How To Cope With An Internet Outage With Millennials

bruno-gomiero-94171-unsplashMy sympathies lie with the businesses that were affected by Telstra’s latest outage last week. My own family has been at their mercy for the past two weeks, effectively in lockdown.

Any parent will tell you that there is no greater pain than watching a child suffer, and that is exactly what we have been forced to endure during the outage. While for the old man and myself – hardcore Generation Xers who were brought up on The Famous Five, Cats Cradle, conkers, and – dare I mention – books, it has proven to be more of an irritation than a personal loss, our two young adults have experienced immeasurable grief.

While Kurt’s body has completely lost the ability to function – withdrawal seeing him pace the house like a caged animal to metamorphose into a frightening hybrid of Gollum and the Hulk – NC has refused to come home or return my calls.

And yet, perhaps more terrifying than the sight of two young adults in a perpetual state of despair is the grey pallor and twitching of the parent that is responsible for fixing the problem.

Suffice it to say, the old man has been forced to use his home blood pressure monitor more than usual over this past two weeks. So, when a friend caught him chained to the fencing of the golf club, refusing to go home, and promised him that “cable is three times faster than anything else, mate,” desperation forced his hand and he made an uncharacteristically impulsive decision.

He ordered cable.

In hindsight, I will admit that our expectations were stupidly unrealistic, not helped by the events of the night before during which Kurt managed to use up five precious gigabytes of data within the space of an hour – apparently, that is a lot in data-speak, particularly in a house that prioritizes data over food. So it was with bated breath that we watched cable guy do his ten-minute reconnaissance of our joint and set to work, first in the lounge, and then up a pole on the other side of the street – which foolishly, I interpreted as a positive sign.

And when, finally, he placed the magic card in the old man’s hand with our new passcode – which, it is no exaggeration to say, was the equivalent of Charlie’s golden ticket, (so much so, the old man has since tattoed had the number tattooed his chest) – I can only compare the euphoria to seeing Buble perform his complete collection of Christmas songs live…and naked.

Obviously, being ever the practical one of the family, he held cable guy captive a little longer as he tested and ran through every nuance of the new technology with him, and cable guy was generous enough to humor him, even when he asked some (frankly) very stupid, Generation X type questions.

But I will admit that the sound of my husband’s whoop of joy upon his discovery that the new speed of our new internet thingy, (insert appropriate technological jargon here), far exceeded our expectations was a beautiful thing, comparable I would say to his reaction to the births of our children – although he didn’t do a celebratory lap around the block naked either of those times.

In fact, we remained high on life even when cable guy left our home to save some other poor family in similarly dire straits.

Until, the call from upstairs the wild, that no father wants to hear.

‘DAAAAAAAAAD! The Internet doesn’t work on my phone!’

We are back in lockdown. An immediate state of emergency has been called in which we have hourly meetings to discuss possible emergency action such as new routers, a different bedroom… perhaps even a new house?

I am confident that we will work through this difficult time, folks, but in the meantime, we would be grateful for your prayers.

*Reaches for wine.*

 

I Like To Think An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks…

However… every trip out of the home these days seems to involve some shaming new public lesson in technology that highlights my mom-ness and has zero human interaction or support. I pity the really old people who used to see a trip to the shops as the one chance in their day for conversation.

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I think I’ve coped quite well with the abundance of new technology thrown at us in recent years – coin-operated trollies and food that comes out of machines comes to mind – but when I went to the movies with a friend the other day and we had to buy our tickets from a machine ie. no student who doesn’t give a shit and is just trying to stay awake behind a desk,  I seriously had to question how good this is for our social skills.

 

For the most part, middle-aged pride forces me to argue with the adage that an old dog can’t learn new tricks, although admittedly, the limitations of the more mature body can make things a little slower.

 

But if the brain is willing…

 

For example, I have mastered how to open the modern wine bottle with its fancy screw top lid very quickly; I have stopped trying to force my keys into the button ignition of my car, and five times out of ten, I remember my recyclable shopping bags, hence avoiding the label of planet-destroyer, apart from the five times I don’t.

 

But, there are certain tasks that have proved trickier to absorb, which for the main part are linked to technology.

 

Why the fuck couldn’t they leave things alone?

 

For while the mobile phone is an improvement, it has caused me major abandonment/anxiety issues due to my dependency, like when it stops working for no reason or I have lost it and realized that there is not one single telephone number stored in my head and I am alone in a car park with no idea where my car is parked.

 

We also have parking meters now that require you to enter your car registration number. What woman has ever been able to remember their registration number?  Did they seriously think that through?

 

And, just me, or does everyone require additional assistance at the self-serve check-outs because their fruit, apparently, doesn’t exist, or their bag is not registering that there is anything in it, or their French stick has not been coded? Surely, that has to defeat their purpose?

 

I get the premise of packing your own food for the purposes of speed, efficiency and getting rid of minimum-wage staff, but find it hard to ignore the deep-seated challenge of the set up in Aldi, for example. I like to call it  “Beating the cashier”, and the aim of the game is to catch all your shopping thrown at you by the cashier and put it into the appropriate sections of your trolley – ie. Veg goes at one end, fridge stuff at the other and Who-The-Fuck-Knows-Where-That-Will-Go? somewhere in the middle – before they finish. By the end, my trolley might resemble a refuse mountain with my bags buried carefully beneath it, but it’s still a win, bitch!

 

Try it! It’s really fun.

 

And finally, does anyone know what an HTML cord is yet? Asking for an old dog. 

 

 

 

Why We Hate Millennials

In the same way that we’ve had to forgive our parents for screwing us up, Millennials need to stop blaming Generation X for just about everything.

 

Or that’s what I used to think…, because I’ve not been averse in recent times to some millennial-bashing on this site; guilty of writing the odd scathing comment or two about this whining, entitled generation of our offspring from the personal experience of having two of them that STILL live at home.

 

But I’ve read a lot more about what motivates them lately and so I’ve decided to take a more balanced view. According to my daughter, they have been judged unfairly and do have some backbone with evidence of marrow. So I may have under-estimated them.

 

For example, their much-ridiculed desire to do the job THEY want, certainly emanated from us. Every generation wants the next generation to improve on what they did and ours is no exception. We Xers were the product of a shallow, capitalist era where we forfeited depth and sold our souls for material gain, so wisdom told us to advise them to choose carefully. With a greater understanding of what contributes to happiness now, the sharing of ideas and experiences, (thank you Internet), as well as the worrying increase in mental health issues, many of us are have very different views in middle age about what’s important in life, and a job that is fulfilling, (hence comes with limited stress), is a priority that is not to be mocked or ignored.

 

Equally, I can  appreciate that some of the functions of the Internet ‘aint all that’, even though these kids can have no concept of the pain of researching from books. Conversely, they have to deal with cyber-bullying and seeing selfies of their friends in their underwear at breakfast time.

 

Then there is their so-called fear of hard work. Now I’m not certain whether it’s a culture thing here in Australia or a Millennial thing, but NC went out to work younger than I did and the expectation here is that you work your way through further education. I, on the other hand, received a grant from the government for university, which allowed me to earn my degree the old-fashioned way, by drinking lots of subsidised beer and then working during the holidays to pay off the shortfall.

 

However… this generation does seem to moan a lot more than we did, particularly for a generation whose life has been so revolutionised by technology. My two Millenials moaned for years about the trendy analogue clock I bought for the kitchen because it had no numbers and neither of them could read it. What I initially thought was an ADHD-related problem turned out to be a Millenial problem because many of them can only read digital.

 

So is life that much easier for them, really? Or are they just different to us? Or are we jealous of them, hence all those accusations targeted at them about how they have it easy?  These are questions Scott Ness asks in his TED talk Who Are They And Why We Hate Millennials, the main gripe of our generation being the Millennials seeming entitlement of the extended holiday between dependence and independence while they find themselves.

 

NC gnashes her teeth with rage whenever I slyly forward her articles about the entitlement and laziness of her generation – typically as payback for all those bleats about poor WIFI, no food in the house, or the look of indignation when I mention that the dishwasher needs unloading or the dog needs walking. 

 

Remember washing up chores, anyone?

 

And I’m always on their case about their phones, being the hated breed of overprotective parent that continues to worry about their social communication skills even thought they are adults, because (call me old-fashioned), but I refuse to believe that you can build solid foundations of a relationship via text, memes or emojis.

 

Which elicits responses such as this:

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And reminds me about the uni/TAFE debts many of them are saddled with, (even though half of them probably shouldn’t even be at uni), and the impossibility of buying a property in such a crazy market bubble that has no sign of abating, which forces them to remain at home . Which isn’t much fun for any of us! And don’t get me started on the effect of text on their grammar…proven by the lack of full stop in the comment above, she says, starting a sentence with “and”.

 

I suppose we can’t really blame them for progress in technology because that has improved life for all of us – except for when they update…obviously. And who would we call to fix those tech problems if they weren’t savvy? At least in our day when we didn’t want to talk to anyone, we could unplug the phone and didn’t have to worry about being tracked down or stalked on social media.

 

 

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.

Technology, Women and Middle Age

Nothing makes me laugh out loud quite as much as those text fail memes sent from, (shall we say), mature people.

 

Like this:

 

Technology and Middle Age

 

Or this:

Technology and Middle Age

 

These texts demonstrate our generation’s complete lack of intuition when it comes to modern technology and if my friends are anything to go by, women are generally the worst offenders.

 

Through trial and error I’ve had to make myself much more tech-savvy than I feel the need or want to be, due to the technological demands of the blogging process, but I’ve done it kicking and screaming all the way.

 

My intuition seems to magically disappear in the face of new technology. Nothing can spoil my day quite as easily as when my phone needs to be updated.

 

I was one of those women who thought that LOL meant ‘lots of love’ for a good year or so, and it’s taken me at least a year to work out a) what an emoji is and b) how to insert one. I still push every button if something goes wrong on my phone or computer in the vain hope that it will miraculously self-heal.

 

Whenever the kids catch me mid-text on my phone, squinting and with one finger jabbing at the screen painfully slowly, they snatch it from me to put themselves out of their misery, with one of those humiliating tuts of embarrassment that Gen Y have perfected so well.

 

‘Hun…….’ has become the plaintive moan from my desk at least three times an evening as I try to meet deadlines, which is usually the time that technology decides to fail me.

 

My lack of intuition with technology will be cited as a reason for my divorce, it irritates the old man so much.

 

What I don’t understand is how come using modern technology seems so much more intuitive to middle-aged men than women? Neither the old man or I were brought up with computers or phones, so it must be a gender thing, like map reading and finding things in the house – an area of the brain that functions better in one gender than the other?

 

There are, of course, many other factors that might affect this lack of intuition in middle-aged women. Some of the symptoms of menopause can be very detrimental to the seemingly simple processes of, say, synching your Ipod.

 

Fear of change and progress

Anxiety

Memory Loss

Irritability

Complete lack of interest

Text and keys that are too small for tired, old eyes

 

Because when technology is stimulating or pretty visually appealing, like on Instagram and Facebook, women pick up technology much more quickly than men and it does sustain their interest.

 

Did you know that every month, 40 million more women than men visit Twitter, yet while 32 per cent of of men keep their mobile devices up to date, only 24 per cent of women do because they are too busy ignoring the reminders in the hope they will go away.

 

Generation Y is different, of course. The younger generations have developed with the aid of technology and these days babies get tablets before they can even walk. NC has no difficulty finding her way around it. She has patiently tried to give me several lessons in how to deal with those ‘FUCK IT!’ stages of technology break down, more intuitively, rather than jabbing at every key, turning the machine off and on and finally praying for a miracle.

 

Can an old dog learn new tricks?

 

Some are definitely easier than others.