In a phone conversation with my youngest son Josh back when he was in college, I asked if he’d gotten his computer repaired. 

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, “but I rarely ever take it to class with me.  My phone will do everything I need for class.  Mom, do you realize that my phone can do much more than our first computer could?”

He was right, too.  People walking around with laptop computers used to be a common sight.  Now everyone seems to have a tablet or a smart phone.  Phones can deposit a check for you without your ever stepping into the bank.  They can find your location when you’re lost and give you directions.  Phones take you to Facebook, the world’s front porch, and let you keep up with your friends.  If some of your friends talk a bit over your head, your phone can define words for you.  The entire concept dumbfounds me.  The phones belonging to the younger members of our family even several years ago could do just about everything except wash the dishes. They were just complicated minicomputers that fit nicely in a shirt pockets.

It took Larry and me a while to come into the new century—Josh’s terminology, not mine.  Before 20011, I did not own or want a smart phone.  My computer was quite sufficient for my needs.  My cell phone and Larry’s made calls, sent texts, and took messages.  Imagine that.  That’s all we needed them to do. Things have changed somewhat since then.  For Mother’s Day that year, Josh gave me a smart phone and said, “Welcome to the new century, Mother, dear.”

I fail to see how people get along without being computer savvy these days, whether the computer they use is a smart phone or something else.  I now embrace the computer age we live in.  It’s convenient.  So much information awaits a simple signal from our fingertips.  Larry came in last week in his work clothes and headed for his computer.

“What are you doing?” I asked.  “I thought you were working on my windshield wipers.”

“I am,” he replied, “but I had to come ask Mr. Google a question about installing the new wiper motor. Mr. Google knows a lot more than I do. Of course Larry could have just whipped his smart phone out of his pocket for the same information, but he wanted a glass of peach tea to aid his search.” 

We agree that this clever gentleman—Mr. Google, that is--knows just about anything we need to know.  I asked him all kinds of canning and freezing questions this summer, and he replied instantly, not only with words and pictures, but also with recipes.  He explains words that I don’t understand and helps me find good books, as well as the best prices on those books.  If I have a new malady, which I often do at my age, I just tell Mr. Google my symptom and he suggests remedies or doctors.  He’s an amazing man.  How did I ever survive before we got together?  If only he’d been available during my college years. 

I enjoy my computer and all the gateways it provides, but I realize too that danger lurks therein.   We must be wary of scam artists and false claims.  Aside from the identity theft that we hear so much about, a variety of internet mischief exists out there.   Take, for example, all the online schools and universities that have popped up in the last few years.  Many of them are legitimate and I’m not criticizing them by any means, but there are some things we still need to learn by experience.  I saw an ad today for an online electrician’s school.  If someone is coming to my house to work on my wiring, I really want a person who’s done a few electrical jobs before, not someone who has a brand-new degree via the computer.  What about nurses, doctors, plumbers, mechanics, etc.?  How comfortable would we be if they had online degrees? 

How many of us can imagine our world today without computers, be they in our phones or sitting on our desktops?  If the internet ever crashed worldwide, we’d be in serious trouble from sea to shining sea and across the seas, too.  We’ve become totally dependent.  I pray that that day never comes.