By LEONARD WOOLSEY
“I feel like a 90-year-old man trapped in the future.”
My friend and I are standing in a hotel where so much technology is baked into the place you would swear you were standing in the cargo bay of Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
We are not in the future, but rather a mainstream hotel off a generic highway exit 30 minutes north of Fort Worth, Texas. Blink and you would miss it.
“I can’t even figure out how to turn the lights on and off in my room,” he said.
There are moments when we realize the world is relentlessly marching forward, leaving us increasingly behind, holding on by only our fingertips.
We have everything from doorbells that double as video cameras to small connected devices on the kitchen counter capable of making a new television arrive on our doorstep the next day.
All of this, however, can leave some, like my friend, standing in the technological dark fumbling to turn on the lights.
My friend was not alone in over-connected funk.
“Why does my mirror in the bathroom have a power button and Bluetooth,” said another.
Technology is our friend. But when it becomes a friction point, we should ask ourselves are we going too far.
Pining is an old-fashioned phrase of when one romantically longs for the simpler days of when what you got was what you saw. I’ve never used the phrase — until now.
The standard room greets me with an iPad device to adjust the temperature, brighten and dim lights, and speakers built into the mirrors. My keycard is required to operate the elevator, and I won’t be surprised if they ask me for my Amazon password when I go to check out. I can feel my fingernails coming into play.
I pine for a key that fits in a slot to open my door. I pine for a light switch I can feel with my hand as I fumble across the room in the dark. And I pine for a mirror that does one thing well — let me know whether my shirt is tucked in before I head out the door.
I pine for a rental car that does not ask my name, ask to connect to my cell phone and requires the keys to be stuck into the dashboard.
My friend shakes his head as we get ready to part. His frustration reminds me of the time my 90-year-old dad traded in his flip phone for an iPhone.
“I want to talk to the Google,” he said.
Holding it in his hand like a delicate flower, he stared at it wondering where to begin.
The same feeling came over me holding the small touchscreen in the hotel room. I did not know where to start, what to do or how to get something to happen. I was, pardon the pun, left standing in the dark.
All I could do was walk back in the elevator and ask HAL to open the pod doors.
Leonard Woolsey is the president and publisher at The Daily News in Galveston, Texas.