Outside the box: Young and old-fashioned in a hi-tech world

Four days have been taken off of my life because of a purchase I made last Thursday. I’ve been excited about buying an iPod for quite some time now, and after finally deciding to spend the money, my only priority this weekend was to transfer my CD collection onto the little machine.

But unfortunately, that is not how it happened.

Instead, I spent Friday purchasing and downloading Windows XP. Apparently, the iPod cannot function with Windows 98, which the salesperson at the store forgot to tell me. After saving all of my old files to a disk, answering the seemingly thousands of questions the new download requested and then restarting my computer multiple times, I finally had Windows XP. Now, I thought, I was ready.

Instead, my computer still wanted nothing to do with the iPod software. I spent most of Saturday trying to make sense of the indecipherable messages flashing across my screen. I called Microsoft, I called Apple, I called CompUSA. No one seemed to know what was wrong, and everyone wanted to charge me for the useless advice.

Finally, a friend told me I had to install Service Pack 2, which is the new edition of Windows XP. So I did. That took up most of Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, the iPod software was almost finished installing. This time I got to the point where I was supposed to plug the iPod into the computer before a notice popped up on the screen. Apparently, my USB port (where I plug in the iPod) wasn’t high-powered enough. So I went back to the store, got a better one and tried not to think about the fact that I could have bought another iPod with all the money I was spending trying to get the first one to work.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. Sunday, and all for nothing. I was surrounded by my CDs, my computer and my new iPod, none of which would work together. I had neglected my family, my friends and my dogs for the past three days, and I was on the verge of insanity.

It finally occurred to me that this iPod I had purchased to simplify my life by having all of my music on one small machine had instead caused more problems than I had ever experienced before with a computer.

So I tried to think about all of the ways technology makes my life easier, but I was so jaded by that point, that all I could come up with was the way my cell phone was probably giving me brain cancer, the way my eyes hurt after staring at my computer screen and the way I had just wasted a beautiful weekend by sitting in my house, stressed out about an iPod.

Then I started thinking about the computer industry as a catalyst for our culture’s wasteful ways. The industry changed the way people used to conserve and reuse all of their household appliances (my grandmother still has the refrigerator she bought in 1959) by making it impossible to purchase new items and still use the old computer-and “old” could mean only a matter of months. My one-year-old computer was incompatible with the brand new iPod, and I suddenly realized that my new iPod would probably be outdated by next spring, if not sooner.

And then I realized that I’m outdated as well. I’m 26, and I can’t keep up with the current technological trends. I see 10-year-old children walking around sporting their new iPods, and I can’t even get my computer to turn on. Maybe I’m too old for an iPod. Maybe, with how fast the industry spits out new technology, humans are becoming “old-fashioned” at a younger age.

All I know is that I’m finished with trying to get the iPod to work. I’ve given it to my friend’s daughter to see if she can figure it out, and I’m OK with letting her work with it. It may mean I’m technologically challenged or old-fashioned, but I’ll gladly accept those labels rather than delete another four days from my life.

So if you ever do see me around campus using my new iPod, know that I could never have done it without a certain 9-year-old girl.

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