I am writing this in my local internet cafe, or home, as I prefer to call it. The 21st century is often referred to as the digital age. Former ways of communicating ideas and communicating with each other are becoming obsolete as cyber culture takes over. I think I can truthfully say that I have embraced change fairly seamlessly.
Next month, I will celebrate my 74th birthday in digital years. One advantage of being on that long journey is that, unlike the younger generation, I know the significance of the adopted digital tools and symbols. In another age, I used real paperclips, envelopes, a magnifying glass and magic erasers (rubbers). I spent hours and hours literally cutting and pasting to produce leaflets and posters. We have come so far and je ne regrette rien
When I worked in the Chief Executive's Department of Strathclyde Region, I was based in Divisional HQ in Ayr. Strathclyde was huge, covering a population of half of Scotland. It was moving towards decentralising and more and more was being determined at divisional level. When the Ayr Divisional Committee met, the agendas, reports and minutes had to be prepared locally and then faxed to Glasgow and re-typed.
Then there was the epiphany of email. We had it on good authority that the secretary had been initiated into the secret world of the email and these documents could now go electronically up the A77 to HQ at the press of a button on a keyboard. We didn't need to know how it worked, just that it did.
Later, working at North Ayrshire Council, I saw the change from policy officers, committee clerks, admin assistants and typing pools, to an expectation that committee staff would be computer literate and do their own typing and communications.
Some found it easy, others more of a challenge. One of my colleagues really struggled. He tried everything, even an early form of voice recognition that would then type out what he dictated. It wasn't that he didn't find the internet fascinating. He started a journal of useful web addresses which he would write down in longhand using one of the scores of pens he had collected over the years. For me it was a joyous journey. I celebrated with such fierce dancing round the bonfire of the tippex.
I am long since retired now but cyber culture has continued to advance at breakneck speed. I don't even try to keep up with all of it, only those bits that interest me or are of personal use. I know about WhatsApp, Snapchat and TikTok but have given them a wide berth. On the other hand, I spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and streaming services. I message and mail all the time and, since Covid, have mastered the art of Zoom.
My daughter and I race each other to see who can post their Wordle score first each morning. And I have developed the annoying habit of taking pictures on my phone whenever I am walking the dog, meeting family or friends, or out for a special meal. I still find selfies a bit of a challenge.
I am not ashamed to admit that my iPad is seldom away from my side. It is on my knee right now as this social media savvy septuagenarian types this out. With my birthday only a few weeks away, I am tempted to mark it by sending myself a card – using the Funky Pigeon app of course.