Most of my generation related to the Super Bowl advertisement that showed an amazed Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel mystified by “The Internet.” I still remember the day email was introduced in my office and I thought I was pretty hip with my first huge cell phone. Today I email and text, have a rarely active Facebook page, use iPhoto, download movies, ebooks and audio books, listen to Spotify, and use my computer and the internet in various ways for my teaching. Still, I am self-declared “technophobe;” I have a former Apple Store consultant who occasionally comes to set things up or when I need tech help which I justify as a household expense like having a good plumber.
Truthfully, being a true extrovert, I call spending all day with technology “a soul suck.”
My children all laugh when I pull out my electronic devices and ask for help. They declare it’s all in fun while laughing and agreeing “I am cute and they love me.” Fortunately they are beyond the age of truly being embarrassed.
From my point of view, they are all technology whizzes because it is all second nature to them.
My daughter, an educator can teach a smart-board lesson with her eyes closed and my son in the finance world can whip out a spread-sheet in minutes. My youngest, a high schooler, exposed to technology from her earliest days, creates amazing power points/videos which define cutting-edge classroom learning while she produces slide shows good enough to be shown at sports banquets.
But, and it is a BUT with capital letters, when they finally agree to help me with some problem or question, usually under the duress as they waiting for me to do something for them they typically do the following:
- Laugh at my request as I sputter out the wrong terminology in an attempt to describe what it is that I actually want to do.
- Take a deep sigh and look at the time on their phone immediately after they have shown me, which takes place in the blink of an eye.
- When I ask if they can show me again (slower) or better yet if they could walk me through it while I do it, one more time (GOD forbid that I have to write it down), they usually look at an urgent incoming text on their phone and say something like “look mom, I’ll just do it for you this time,” knowing that I will be too embarrassed to ask them the same question again.
- Or worse yet, they explain that they don’t know how to do something….have no need of knowing and, in the tone you might use to address a small child, say something like “mom, you don’t need to organize all your documents into separate files, I just remember what I name everything and search in Finder”….HAH if only I could remember where my glasses are….
Recently I needed help doing something for my daughter’s sports team (she was captain and I was organizing the season end’s dinner, thank you very much!) I knew she would be impatient, so before we began I made her watch a YouTube video of a comedian who goes to therapy in order to deal with her mother’s technological ineptitude. I got a laugh out of her nonetheless in the end she completed the task of uploading the photos on a difficult website that I still don’t know how to do!
My kids consider my ineptitude an amusing personality flaw. At another juncture, if they would listen, I could explain in more detail what I have been doing for the past 25 years and why it has come to this. In short, I have been busy being a full-time mom, working part-time, and volunteering. But in the meantime I have a request of my three children when it relates to technology….
1. Yes, you can laugh at me, but please be patient when I need help. I have had to share an awful lot of patience with all three of you over the years.
2. When I want to take a photo of my beautiful children who I am proud of, don’t moan and tell me you look horrible and walk away. Don’t always say “I’ll just take it on my phone” so I have to remind you to send it to me. I want pictures of you on my phone, is it too much to ask?
3. I promise I won’t upload photos to Facebook unless you approve but then you have to approve of SOME photos of things we do together because it might be the highlight of my week and some of those people who really love you that you’ve forgotten to write letters to!
4. Finally I want to thank you for texting (clever sarcastic comments included) and emailing me, making me watch downloaded movies and TV series that I would have never have watched and for sharing photos and hilarious snapchats with me. Thank you for using all this technology to stay connected. That’s not a “soul suck!”
Gabrielle McCree is an ESL Adult Teacher, Hispanic Resource Center and English Language Institute, Manhattanville College. She is a mother of three, Lori (25), Chris (23), Andrea (18).