From the Editor’s Files: I AM swiping my screen!!! (Or, how to learn to use a cell phone)

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By Paul Rhodes, publisher and editor

Just a few weeks ago, I told a tale of becoming a streamer, as in “I can now stream movies and TV shows on my television.”
And now just within the past few days, I’ve twice been reminded about the invasiveness of technology in our lives, and how learning to accept that technology really is a choice for each of us – and for each situation we come across.
Over the weekend, my daughter Abby was practically gushing about the newest gadget in her life. She had finally succumbed to all of the hype and purchased herself an Instant Pot.
Instant Pots are a brand of electric pressure cookers or multi-cookers. Pressure cookers work by creating heat under a tight seal, so the temperature is much higher than the boiling point of water and the steam can’t escape. The steam cooks food much more quickly than traditional stovetop or oven cooking.
So suddenly, you have a pressure cooker, a fast sauté device, a rice cooker, a steamer…oh my gosh, just about everything except another coffee maker, from what I’ve been told.
My buddy Bruce Chapman has been sold on Instant Pots since the pandemic hit. He actually has two of them, one large and one small. I think if they’re both cooking at the same time, you can use a metal spoon on the sides of them and play a little song.
My daughter apparently used her new Instant Pot over the weekend to cook a couple of roasts in record time, along with other portions of the meal. She’s a single mom pressed for time between work, kids and other commitments, and I’ll bet the love for this new device that she expressed to me over the weekend was truly genuine.
So when will I join the other cool kids and become an Instant Potter (I don’t know, that sounds a little weird…too much like Harry Potter)? Probably after I go to visit Abby and the grandkids and can get a first-hand demo and some hands-on use with this new device.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I’m sure my buddy Bruce and I would have spent time in his kitchen getting me in touch with the Instant Pot revolution.
In a flip flop of this scenario, I’ve been helping a friend of mine learn how to use a smart cellular telephone. That’s right…someone who’s never had a cell phone before, and was gifted one for Christmas.
Helping this person learn how to use a cell phone has been an eye-opening experience.
Years ago, the best advice a friend gave me when I was struggling to learn how to use a “smart” cell phone was this: Just learn one or two things about the phone at a time, and get used to those functions before moving on to something else.
I had had a Blackberry before that, so this wasn’t such a huge learning curve. But it still was a little daunting.
My friend, on the other hand, stares at her new cell phone like it is a hunk off of an asteroid that has fallen to earth, and has just cooled enough to pick it up. “Try calling me,” I asked her. “I don’t know how to do that,” she replied.
Mind you, this device has been in her purse for two months now, and she has been angrily cursing its existence most of that time.
“So what can you do on your phone?” I asked. “I’ve got a game I play. That’s fun,” she said.
Hmmmm. I explained that her new telephone was designed to do a whole lot more than be an expensive handheld game device. Following the rule I used for myself years ago, I showed her how to do two things: Look up a phone number in her address book, and answer a call when her phone rang.
A minute later, her son was impressed when he called and she answered the phone.
In time, my friend’s curiosity will get the best of her, and she’ll start taking mental notes when her granddaughter is using the phone to call friends and search the web. And in time, I’ll get up to visit my daughter and will help her prepare a meal with her Instant Pot.
I’ll bet we both will wish we had conquered our fears sooner.