Welcome To The Modern World by Nicolás León

Welcome To The Modern World by Nicolás León

For my friends Martin y Jorge Luis

At this moment I'm responding to the greetings of an old desk mate, classmate, and schoolmate.  It has been more than forty years and we haven't known anything of each other's lives but thanks to the miracle that is social media and the internet we've been able to find one another. We've stayed in touch along with the rest of our classmates. That's the nice part of social software, although we have to recognize it's dark and negative sides. I try to make the most of it, the good and sane and multicultural side of the computerized era. 

I remember the day I took an envelope containing a three page double spaced article to a newspaper's headquarters so it could be published. The very moment I got there, the security guard called out to me.

-Sir, you have to send it by Email. 
-An email, sir! It's been forever since the receptionist has received a hard copy. Any type of news collaboration has to be sent through the computer, internet, by email. 

I asked myself a bunch of questions - now what? To go in hand with the comedic situation, while on my way home, disappointed and unmotivated, at a yellow light, a bus rolled up beside me and from within came a voice saying: 

-Hey, Sir! I've been looking for you for a long ass time now! Quick, I need your information!
-My phone number? I have my mom's house number. 
-Your email! Your Facebook page!
- Uhhh...it would be... better if you gave me your... card...
-Just look me up on Facebook. Send me a message to my inbox with your information, scan a recent photo and send it as soon as possible! It's for an audition so don't waste any time. You've gotta be quick!
-Facebook? Inbox? Scan? What the hell does this all mean?- I asked myself looking up at Lima's grey sky. I was definitely living in the fast track generation. At the blink of an eye, the technological invasion rattled my brain. Cyber technology had all of a sudden arrived to the neighborhood and I was still in the stone ages. 

Cellphones, internets, googles. We old folks were beyond lost, unconnected. Communication had taken the form of electronic mail, messages, contacts, pictures, groups, etc. They spoke of broadband and networks and of postmodern multiculturalism. For us older guys, born midway through the past century it was like listening to gibberish. Everything became more complicated. 

Guadalupana offered a beginners internet course for the elderly. Out of all the grandpas from the neighborhood, only one became seriously interested, me. 

-Modernize yourself, man! You might be chronologically old but be young again with your knowledge. At Juan Diego's computer center they're giving courses for learning how to use the internet and Microsoft Word. It's perfect for beginners. 

Juan Diego Computer Center - Internet Courses.
Photo: Rodrigo León Palma.

Just thinking about the cyber course made me choke on my spit, I had no idea what any of it meant. I thought about it various times, the pros and cons. Feeling sick with nightmares, Juan Diego's name kept popping up in my head. -civilize yourself at once! Organize your life! Get your crap together with a computer!- I heard a voice in the depths of my dreams that pressured me.- You can do this!- The next day I had made my choice. I signed up for the classes. I fidgeted with the keyboard, with the tiny letters in English, the buttons with pictures. By the third class I had an e-mail address. 

- "Welcome to the world of emails, the best messages from his class, filled with the latest news, national and international, finances, sports, music, movies, and so much more. You'll get more out of the internet and out of life". 

That day I arrived to the neighborhood with a smile on my face, not even the guys from the block could bring me down, they kept telling me I was wasting my time. 

In order to not lose my new skills, I started practicing at the internet cafe instead of meeting up with the old folks. Practice makes perfect. At home, I asked for help from my grandkids but they had no technique. I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying. Two weeks later, the course had ended, we looked like children graduating kindergarten. I felt transformed, I was now internet savvy. 

-Welcome to the modern world!- The young teacher congratulated me. I thought about saying a few words like - I miss human contact, a hug, a strong handshake, a genuine laugh, gossip. There's nothing like sharing a smirk and a slick comment...- I just smiled. I bit my tongue so i wouldn't say anything dumb and I just thanked him. - Thank you very much, teacher-. 
-Sir, if you ever need help or have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll send you a link with instructions. 
-Who do I write to? 
-Make it out to jorgeluis "underline" tizonalvarez "at" balconcillo "dot" com. 
-What's yours, Martin Alvarez Guzman? Also known as Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.
- He's my uncle. 
-Your grandfather, Mr. Alvarez, was a close friend of my fathers. Say hi to your uncle Martin, he's a buddy of mine and tell your grandmother that the León Cadenillas family sends their best. The family of paper and cardboard. 
- I know, the family León from the Dasso Park. Rodrigo and Alejandra León Palma are my friends... 
-Those are my kids! Damn, we're from the same neighborhood. Send my love and care to the family. 

It goes without saying that the young man belonged to one of the most respectable families from the neighborhood. After ending the last class with flying colors, I never again saw the computer teacher. Our communication was through the internet. Facebook lets you communicate and share with the people you're closest to and its free!

With my small saving I was able to rally up enough to buy myself a cellphone. 

-Miss, what type of phone do you recommend? 
-Let me see... this one is good. It has Bluetooth, woofle, brufle, trifle, broadband, touch screen keyboard, a camera, flash, video camera, AM/FM radio, digital TV...it can also send and receive emails, you can also send and receive email, directional torpedo, microwaves and free wireless internet...you don't seem too convinced. We have another model for a mobile phone, the latest smartphone 
-Thank you...I'll come back another day
I had no other option than to bother my teacher. 
-Teacher, what type of phone do you recommend? 
-Depends. What do you need it for? 

On the way I had learned a couple new words, Laptop, IPad, Tablet, MP3, Notebook, Smartphones, Blackberry, Software, etc. 
With loads of excitement I said to myself: "Welcome to the 21st Century!!!!
Thanks to Juan Diego's computer center, I now know of Internet, Facebook and social media. 

The parish priest Reverend Father learns of sins and sinners of the parish community through pictures and videos where he sees his black sheep and disappointments. He analyzes the comments made by the good and the not so much, he finds out about his abstract followers. 

Nicolás Daniel León Cadenillas
Karlsruhe, 2013.
Allison Fabian

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