The Quiet of the Pasture / by Thea Lux

I get irrationally angry every time iTunes makes an update. What could they possibly be changing now? It means I have to learn something new and there’s a chance I might not be able to learn it. This constantly happens. When I was in film school, we edited on a program that by the time I graduated was already out of date.

I feel the world is moving very fast. Words of others flood my newsfeed saying the things I wish I could say eloquently. If I do participate in the conversation, by the time I formulate my opinion and craft my thoughtful response, there’s something new that’s broken in the world that needs commenting on.

I sometimes feel like my voice doesn’t need to be a part of the conversation all the time. Or anymore. It’s tiring. I don’t know if I care if my voice is heard. Does it even matter if another voice is thrown into the mix? Yes, in a sense. Voices, ideas, insights cause change. Eventually. And as much as I like to cozy up on the couch in my Snuggie of Cynicism, I do think things are changing for the better. But it’s fast. And it’s noisy.

I worked at the Apple Store during the second iPhone launch. Before the launch, my eye twitched for an entire week from stress. The whole thing sucked as much as you think it would. Lines started way before I arrived and would wrap around the building. I hid in the store's bathroom a lot to avoide the sales floor.

After the initial flurry of consumerism died down, a man his 50s came into the store, pushed in his wheelchair by his caregiver. He wanted to buy an iPhone to text with his sons. He also had Parkinson’s. Real bad. His hands convulsed as if he was cursed to constantly be shooing away flies.

Now this is before the iPhone had Siri. Reluctantly I did what I did with every customer. I demo’d the phone. I hoped maybe I was wrong, that he would be able to use this phone, but I couldn’t find the way to tactfully say, “This isn’t the right phone for you. I’m sorry. Technology doesn’t care that you can’t use it.”

I demoed the phone.

Here is Safari. Swipe.

Here is Mail. Swipe.

Here is Text. Swipe.

Here is the Keyboard. Click.

I handed him the phone.

Safari.

His hands shook.

I helped him open Safari.

Text.

His hands shook.

I helped him open text.

Keyboard.

One finger attempted to battle his tremors and type on the keyboard while I held the phone steady. A garbled message of “Hi” auto-corrected to another incorrect word. I spent an hour with him until my emotions got the best of me. I asked a manager to relieve me and I went and cried in the bathroom. I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t heal him. Computer technology was faster than medical technology.

[The man bought the phone. But he came in a few days later to return it--I can’t fully remember if this is something my brain is recalling correctly or not.}

Do we really need to keep up? Is there a time where we technologically put ourselves out to pasture and yell at kids to keep off our lawn (from that pasture)? Or is technology just going to do it for us. “Keep up, or you don’t get to participate anymore.”

I like the quiet of the pasture.