Last Christmas it really hit home to me how technology has become an important part of our everyday lives. Im a baby boomer but have had a life-long love affair with innovation and new technology.
My wife and 16-year-old daughter live in Singapore and we have a 23-year-old daughter who has graduated from university and now works in Perth.
One of the things that was always precious to me was opening the Christmas presents with the family, but now that we are spread over different countries, the warm and treasured family get togethers are more difficult to achieve.
Last Christmas we used technology to help bring us together, even though we were far apart. We used the VOIP telephone service Skype, to do a video call to Australia, so our daughter back in Perth could talk to us and watch as we unwrapped the presents she had sent. We exchanged Christmas greetings, warm smiles and laughter. Not quite the same as being together in the same room, but close. Watching her delighted face on the laptop screen was wonderful. And we all thoroughly enjoyed being together.
Ive since regularly used our laptop, equipped with a web cam, to virtually attend family gatherings back home, and even my 89-year-old mother, God bless her, has enjoyed our regular video conferences, even though she has a healthy aversion to modern day gadgets. She still hasnt quite mastered the use of a computer mouse, but I admire her for trying.
I remember when techno-critics claimed that the internet was going to isolate people and that surfing the web would create lonely, sad individuals who spent many hours avoiding human company. I believe technology can also bring people together and help maintain warm family relationships and more. Just check how many people get married now after they met over the internet in cyberspace.
My 16-year-old daughter regularly teaches me new generational lessons. Last year I traveled back to Perth, but she couldnt come because she had school in Singapore. Never-the-less, my daughter wanted some new shoes, because Singapore stores seem to have problems providing big sizes. But how was I going to know what shoes to buy? Easy, said my daughter, giving me a look that said I came from the stone age, You just go to the shop, pick some shoes you think Id like, and take a photo of them with your mobile phone camera. You can them MMS (Multimedia Message Service) the photo back to me in Singapore, and I will SMS you to tell you if I like them. Obvious, if you have lived and breathed technology since you were born, but I would not have thought of if. And, sure enough, I carried out instructions and found some shoes that my daughter now loves to wear.
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