It was a very big night at the Luddite Club. To celebrate and honor the best traditions of Thanksgiving, club president Judy had suggested that the Luddites “bury the hatchet” (“You mean the TV remote, don’t you?” said the Futuro club president) and have a celebratory meal with the members of the Futuro Club.
The first and most immediate problem was, What to serve? Should it be turkey? Or something less traditional, like pizza? Or (shudder) tofu? What would represent the perfect blend of old-fashioned and new-fangled values? Or — as the competing club philosophies might put it — of people-centric versus techno-enabled living?
Finally, an accord was reached on serving Cornish game hens. This was acceptable to both clubs, because a) the tiny game birds require the maximum amount of human labor both in the making and in the eating (performed by club members, of course), and b) the acronym on the menu would be “P.C.” for Personal Chicken, as the Futuro President likes to call them.
There were green salads and roasted vegetables, and Key Lime pie would be added to the more traditional pies of apple and pumpkin.
“Why Key Lime?” asked one of the members.
“Because I can never get enough of it,” said President Judy.
The Futuro president was fine with that, too, because “It’ll mean more pumpkin pie for the rest of us.”
Where to hold the event was debated until the kids announced it was obvious: The Luddite Club had a fully-equipped game room, with pool tables, card tables, and lots of snacks, whereas all that the Futuro could offer was a row of vending machines and a robo-bartender that refused to serve anything to anyone under 21.
A final requirement was that all electronic devices had to be disabled, forcing the club members to get to know one another. The Futuros provided several wire mesh Faraday “cages,” within which the cell phones sat eerily silent.
Both club groups hung back, at first, but the young people soon bonded over the issue of whose parents were dumber:
“My mom never knew to turn off her phone screen before putting it in her pocket — no wonder she burned through 5 batteries!”
“And made about a million butt-calls!”
“Well, my dad thinks everything newer is better. Hello, vinyl records and cognac, anyone?”
“What do you know about cognac?” said her dad, from the hall.
“Relax, it’s on Wikipedia!”
“It better be!”
Card games were a hit, until one of the boys asked, “Alexa, what’s a flush? And can it beat four of a kind?”
“There’s no Alexa here, genius,” said one of the girls. “You’ll just have to look it up.”
The boy’s hand went to his back pocket, where his phone usually resided.
“I meant, look it up, up there.” She was pointing to a chart on the wall.
Meanwhile, upstairs, the grownups were bonding:
“You know, it’s so restful,” said Judy, “without those cell phones buzzing all the time.”
“Yes, half the time it’s an ad for something I don’t even want,” confessed a Futuro member. “Just because I looked at a picture of snowboots, once, for thirty seconds, is no reason I should be followed everywhere by ads for them for the next 6 months!”
“I know. It’s like being cyberstalked by your own to-do list!”
“And when the phone gives me notifications — say, to look at something on Facebook — the darned thing won’t even let me see them!”
“It says my password is wrong.”
“Passwords! Ugh!” said every adult, in unison.
“On my computer, too,” said a Futuro. “I have to change my password every month, to renew my commuter pass — and every single time, it says ‘invalid.’ It’s maddening!”
“My computer wouldn’t even give me my email without the password — which it insisted was wrong,” said Judy. “I double-checked: that WAS the password, and it wouldn’t take it!”
“What’s your system?” asked a Futuro. “Do you have one?”
“Well — I write them all down on little scraps of paper…”
“…and then lose them all, somewhere around the house,” added Judy’s husband.
“Everyone’s a critic! But this was one that YOU wrote down,” Judy told him, “and even you said it should have worked! And yet it didn’t. Which is why I say, What’s the point of a password if it doesn’t even work? Passwords are just plain evil!”
This turned out to be something on which everyone agreed. It may not be Peace on Earth, but it’s a good enough start, for me, to the holiday season!