Trying to get with it

January 1, 2007 By    

Now that my five kids are old enough not to fear me, they get their jollies by making fun of all things old-fashioned in my life.

Patrick Hyland
Patrick Hyland

My 1997 Dodge Intrepid. My throwback Jim Brown Cleveland Browns jersey. My dusty assortment of country, Motown and rock music going back to the 1960s. Basketball shorts that don’t droop almost to my ankles. Anything short of the latest styles is fair game in these razzing sessions.

My standard reply is that I don’t change unless I need to. My car with 164,000 miles still gets me places, and the dents aren’t quite so noticeable with no monthly payments. Why dump it?

At work, there are few others who still use the paper daily planner that I lug everywhere I go. Palm Pilots do all the same functions – and much more. Plus they fit in a shirt pocket.

I have always been loathe to jump on the bandwagon of marketing-fueled trends. The more pressure there is to “get with it,” the deeper I tend to dig my heels.

I finally broke down and got a cell phone about a year ago – only because my boss said I must. Now my kids pester me to use the stylized rings or photos to identify callers.

I lost the vote and got my son a cell phone for Christmas. It was the only gift the high school freshman requested. While recognizing the safety benefits, I balked over his need to text message other 14-year-olds as well as my commitment to pay even one more nickel to the phone company each month. But it already has helped smooth last-minute changes in a scheduled pickup at school.

The iPod we got my other son away at college is the latest offspring of the record player, tape deck and CDs of my generation. This tiny device holds 800 songs of his choosing that he downloads for free from the Internet. All in a plastic box that fits in the palm of your hand.

After my positive experience with rental cars on business travels, I thought about getting my wife an aftermarket GPS system for her car. Not that she needed help finding her way to and from the holiday sales at any store within a 45-mile radius, of course.

I don’t agree that the newest technology is always the best route. A handwritten note to a loved one still beats Instant Messaging or today’s popular email hieroglyphics every time. Still, electronic communications is a huge improvement when notifying my 11 siblings about the holiday gift exchange.

The point is most technology is much more than cool stuff that I can do without. It is a means of doing things better, faster and often at a substantial cost savings – and your competitors and customers alike know it.

If a stubborn traditionalist like me can adapt, so can apprehensive businessmen facing new competitive challenges in a fast-changing energy environment.

Did I mention that I have my eye on a new Volkswagen Jetta this spring?

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