“Grandpa, No. Double click the Internet Explorer icon, then download the updated App. That should fix it.”
This is supposed to be the time I help the younger generation, drawing on lessons from decades of life experience. Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying to keep up with ever changing technology, code words that come with it, and service websites that have become minefields of ineptitude. Synchronizing the new TV to the internet requires a college course on WiFi gobbledygook. My cell phone is about as intuitive as programming a satellite launch. Passwords now require mixed characters. Took a month to set up my website, and I used a preexisting template on WordPress, but why do I have to learn HTML code? Don’t get me started on widgets.
I know, we’ve been down this road before (see Texting – Conversational Spam), but technology and the software it comes with, is supposed to make life easier, not drive us to excessive use of pharmaceuticals. No, it’s not a sign of my age, wishing for a simpler life. It’s that embarrassing call to kids still in diapers, to sheepishly ask for advice when things go haywire.
Nothing is standardized. I use Windows based applications. My IPhone uses IOS. It’s a rehash of an old story – Microsoft is from Mars, Apple is from Venus. My son-in-law tried to demonstrate how to program my new IPhone. He lost me at “press the settings option.”
All those lifelong experiences, were born on defunct analog devices and a time-honored system of manila folders, filled with … egad … paper documents. Grandpa, it’s all about saving trees. Send it to me through the cloud. What, do I need an airline ticket? No Grandpa, there’s an App for that. An App??? You mean hors d’oeuvres? OMG Grandpa. Wait a minute, wasn’t that hacked recently, spilling onto the net, compromising pictures for the entire world to see? Oh Grandpa, that’s because they didn’t use a strong password.
Of course, every site wants a password. Use a unique password is the current wisdom, and change it regularly. Do you know how many pages of passwords I have for all the sites that require it (which is everything, including registration for the new IPOD ear buds I bought)? I have over thirty for my writing sites alone. I have trouble remembering the four digit garage code. Can’t use my birthday (though I can’t remember that one either), need to have a combination of capitals, small letters, symbols, smiley faces, and Greek numbers. It’s no wonder folks my age rebel with simple passwords, then get repeatedly hacked. I hear you can buy algorithm software to generate new ones for you … but you need a password to access it.
Why can’t programs leave well enough alone? I subscribe to a basic proofreader to catch grammatical faux pas my aging brain misses. Just when I get comfortable, they go and “update” the program, forcing me to relearn the process. But nothing boiled my teapot like Word, when version 7 hit the market some years ago. Took me weeks to figure out where they moved all the commands, and I’d been a lifelong user.
Many elderly folks who predate me by a couple decades struggle the most. I have an elderly relative who refuses to touch a computer. I think the damned things scare him. With services doing everything online, we often end up handling travel and billing issues for him. Poor guy wondered why no one called him, until we discovered his new cell phone forwarded all calls to his old number, which didn’t exist anymore. We had to tape buttons on remote controls so they wouldn’t discombobulate the settings. Ever try to walk someone through reprogramming today’s televisions via phone? Hell, I have trouble doing it with the instructions in front of me. It’s a test of patience, best done with adult beverages.
As an author who started writing later in life, social media became the litmus test for how doltish I’d become. My first reaction to Twitter was curmudgeonly. I ignored it. Sending 140 character messages about my trip to the supermarket, seemed an awful waste of time, and I sure as hell didn’t want to receive anyone elses. Smart phones? I just want to make a phone call, not text dumb messages with winking emoticons, using a tiny LCD keyboard prone to incorrectly autocorrect with lewd words. The number of times I butt-dialed “Siri” by accident is embarrassing. I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that … it sounded like you farted. I can hear it now. But grandpa, you should lock your phone. Great, just what I need, another password.
I should consider myself lucky. At least I have young folks in the family who will take the time to get me back on track. However, if you have grandchildren who openly giggle when you struggle to master today’s technology and the internet, next time you take them fishing … make them bait their own hook.