Baby boomers can remember a pre-technology age

Here’s the understatement of the year: the world is complicated. We point this out because as baby boomers, the world in which we grew up wasn’t. At least not compared to how it is now. And BoomerCafé publisher and co-founder David Henderson in Arlington, Virginia, is fed up with these complications, especially after the latest news about technology actually putting our very identities at risk. He longs for the pre-technology age in which we grew up.

It’s with warm thoughts and a smile that I remember what I call … the halcyon days of pre-technology. I suspect many of you remember too. The days of pre-technology when baby boomers were growing up.

David Henderson

In our house, we had a TV set in the living room that worked sometimes. Never heard of “remote control” or “Bluetooth,” let alone “the Internet of things.” I had an ancient shortwave radio in my room with an antenna tied between my windowsill and the maple tree out in front of our house. I enjoyed listening to broadcasts from far-off places, regardless of language or static. My sister had a small transistor radio. Besides the black telephone that sat on a table in the dining room, that was about the extent of technology in our modest brick house in Arlington, Virginia.

In school, we wrote on something called paper with #2 pencils. I was always struck by the insistence of teachers to make certain we used #2 pencils. They seemed to be obsessed with #2 pencils. The narrow, solid pigment core inside a #2 pencil or any good old-fashioned pencil is called “lead.” It is sort of like charcoal. That was the extent of our world of technology in the 1950s and 1960s.

This is on my mind today as I learn — by reading on my 21.5-inch iMac computer or my iPad tablet or our LG flatscreen television (sans old-fashioned vacuum tubes) — about the vast breach of our personal, financial, and credit data that was hacked and stolen from a credit monitoring company in Atlanta called Equifax. All the personal private data about our lives, GONE. Maybe I missed something in the fine print but I don’t remember giving Equifax or anyone else permission to gather and store it. We did not choose to share every particle of our privacy with any credit agency.

Equifax, in typical corporate behavior, has blamed everyone but themselves for the breach. They blamed Apache, the software company that powers computer servers around the world, but Apache noted that Equifax had not heeded their advice to implement a security software update. Consequently, the insidious hacking. Mind you, Equifax also sold security software so that other companies could safeguard their stuff. That’s laughable and pathetic.

Now, everything about my personal finances, credit, bank accounts, car loans, mortgages, and life is in the hands of… who knows? What’ll they do with it? Again, who knows? When I call Equifax and the other two credit monitoring giants to try to sort things out, I am connected with third-party representatives in Asia who are powerless to help.

The so-called news media only gives the massive hacking of the private information for 143-million Americans a headline mention, and then they quickly return to yelling at each other about politics.

Meantime, my iMac, iPad, and even my Hyundai Sonata need software updates for some reason. Imagine a car needing a software update in order to operate?! Did any of us deliberately sign up for a world in which we need software updates just to get through the day?

I think I will put on my shoes, tie them just like I learned as a kid, and take a walk through a nearby park. Away from prying eyes, spam phone calls, software hacks, and intrusions on my privacy. Or, at least I hope.


  1. You are absolutely right. Today’s tech is actually hurting kids. I am a teacher and a lot of the kids I teach can’t read a book, do simple math (without a calculator) or write a simple short story.
    We were lucky to live in an age where we developed an imagination (like exploring, making up and playing games on an empty lot) and we were physically healthy.
    If I wanted to talk to my best friend, I had to walk over to his house. (and burn some calories in the process)
    It was a great time to be a kid. And technology is killing our ability to do things for ourselves.

    1. Reminds me of a time when I was stationed in the Pentagon. One of my junior officers was working on a project and I asked him for status report. He replied that he was still waiting for some information from another officer. He said he had sent an email but had not received a reply. I suggested that he get off his butt and walk down the hall and talk to this other officer. The guy worked just four doors down.

  2. I agree with you. When I saw/ read about the Equifax hack I was so grateful to have grown up in the 50s and 60s with NO technology.

    I co-owned an Apple computer dealership here in Toronto from 1980-89. When we started it in 1980 there were no fax machines, no cell phones, no internet, only word processors and dot matrix printers. Most of our customers were trading their typewriters for personal computers.

    Microcomputers were invented to do good in the world. Look what happened 🙁

    (I’m glad (bittersweet) now for technology, since I’m disabled and can do my banking etc. online. Though I still use the phone to communicate with others!)

    1. I appreciate your comment. Seems that the original egalitarian ideals and dreams for the Internet have been overshadowed by corporate capitalism in the last three decades. Today, Internet freedom has morphed into somewhat of a political football, at least in America, which is too bad.

  3. Bravo, David! You know how I feel. Thankfully, there is much research whether empirical or anecdotal that indicates the inertia of AI and technology in general will encounter a monumental cultural backlash similar to what occurs in Dave Eggers’ novel, “The Circle”. One of the salient questions is if our morality and tendency to look before we leap because of the allure of gadgetry will be reeled in by a society with its largest populations swelling at under thirty. Will the torch bearers surrender to driverless cars that can be hacked and take over the steering and brakes? Will anyone appreciate nature as it slowly faces the ramifications of our decisions? I recommend reading “The Steel Kiss” by Jeffrey Deaver – that should open more eyes. “What a piece of work is man” – we can be so much better than succumbing to our fancy toys.

  4. We could just blame it all on Al Gore since he invented the Internet. But the real concern is our government they allowed these data mining companies to exist, and gave them access to our personal information. My college ID was my social security number, my Army dog tags are my social security number, we never had any problems than with identity theft. I turned 65 last June on a Tuesday filed on Wednesday for Medicare and on Thursday for VA benefits. Depressing week. Now a year later both my wife and I both 66 get more junk mail, Robo phone calls and spam to our emails than we ever have had. It is obvious to me that the government sells your personal information. Look at your Medicare card, social security number, we I go to the VA Hospital in my area it is in my records. We have no land line and are on two do not call lists, the Federal and our State. Makes no difference the Robo calls come constantly. So we have no one to blame but ourselves, we elect those that are supposed to secure or laws. But we get there greed instead.

    1. Steve, there are several apps for smartphones that block robocalls. HiYa is the one I use on Android, and I’m sure there are ones for iPhones. Mine works well; I get maybe half a ring and it’s blocked.

  5. When I was a kid we rigged a string with a can on each end between my window and my best friend’s window next door to talk. We replaced the string with a wire and electronics and upgraded to morse code. We didn’t call it a network or an upgrade, but that’s what it was.

    I wrote poetry on paper with a number two pencil, but embraced a type writer, then carbon paper, copier, fax machine, Apple IIe, and now the world reads my poems (sometimes) on Boomer Cafe.

    I’m happy to bank online, stream movies, and walk into the VA hospital knowing they have my medical record on-line.

    The bad guys will always be the bad guys but we should blame those bad guys and not the technology.

    I’m going for a walk. There may be a poem in this.

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