My Evolution….Technically Speaking

michelle's evolutionThe only phone in the house was located on the kitchen wall and my sister and I would race to be the one who answered. It was always a surprise to see who was on the other end. The worst thing was when the phone stopped ringing before we made it because we spent the rest of our day wondering who called and blaming each other for not making it in time. In hopes they would call back, we would camp out in the kitchen. Back then, I remember guessing that it could only be one of about ten people who called.

When I finally received a phone call, I would be trapped in the kitchen by this tiny spiral cord. As I grew older, the cord grew longer until I could pretty much travel throughout our 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch while talking on the phone. It was very liberating. Then the phone changed from a rotary dial to a touch tone phone. State of the art! And we added a few phones throughout the house. It was sort of a necessity because more people called.

When we moved in to our 3 bedroom 2 ½ bath split-level, we upgraded to a CORDLESS. We only needed one since it was…cordless. I felt FREE! I could walk out into the garage, sit on the front porch and even venture into the backyard before the static would kick in.

michelle bag phoneAt my first job after college, my boss handed me this device called a pager or beeper. He said it was so he could “page” me if he needed me. Huh, I figured out it would just take me a long time to find a pay phone, but one day he handed me this phone in a bag and said I could use this to call him when he paged me. He said the phone came with 30 free minutes and after the free minutes, I had to pay. But, he paged me so much that didn’t work. So, we began speaking in code on the pager. Certain numbers had certain meanings and sometimes you could turn the pager upside down and actually see a word.

Later, I traded that bag phone for one installed in my car with this really cool feature called “hands free”. I thought I was so cool! I would drive down the road with my pager beeping, I would dial in a number, hit send and then talk out into my car. Wow!

Unfortunately, that cool factor was short lived when Motorola introduced the new flip phone which, of course, I had to have. It was the size of a brick, but very convenient. It went everywhere I went. With my pager (which kept getting smaller and smaller in size until it finally disappeared) and flip phone, you could reach me 24/7.

I will never forget the first time I saw a fax machine. It was the size of a 4-chair kitchen table and took up an entire closet in our office. However, over time, it became smaller and smaller and smaller until one day, it just incorporated itself into our printer/copier. Then our fax/printer/copier was upgraded with a scanner. The scanner was the death of the fax machine.

Computers are a blur to me…how they evolved so quickly. I have to wonder if this is how my grandparents may have felt about radio and television. I remember learning about the cathode ray tube in my Computer 101 class. I remember the computer lab housed approximately 20 computers the size of large moving boxes and exerted so much heat that you had to sit in a bathing suit to avoid heat exhaustion. As these systems evolved they grew smaller and smaller until they were suitable for home use.

I paid $1700 for my first home computer system. It came with this really neat feature where you plug it in a phone jack and included one month’s free service to an internet service provider called America Online. I remember the exhilarating feeling I had when I first heard the funny tone the machine made as it was connecting to America Online. Within hours I completed the set-up for my first email address, entered the world of online chat rooms and for the first time heard the infamous words…”You’ve got mail”. How ironic those words are, for they were the onset of death for letters you received in your outdoor mail box.

Today, I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a laptop the size of a school notebook writing content for our company blog. I’m wireless so I can jump online to do a bit of research, while my outlook pops up a little side window with a preview of incoming emails. My Blackberry is sitting next to me just in case you Facebook, tweet, email, text or call me. As I read back over what I have written, I LOL (which, by the way, are acronyms we now speak in) in amazement of how I have evolved…technically speaking.

I would like to think it is by choice that I embraced all of this change, but I truly believe it’s just the timing of my generation. It all happened so fast that it was necessary to embrace it. Think about this, it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners and television 13 years to reach 50 million watchers. I’m sure some of our grandparents watched this process in astonishment. Yet, most of us (my generation), watched the internet evolve and reach 50 million users over a four year period, witnessed 50 million people becoming iPod owners and while we were updating our Facebook statuses the site added 100 million users in less than 9 months, reaching 350 million active users since it’s launch in February 2004.

If you’re of a different generation and mentality when it comes to embracing technology, specifically social media, let me just say, this is no fad. It will only evolve like vinyl records have evolved into downloadable files purchased online from a music website. If you are one of those people who said you would never have an email address, back in the day, look at you now. It’s a fundamental way in how you communicate. If you think social media won’t be, you are wrong. Much like brushing your teeth and checking your email, it will become a daily walk in your life. It will be much easier if you embrace it now and evolve with it over time.