last days of middle school and the beginning of high school, when I received a pristine new laptop to replace the coughing, wheezing dying wails of the old Lenovo I had used for years and when I was finally officially old enough to sign up for social networks and to communicate with the few friends I had and to establish new ones in the electronic pen pals I met both in person and across the different media that I began to be enthralled by technology again.

And that brings us to the present day, where technology has become my lifeline to my many valuable friends, my primary source of entertainment and something that I have become quite reliant on.