The Weekend Australian - Review - - Lifelines - Deirdre Macken

IN the quest to ap­pear up to date, tech­no­log­i­cally speak­ing, I some­times pre­tend to be ahead of the pack. For a while I talked about my Ap­ple to get street cred, but that was when ev­ery­one was a PC per­son and the i-fam­ily of de­vices was still twin­kle in Steve Jobs’s eye.

Then, when iPads were still fresh, I’d pull mine out at book club and an­nounce, ‘‘ I’ll just down­load that book and check the Pop­u­lar High­lights for a pithy quote.’’

Lately, I’ve been urg­ing friends to go to the cloud. ‘‘ You re­ally should be on the cloud,’’ I’d say, ‘‘ ev­ery­thing’s so se­cure up there.’’ That worked un­til my daugh­ter said, ‘‘ It’s not ON the cloud. You don’t send stuff to sit on the cloud like some an­gel. It’s IN the cloud.’’

Ob­vi­ously, this sort of one-up­man­ship only works on those less con­fi­dent about tech­nol­ogy. That rules out peo­ple younger than you, any­one who has a de­vice more mod­ern than yours, and any­one wear­ing sun­glasses that look as if they were won in a fun­fair.

But there are still some peo­ple who are more MyS­pace than Spo­tify and are eas­ily im­pressed, es­pe­cially when you tell them about your Moun­tain Lion. What’s more, they don’t all live in re­tire­ment homes. Some are Hol­ly­wood movie stars.

Re­cently, The New Yorker re­vealed the stars of the new film The In­tern­ship are as dated as the char­ac­ters they play in the movie. Nei­ther Owen Wil­son nor Vince Vaughn is on Twit­ter, they’ve never opened a Face­book ac­count and when Wil­son was asked about tech­nol­ogy he said some­thing like, ‘‘ There’s a new Black­Berry com­ing out, right.’’

The movie is about gen­er­a­tional con­flict and par­tic­u­larly the con­test be­tween the gen­er­a­tion that grew up with Mario Kart and the slightly older gen­er­a­tion that could still knock a bil­ly­cart to­gether. But it will ap­peal to ev­ery­one who has ever felt — even for a few days — that tech­nol­ogy just took an­other leap for­ward and ev­ery­one else took a step for­ward but you missed it, and un­less you move fast they’ll start car­bon-dat­ing you. And that means ev­ery­one. While younger peo­ple talk about FOMO (fear of miss­ing out) when they leave their iPhone to go to the toi­let, ev­ery­one has FOBFO (fear of be­ing found out). Fear of be­ing found out is the fear you get when some­one says, ‘‘ Did you see that tweet from Nouriel Roubini?’’ and you’re not on Twit­ter.

It’s when the help desk says, ‘‘ Do a force quit’’ and you can only see the es­cape but­ton — and that never takes you any­where. It’s how you feel when a friend is talk­ing about a Spo­tify playlist and you’re still stuff­ing CDs into the side of your com­puter.

It’s how you feel in a hip­ster cafe when you can’t un­der­stand what they’re talk­ing about and what me­dia they use to find all that stuff out. They live on a dif­fer­ent plat­form from you and me (or is that IN a dif­fer­ent plat­form?).

You may be feel­ing a lit­tle FOBFO right now, es­pe­cially af­ter I dropped the fact that I have a Moun­tain Lion. You didn’t know the IOS/OSX world had de­faulted to bi­o­log­i­cal ex­pres­sions, did you?

But don’t fear, there are some re­as­sur­ing things about be­ing stuck in an era in which you have to up­grade your­self ev­ery few weeks.

First, this is a class­less prob­lem. Ev­ery­one has it, even your chief ex­ec­u­tive — es­pe­cially your chief ex­ec­u­tive. You’ve heard about the boss who had to dic­tate mes­sages to an as­sis­tant be­cause he couldn’t use email; the boss who put staff memos on Twit­ter; or the one who started friend­ing peo­ple on Face­book be­fore his HR ex­ec­u­tive hit the roof.

And, be­lieve me, our chief ex­ec­u­tives have huge amounts of FOBFO be­cause they know what’s at stake. As the guys in The In­tern­ship say, the work­place is ‘‘ like a men­tal Hunger Games against a bunch of ge­nius kids for a hand­ful of jobs’’. (And a few chief ex­ec­u­tives would feel even more ner­vous now be­cause they’ve never heard of The Hunger Games).

The other re­as­sur­ing thing about es­ca­lat­ing tech­nol­ogy is that, for a lit­tle while at least, ev­ery­one will be out of date. Sure, there are soft­ware engi­neers in Google who are never dig­i­tally dated but you don’t meet them at din­ner par­ties, do you? The trick is not to be too far out of date. Like, don’t put off up­grad­ing your com­puter un­til it’s too late and you are forced to buy a new com­puter — one that comes with the Lion. But if you are out of date, never stop pre­tend­ing.

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