digital expat

In a podcast interview, a professor about my age referred to himself as a “digital immigrant.” You may have run across this hierarchy before: digital natives being those my bonus sons’ ages or younger, digital immigrants those who learned their tech in adulthood. Digital immigrants seem to see themselves as those who can manage mostly okay, but struggle often enough that they’re always remembering that they “don’t really know” what they’re doing. To push the metaphor, I guess they still think in their original language, and are always translating in front of a screen.

This isn’t my experience. And at this point, I’m annoyed that there are only the two options offered. I get that I’m not a digital native. I remember the life before, and value many parts of it. I also value tech life—I *love* tech life, and all its manifestations. (Fussing about PC migration is a side issue!)

I couldn’t compose my projective verse as effectively if I didn’t have desktop publishing. Scalable fonts, variable fonts!, flexible formatting, and even layered text has been a part of my writing process since my early 20s. My seduction into tech life began when my then-sweetheart listened to me complaining about a poem and said, “You know, on my PC there’s a font that looks like your handwriting. You might try it.” SOLD.

For composition and editing? A-mazing. Paste-ups, light boards, retyping from scratch are for the birds. I did that. I have no intention of doing it again. Do not pry my cold dead fingers off my tech.

I haven’t even gone into all the other fascinations and productivity boosts acquired in my decade of systems administration. Or my general love of tools that make it easy to do things just once. Back when I first got a smartphone, A complained, “Mom, you have all these apps on here, cluttering it up!” I smirked. “That’s what I want it for! My calendar, my cycle-tracker, my voice memo recorder….”

I want a category for me, My Sweetie, and people like us. Sure, we were fully grown Before Seamless Tech. But we are still fluent and fluid, interested in adopting any manner of digitalness… and handling our *own* tech support, thankyouverymuch.

I like the term digital expats. Forgotten about those folks, haven’t you? The ones who choose to move from where they grew up to a new country, to live there fully and completely without renouncing their ties to the “old country.” One doesn’t hear about expats regretting their new fluency, the different customs. The expat experience implies a intentional departure that each day’s continued presence affirms.

We like it here. You’d have a hard time picking us out from the natives if it wasn’t for our greying hair. Here’s to our comfortable expat life here in the new country!

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