As my friends and I came trudging into first period on the second day of school, we looked to the front of the class in disbelief as our teacher took a whiteboard marker and started writing on the Smartboard. None of us had ever had this teacher before, and we did not know what to tell him without making him feel embarrassed. Finally, one brave girl raised her hand, “Excuse me, I don’t think you can write on the Smartboard with that marker.” The teacher looked down at his hand, realized his mistake, shrugged it off and moved on to the whiteboard. The Smartboard was not even turned on and he had written all over it. We hoped that the custodians would somehow miraculously clean up the mess.
The modern world of technology is constantly advancing. It’s as if there is a new iPhone out every month, another update to get on your phone that will magically fix everything, apps that can tend to all your needs—ranging from the most random and trivial matters. There is always something new, something better out on the market. It is a lot to take in and seems overwhelming at times.
Millennials and Gen Z may seem lucky—we were born into this. We can catch on quickly to all the trends and ways to maneuver the internet and talk to our friends. We can multitask texting on our phone, Facetiming someone on our laptop and watching television all at once. Even toddlers know how to successfully work their way around a phone to get to their favorite games. Our parents and grandparents on the other hand, not so much. It’s crazy to think how much the world has changed since they were growing up. We think it’s so easy to upload a photo, when in reality for those who didn’t grow up with this technology, it’s not. Just the other day, I had to teach my mom how to print something from my computer. Yes, my mom. Not an elderly person, but a middle-aged woman who uses Instagram regularly to share her favorite books with her followers. But, being born into the “technology-era” is not the only reason why we are considered to be more advanced in this field.
The difference in our ability to use technology, compared to those in an older generation, is that we understand how everything connects. For example, choosing a profile picture for one social media platform is quite similar for all of them. We know that if we want to back up all our photos we can either put them on iCloud or on Google Photos, which has the same purpose. We can crop a photo on multiple platforms because they yield the same result.
The most important tool that my generation knows is how to wing it. Many questions that we get asked we do not know the answer to, but we can take the phone in our hands and play around with it, tapping the keys until we eventually find the answer. It is not that we are so knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of phones and computer programming, but rather it is that we are able to know how to navigate our way around them and tap aimlessly until we happen upon something that sounds like it could lead to a solution to the problem.
We do not necessarily know more about technology than an older generation does. How much can a two-year-old possibly know? Yet, they are able to figure it out. The only difference between my generation and an older one is that we have only experienced life with all of these technological features, never without them. This does not necessarily give us an advantage. We may seem like we know everything, but that is only because we are asked relatively simple questions most of the time. Once users understand the ideas of connecting aspects and are able to figure it out as they go, their technological ability will improve tremendously.
We need to keep up with technology and teach older generations how to use technology efficiently, so we can make new adjustments to our daily lives.
This concept can easily be connected to Judaism. As times change, not only does technology change but so does religion. Yes, of course, we still keep our core values, but technology does affect us. Our ancestors in Hungary or Poland did not have the same laws as we do today. They did not have the common practice of refraining from computer usage on Shabbat because they did not have computers. They did not have the machlokes (disagreements) of whether or not davening using cell phones is permissible. We need to keep up with technology and teach older generations how to use technology efficiently, so we can make new adjustments to our daily lives. Learning the simple rules of technology can help bridge the gap between generations and help enhance our spirituality as well as our technological abilities.
It takes practice to learn how to become a fellow tech “pro” like all of us youngsters, but it is not impossible. We are all attached to our phones at all hours of the day, so we make sure to get our training in. Trust me, this wasn’t my first time seeing my teacher write with a whiteboard marker on the Smartboard. But, at least this time, it came off.
Molly Feder is a junior at Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.