Maybe it’s a joke and maybe it’s not, but I occasionally get notes from people reminding me that 1996 is over, and it’s time to toss most of the computers I own into the rubbish bin.
And of course, I ignore them, mostly because the people who write them are obviously juveniles (their inability to type in words longer than two or three letters is usually a clue), or just hoping for an equally acid response. But I’ve worked with enough trolls to know not to feed them, so those notes usually go straight to the electronic graveyard.
The last one, just within this past day, included a link to this rather snotty article on msn.com, reminding the world that things like fax machines and CB radios — along with any sort of disk drive, which is probably why it was sent to me — are not only obsolete, but very uncool.
At the outset, I have to warn you that I am impervious to the slur “uncool.” I wear boring, uninteresting clothes to work each day that I got from boring, uninteresting sales in boring, uninteresting shops, and I did that on purpose because I have my own philosophies on cool … and they go beyond the computers I work with.
Additionally, I expect a flimsy, pretend “news” site like msn.com to resound with advice on what new junk you should be buying, and reminding you how antiquated your year-old dual core machine is. Microsoft needs to shout that at you repeatedly, because if it can’t convince you to buy a new machine every six months, it won’t make any money. Horrors.
But all obvious shortcomings aside — and also acknowledging that I don’t know Dan Tynan from Adam — I don’t see that it matters how “old” any particular technology is, so long as you are satisfied using it to do the job. Mr. Tynan’s snide comments about typewriters or turntables are completely meaningless to the people who prefer those devices, and no amount of heckling will convince them otherwise.
(And as a piece of advice, the next time you want to heckle someone for using a typewriter, it might be better not to single out someone as successful as Cormac McCarthy. It doesn’t do much for your argument.)
The bottom line is this: Mr. Tynan — or any modern tech pop writer, for that matter — can giggle all he wants about Western Union telegrams or instant cameras, but chances are the people who use those things don’t really care what Mr. Tynan or his friends think. They use them because they do the job, and because they’re happy with them.
And that’s the way the world should work, really. I say so long as the technology works, and you’re comfortable using it, then go forth and pursue happiness and freedom in any way possible. Ride a bicycle to work. Write a letter with a pen. Talk face to face with your neighbor — all those things are quite obsolete too, I should think.
The fact is, if you stop worrying about the technology you use for the job, you can spend more time focusing on the job. And if the job is anything at all that you remotely enjoy, then it won’t matter to you what technology you use. And the same goes for floppy disks, which I still have lots and lots of … and use with surprising frequency.