Technology And Parents

I had to share this Ronny Chieng video with you that Kurt introduced me to the other night. What is it with us middle-aged women and our failure to grasp technology?

We can all identify with Ronny’s mum’s situation. Many of us will have teenagers and younger kids with cruel stories they retell in public that satirise our ineptitude, to match his.

Unless you work in IT (which begs the question WHY?), many of us from Generation X will identify with that same lack of intuition and confidence when it comes to technology, and in particular computers. The sight of a fresh keyboard with its array of buttons, each with the potential to send my work into computer-world Armageddon, is enough to send me into a full body spasm. I blame technology for my anxiety issues. I will never change my job out of fear of some new machine or programme that will out my lack of technology skills; the same skills I highlighted as ‘advanced’ on my CV.

Fujitsu OASYS Pocket, Japanese word processor.
Fujitsu OASYS Pocket, Japanese word processor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spoken at length about my own magnetic repulsion to technology before, and like Ronny’s mum’s, it has become a running joke in our family.

The old man was trying to explain to me only yesterday how to download music on my iPhone from iTunes, complicated it by mentioning something about being ‘offline’ and the dreaded ‘dropbox’ (shudder), and I could physically feel my eyes glaze over and my organs begin to shut down. That feeling of shame and frustration at just not getting it, was reminiscent of the feeling I used to experience in my D set maths class at school.

No-one likes to feel a fool, yet they insist on updating technology all the time.

Theoretically, communication should be much easier these days with so many options available, but there are some areas where it just gets harder for the older generations.

Our decision not to get a landline was not a well thought-out plan when it came to our parents overseas, for example. No matter how much we used to explain to the old man’s mother that we didn’t need a landline to call her because we could use the Skype app on our mobile phones, she never understood how we did it, and would talk to us with awe in her voice, like some miracle was being performed.

Catching up with my dad in the UK is always fraught with problems, too.

My dad is far from a technophobe – he was one of the more innovative parents back in the eighties to buy a word processor, even though he didn’t know what the fuck it did. He even worked out how to switch it on that very same day. I still can’t thank him enough for his faith in progress, because without it I’d never have completed my final year dissertation to deadline, and would not now have my worthless degree.

But try organising a phone conversation with him these days.

Aside from the major issue that he still doesn’t understand that you are supposed to respond to texts, there is the added difficulty posed by the time difference.

And let’s not even go near daylight savings…

Having said all that, ten years since we moved to Australia, he thinks he’s a bit of a pro when it comes to Skype – even though sometimes I wonder if he forgets that I can see him too.

‘The tex’t to set up a time is the first step to each call and as I said, for a man who has always been so advanced when it comes to technology, my biggest frustration is when he doesn’t respond to them – to the point where I’ve checked his number several times.

Sometimes, I worry that if anything happened to us over here, he wouldn’t find out until the following Christmas when we pull out all the stops to connect.

I text him. Nothing. I give him the benefit of the time difference of 9-11 hours, even though I know he rarely sleeps more than five hours a night. Still nothing.

Emails are the same. I email him. No response. Sometimes the silence can go on for weeks. When we finally connect his excuse is that he’s been so busy. He’s retired.

‘Dad,’ I say, when we eventually talk, ‘why didn’t you text me back?’

‘I didn’t get a text from you,’ he always responds, defensively.

‘Check your phone.’

Eventually, we agree a slot and I’ll call him at the agreed time. No response. For a highly intelligent man, the whole time difference thing is a step too far. I blame the whisky.

Sydney time zone clock winging it’s way for Christmas.

2 thoughts on “Technology And Parents

  1. Oh man I think I just peed my pants giggling at Ronnie there…and your commentary on parents and technology. When my Dad got an iphone it was EPIC….I had to bring an entire bottle of wine with me to go over and explain to my 78 year old Dad how to deal with all the elements of the Touch screen on the iphone. He still rarely will text me, althought my Mum God Bless her was willing to learn that right off the bat and now has mastered texting…sooo funny and such a great post Louisa! Here’s hoping we all continue to learn and grow so by the time you can play a movie with a chip in our brain , we will be up to speed LOL!


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