Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old People and the Internets

Ah, in my 23 years of existence, I have acutely observed the inevitability of age robbing most people of their technological prowess. FOR EXAMPLE, I was behind a lady in the Customer Service line at Target who made the clerk come out from behind his desk to load a registry list for her on the kiosks. Pulling up a registry at Target is one of the MOST intuitive things a person could includes instructions such as PUSH HERE and TYPE LAST NAME OF BRIDE OR GROOM. But this lady (who was probably only in her mid-fifties) told the kid behind the desk that "Oh gosh, computers scare me. I don't even want to try. Will you just do it for me?" to which he replied, "Oh, I understand, my mom is the same way." And I got to mom is the same way, too. So are MOST people's mothers.

Don't get me wrong, my mother could probably bake a cake out of duct tape and couch cushions, but FOR THE LIFE OF HER she can't check her cell phone messages. It's not that she's dumb, it's just that every time one of us tries to show her how, after about thirty seconds of instructions, she throws her hands up in frustration and declares, "Just erase all of the messages! They're only from your father anyway!!" This (sadly/humorously) is true. My mother only gets voice mails from my dad, which all basically say, "Susie. Pick up your phone. I don't EVEN KNOW WHY I'M LEAVING THIS MESSAGE BECAUSE YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO CHECK YOUR VOICE MAILS." She and dad use about 25 cell phone minutes a month. Total.

I do feel fortunate because I am still young enough to have grown up understanding the wisdom of Google. More specifically, I don't ask complicated questions or seek out answers from people to things that I know I can find on the internet. For example, I used to work with an older woman who just wasn't gettin it when it came to technology. She asked me how to change the background image on a blog. Apparently, she'd been asking millions of people the same question who couldn't help her out. Welp, I STARTED to explain it to her, then realized that I could just pull up some instructions through Google and print them out for her. Took three minutes. And don't even get me STARTED on how much old people like to print things out, like they think everything on the internet is going to be erased one day by terrorists and they will no longer be able to access their flight information or hotel confirmation number.

I know this is an obvious topic, most of us under 25 assume that people over 45 are total squares who still wish they could use typewriters and rotary phones. And the older people who ARE hip to the newest technologies just seem like they're trying too hard. Lose-lose.

But I bring it up because I already feel it setting in for myself. Sure, I know a little html code. Yeah, I can still decipher the lingo for the most part. But, for example, all the kids these days are talking about Skype. I kind of know what Skype is in principle, but I haven't actually used it. If some 14 year old were trying to show me around on this nebulous and mystical Skype program, I'd feel like an old person. I just would. And, to hide my oldness, I'd probably try to bond with the poor kid by bringing up some totally out of style emo band and end up mispronouncing the band's name anyway (like my old professor who tried to talk about how glamorous ANGELA JOLIE and BRAD PITTS were).

What does that mean? I'm already falling out of the loop. Stella is losing her groove. Should I age with dignity and let things begin to slip (oh SKYPE HOW YOU TORTURE ME), or should desperately and shamelessly try to hang on by going into overdrive to keep up with the younger, hipper Jonses? Le sigh. Feels like a quarter-life crisis is on the horizon. Perhaps I'll buddy up to some freshmen on campus and use their Dining Plus money to assault the dessert buffet at the Canon Center. That will never get old.


  1. Julia, you totally crack me up (Robert also). We second that motion. Nice work, it's so true. Hopefully, we don't get too out of the loop or find ourselves total squares at 45 :)

  2. um...apparently 4 years makes a HUGE difference...I had never even heard of SKYPE until your post...

  3. You are MARRIED.


    Cling desperatly to the technology of your youth and grow to resent any new shiny toy. Skype is for the communists. When you were a kids, telephones were connected to wires, which were connected to other wires, which led to the person you were ACTUALLY TALKING TO. none of these voices floating around unfettered in the air. Skype. bah. mixing phone and internet can only lead to the moral decline of society.

  4. Richard likes your funky "monkeys taking care of quails or something" background, by the way.

  5. Well, Richard knows it best, probably: someone has to take care of the quails.

  6. I'm a little slow, but just saw the title of your post again and laughed. I used to love to go down to the Wal-Marts with my grandma.

  7. Skype - really? My parents use Skype, Matt's parents use Skype. I've been Skyping since 2004. Have you heard of webcams? Video telephones? How OLD are you?