You are cooler than me

One writer takes a nap, wakes up in another era

Who knew <i>Oklahoma!</i> wasn’t the <i>High School Musical</i> they meant?

Who knew Oklahoma! wasn’t the High School Musical they meant?

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Ginny McReynolds, a longtime Sacramento City College teacher and now dean of humanities and social science at Cosumnes River College

I used to be hip. Really. I could describe verbatim every skit from SNL, program my VCR, drive a stick shift and score more than 300 on electronic Yahtzee. Even if I didn’t always wear 501s, I didn’t own “mom jeans,” and I knew exactly when to throw out my striped polyester shirts with the white collars and cuffs. But, as a saying as outdated as I am goes, “That was then and this is now.”

Suddenly, as if I took a brief nap only to awaken in another era, I am as obsolete as the VHS tapes and hard-cover photo albums that line my bookcases. Oh, I have a digital camera, and I’ve taken several pictures with it, but I can only see them in the tiny viewer on my camera, because I have no idea how to download them to anything. It’s one thing to ask my secretary to print a file sent from another office, because I can pretend that it’s her job to do so. But asking my best friend’s 10-year-old to change the wallpaper on my cell phone just seems sad.

I have become so quickly overwhelmed by technology that it is even affecting my work. Last week, during a telephone conference call, I found myself shouting, as if I had to make myself heard all the way to Los Angeles. I still hate to fax, because I can’t figure out how it works, and when someone tells me to clean up my desktop, I start dusting my paperweights. While it seems like only yesterday that I knew all the words to every song on the Beatles’ White Album, today I couldn’t pick out the Pussycat Dolls in a lineup. Just yesterday, I saw at least three people wearing what I think were those very same polyester shirts I tossed out the year Saturday Night Fever went to VHS.

It’s hard to admit it, but I think my days of being in the know are probably over. I don’t Twitter, Skype, Flickr, Sudoku or Kindle; refolding a map seems easier than using GPS; I don’t watch American Idol or The Biggest Loser, I don’t buy things from eBay on my iPhone, and my pictureless Facebook page lists me as having “no friends” because I don’t know how to get them. I don’t skateboard, snowboard or boogie board, and I still have to use a cheat sheet when I recycle. Just listing these things makes me feel a little like I’m clawing at the edge of the 21st century with press-on nails, but I know I need to count my blessings.

As the world fills quickly with folks who are cooler than me, those of us who know how to write a letter without signing it “luv u,” who think of Oklahoma! when we hear the words High School Musical and who realize “TV dinner” isn’t synonymous with the regular meal you eat at night might just end up being the true pioneers in the social world.