Friday, August 24, 2012

Technology and the Teen

You should have great sympathy for my teen daughter. As she frequently reminds us, she has the oldest laptop in our family. Here's what I'm tempted to say ...

"You think your laptop is old? You should have seen mine when I was your age! Oh wait, you couldn't have because laptops weren't invented yet!!!"

Or, more to the greater point ...

"Wah, wah, wah! Your life is so hard, you should call Social Services. Here, I'll dial for you."

The thing is, my daughter contributes the least (as in nothing) to our household's financial well-being. In fact, she is a savings succubus. While she deposits zilch, she withdraws beaucoup. Her cost of living is arguably the highest of anyone in the family. Not to mention the cost of living of her horse! Neither my husband nor myself has a hobby as expensive as hers, let me tell you.

Her laptop is F-I-N-E. Fine, fine, fine. In fact, until two years ago, I ran a successful ad agency from it. When I upgraded, it became hers. And, as I'd like to remind her, she was ecstatic about it at the time. In fact, if memory serves, she was extremely pleased with it for at least three or four weeks.

Then came the lure of the new, the call of the upgrade, the siren song that emanates from that temple of technology ... the Apple Store.

It doesn't matter why, when or for how long we are at the mall. When we walk by that glowing retail cube, time seems to stop. My daughter, who generally walks at a quick clip, lingers and meanders. She continues our conversation, but in a slow, liquid way like a somnambulist. Her eyes never leave that big rainbow apple.

Don't get me wrong. I also like the Apple Store with its clean lines, post-mod white space, and free WiFi. Really, I have loitered there more than once in between meetings in order to check email or review ads online. Much more reliable than the Starbucks in the same mall. Best of all, the Apple Store has those helpful "geniuses." There's nothing like getting advice from someone half my age with twice as many piercings.

And, they also have many many laptops.

For once, however, I'm holding my ground. Like it or not, a new laptop is simply not in the budget right now. My poor daughter is stuck with her four-year-old PowerBook. (It's practically an antique!) We are going to install a new version of Microsoft Office to get her all set for high school, but the hardware stays.

Am I making a huge mistake? With my luck, here's what will probably happen. She will flunk out of her freshman year of high school and have to build a career for herself in the wonderful world of fast food. She will be the only almost fifteen-year-old in town, in the state, in the country — nay, in the world itself — who has to wait ten seconds for YouTube to load. She will be ostracized by her peers, wind up friendless and homeless, and go postal one day at the local Best Buy.

Or, maybe she'll grow up and write a blog about how terribly terribly terrible her childhood was. Oprah will find it and make it an overnight multimedia sensation. Bravo will create one of its oh-so-unrealistic reality shows in which my daughter (now, tearfully reunited with her penitent mum) visits other spoiled suburban high school teens to commiserate. We will be rich, rich, rich and famous. 

Then, and only then, my darling daughter can buy as many shiny, new laptops as her heart desires.

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