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November 27, 2020 | Rome, Italy

Help me Steve

By | 2018-03-21T18:46:24+01:00 October 18th, 2011|Lifestyle Archive|
Steve Jobs with the first Macintosh in 1984.
I

own an iMac, iPhone and iPad. One would think that these three devices would make corresponding with other human beings a breeze. Consider the options: video conferencing, email, social networking, instant messaging — hell, Mac probably even makes a Morse Code app. So, why the TWEET is it that lately I can’t seem to call, type or text anyone?

Two reasons, both of which go by the name offspring. My children have taken to the tech world like moths to a flame and kidnapped my iWorld in the process.

Before I had kids, I’d see children glued to handheld video devices. Most looked like asocial zombies or frantic financial traders. They either stared blankly at the screen, cutting themselves off from real time in the real world, or screamed obscenities while writhing in agony. Either way, it was unattractive, and I swore that my children would never be like that.

Absolutes are idiotic, so color me stupid. I admit it now.

My mother-to-children tech transfer began innocently enough — with educational programs, websites and apps. But then their older cousins introduced them to Angry Birds (the app-game that leads to the assassination of green pigs) and a car-racing thingamabob. Suddenly, the ABCs and 123s took a back seat.

My children’s Mac habits got so out of control that I enlisted in the Apple police, the iStapo, if you will. I set a timer to 15 minutes and listened to my son scream at the virtual car he was driving or curse one of those pissed-off birds. When the timer rang, I transformed the gizmos into Ann Frank’s attic family. I put the iPad between books on a high shelf, hid my computer in my underwear drawer, and shoved my phone in my kitchen utensil drawer. (Actually, maybe I’m more like Schindler, rescuing my Made-in-China/designed-in-Cupertino products from rage-filled rug rats.)

The timer also cued both the crying, whining preschooler and the temper-tantrum throwing toddler.

“Please mommy! Five more minutes! Please! PLEASE!” yelled the older one while grabbing my pants leg. The younger one just kicked and screamed on the floor. It was a dramatic scene, and normally I get off on a little drama. But this, quite frankly, was something that could drive a lesser woman (or me, last Thursday) to drink.

When Steve Jobs died, I was moved, like so many others. This mere mortal had helped generate a technological movement that changed the way we live. I first sat in front of an Mac in 1989 and it was groundbreaking. I now have an arsenal of Jobs creations complete with the newest (and mind-blowing) operating system.

The latest innovation, the iCloud, lets you store everything you have on any device: Family photos to to-do lists, Ella Fitzgerald to Amy Winehouse, Toy Story Trilogy to PBS documentaries — everything (even your Microsoft word documents) can be kept in the “cloud.”

So it struck me: Steve Jobs is now helping us from the his own personal paradise. Like a new-tech deity, he’s saving us from viruses. Like a patron saint of computers, he’s protecting us from lost files and system crashes. So why can’t I go to the Mac Altar and pray to him for a little more than technical assistance? I have the prayer ready:

Dear Steve,

I know prayers don’t usually start like informal letters, but bear with me; I’m not the religious type. First off, I hope you are content with your new digs. Secondly, is there anything you can do to keep my children away from your products?

I know what you’re thinking, Steve. I do. You think I should ante up and buy a couple of new iPads. Well, Steve, times are tough (I didn’t buy Apple stock in the late 80s) and I really do think kids still need to get outside and ride their new bikes or jump on that freaking eyesore of a trampoline I bought from a German website.

Seriously, St. Steve of All Things Apple, can you look down on my boys and find a supernatural force that could rip those computers from their grubby little hands? You were a Buddhist, so maybe you could help them be more Zen-like when I take away the goods. You were also a Capitalist, so I’m sure you can appreciate that I really just want my stuff back.

Please. Help me.

Amen, Baruch atah Adonai, Namaste.

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Kissy Dugan's "Parenthood" column ran from 2007 through 2016.

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