‘Press menu button once, press it again. Then press the black centre button once till it shows P100, press again for time and turn the knob till it shows 2 and a half minutes. Press start.’
Charlotte was going away for a few days and was leaving instructions for me on how to use the microwave. I hate our microwave. It is really complicated to use. Our old one had a dial for the time, a button for the power and a start button. Simple. This one needs a degree in something I haven’t got and have no chance of getting. Until recently, Becky was firmly in my camp and we both refused to use the machine. Then Charlotte taught her how to use it and suddenly she was all, ‘Daddy, it’s so simple once you get the hang of it. Why don’t you give it a try?’ No chance. I remained firm in my resolve until Charlotte had to go away for a week and my morning porridge (yes, I know, I’m also a walking ethnic stereotype of a Scotsman) was in jeopardy (and I do eat it with salt, not sugar). So we had a training event with the above instructions written down and a run through by me under supervision. What could go wrong? The next day my courage failed me and I made the porridge the old way in a pan. Apart from taking three times longer than the microwave, the pan took half a day’s soaking to get the burnt porridge off the bottom. The day after that I had natural yogurt and berries for breakfast, silently chiding myself for my cowardice as I ate
my cold breakfast. The third day saw me strengthen my resolve. I have a Master’s degree in Theology (once known as the Queen of the Sciences) I should be able to master this. All went well until I got on to the knob that set the time. Suddenly the machine thought I was reheating 400 grams of cold pizza! More twiddling of knobs and pressing of buttons got me further into trouble. Even that tried and tested solution, turning the machine off at the socket didn’t work. Today’s burnt porridge pot is soaking in the sink as I write. As I get older, I find that some new technology works for me. I ‘get it’
while other things pass me by, leaving me cold; I struggle to understand how to use them, let alone how they work. I am in awe of young people who can use both thumbs to type on really small screens incredibly quickly. I once replied to a text with a phone call because I had learned how to read texts but not how to reply to them. Our use of technology seems to grow day by day. More and more wonderful, and not so wonderful, gadgets fill our homes. By and large, they do make our life better; at least, when they work. But to make them work we still need people; the inventors, the technicians, the help desk staff, patient wives preparing for remedial lessons in microwave use. Technology can seem to be taking over; but our lives are still best when lived with each other.
In the story of the creation of the world, told in the book of Genesis, God says ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ (Genesis 2:18) What was true at the beginning of the world holds true today. We need to be with others, however irritating they can sometimes be! We need to live for each other, to help each other, to listen to each other. Technology allows us to be close to those on the other side of the world, but sometimes it also closes us off to those next door. So maybe, next time you want to email a neighbour, call them instead, or maybe even go and knock on their door and talk face to face. Let’s use our modern technology as a gift not as a barrier. Let’s not be alone.