When we moved into our house here in Eugene we had to spend a bunch of money on some immediate updates — my memory is so bad I’m fuzzy on the details, but I’m pretty sure the kitchen was carpeted, among other criminal decorating decisions including a strip of hideous decorative flowered wallpaper that bordered the living room walls and a paint job in the main bathroom the previous owner described proudly as “hand sponged” which produced the general effect of a Sherwin-Williams-soaked dog having rubbed itself on various surfaces — and thus had little left over for appliances, so we cheaped out across the board. Our microwave is so old it just has a egg-timer style dial so you can’t program it by seconds, which has resulted in many soft pretzel thawing disasters, and our dishwasher has been long plagued by a weird glitch where it does something mysterious and unhelpful with that expensive fast-dry fluid while reliably producing soaking wet clean dishware every single time, but whatever: our stuff mostly works, even if it’s not particularly fancy.

We did recently have to get a new washer and dryer, replacing the truly ancient used set we had originally bought off Craiglist. The old set had bare-bones functionality: you turned a dial and water would start pouring out, you pushed a button and the dryer would loudly rumble to life. When a cycle was complete both machines released a grating buzzing sound that was apparently intended to notify the entire neighborhood that the laundry was done, although I must say that never stopped me from forgetting to grab things before they succumbed to fatal amounts of wrinkling.

In comparison, the new set feels like an advanced robot duo, full of complex programming possibilities and an oddly charming selection of upbeat electronic noises. Starting a load now involves pressing several buttons before leaving the machine to furrow its digital brow (“SENSING,” reads the display) before getting down to business (“LID LOCKED,” the display informs me, warningly). Boop boop BOOP, the dryer says cheerfully once the power button is pressed, then trills a delightful little tune when it’s finished. Which I of course routinely ignore, because all the technological advancements in the world haven’t solved the ass-painery of folding laundry, especially children’s laundry which is always always ALWAYS inside-out.

As with generations before me, I find myself both embracing and rejecting the new way of doing things. It is undeniably cool that my washing machine feels like something out of the Jetsons, but I’m sure some eventual electronic malfunction will have me raging about how they just don’t make things the way they used to.