Technology and the Generation Gap

I love technology until I hate it – when it doesn’t do what I want.  Wish I could just talk at it and it would magically fix whatever is wrong with it, or with me.  Siri never seems to give me the answer I need! Can you relate to the frustration?  Wondering what Siri is?  Seems like the world is changing faster than I can keep up.

But, there is hope.  Some of my fellow bloggers experience the same frustration.  If I can’t figure it out, maybe I can jump on the train of the next new technology thing that comes out.  Despite the fast pace of new technology, some of it has become much more user-friendly.

Are you old enough to remember the big old main frame computers and data punch cards?

Remember the Technology of the Good Old Days?

Programmer standing beside punched cards. This stack of 62,500 punched cards — 5 MB worth — held the control program for the giant SAGE military computer network.
Programmer standing beside punched cards. This stack of 62,500 punched cards — 5 MB worth — held the control program for the giant SAGE military computer network.

As the Physics Dept. Secretary at Bryn Mawr College in 1966, one of my jobs was to inventory the lab equipment and supplies. Then, I would enter the inventory with the use of punch cards to go on the Computer Science Center’s main frame that was shared between Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College.  So, it was not unusual for me to be standing beside a big stack of punch cards similar to the photo above.  Dr. John R. Pruitt, a Nuclear Physicist headed up the project.

One day, he came into my office, his face beaming with excitement – I thought he was going to burst.  I was just typing up a Physics exam on my electric typewriter.  It was the kind that gave you aaaaaaaaa if you pressed on the “a” key too firmly.  When the typing was proofread, I would then run off copies on the Ditto machine and produce those sometimes legible test papers in purple colored ink.

Ditto paper
Ditto paper

Well, Dr. Pruitt, normally, a very sedate Physics professor, smiled broadly, and moved in almost slow motion, as he presented a little chip that he carried on the end of his finger, as if it were the crown jewels.  I said, “So what’s this?”

With a far away, mystical look in his twinkling eyes he said, “This, this, my young lady – this is a microchip and it will change the world!”

A microchip? This was the first I had ever seen or heard of such a thing.  But, wow, was he right! For the low down on the history and significance of the microchip go to http://inventors.about.com/od/computersandinternet/a/microchip.htm

It was the very beginning of a technological revolution.

I remember the stupid idea I had to purchase a personal computer, an Apple IIe, touted as the latest technology!

Apple IIe with external floppy drives Circa 1983
Apple IIe with external floppy drives Circa 1983

Frustrated, I gave up on it and the myriad of codes required for simple word processing.  Later, it burned up anyway in my house fire. But, then the MacIntosh came out – what a God send.  Wow, a mouse! Just point and click! So, there was hope for me yet.

Just this morning,  I read a Forbes article my daughter shared on Facebook about a new “mixed reality” technology, much bigger than virtual reality in that it is expected to be the next big leap of technology. So, if you are behind the curve now, look out.  There is more coming down the pike. You can read it at http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2016/11/02/inside-magic-leap-the-secretive-4-5-billion-startup-changing-computing-forever/#53fcccffe83f

Are You Suffering from Generational Technology Deficit?

Are you technologically challenged?  Do your kids talk in another language when it comes to computers and technology?   If you are like many of my generation, you still have problems working your smart phone. Some of my friends do not use a smart phone or any cell phone at all.  They don’t want to deal with technology.  It is confusing and they have gotten along just fine for seventy years without it.

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But, despite the frustration (which is huge),  I love technology when I can get it to work.  There is a certain amount of satisfaction in mastering the puzzle of putting together a website, for instance.  And my iPhone helps me remember what I am doing tomorrow, as long as I remember to put the date on my phone calendar.

But what’s the matter with kids today? Some of them get frustrated with the older generation and do not have the patience to help their parents and grandparents learn the new technology.  Or, do we give up to soon?

My friend came to visit for help.   In frustration she explained that she could not access her Facebook or her games on her smart phone.  Her kids would always get her into these applications, but she did not know how to do it herself.  She didn’t seem to understand that she would need a password or know what her passwords were.  My friend was the victim of what I have labeled GTD – Generational Technology Deficit!

How to Get Over Generational Technology Deficit:

  • That’s easy, just take a hammer to it! (Just kidding)
  • Do not let your kids “fix it” for you without showing you what went wrong or how to fix it the next time yourself.
  • Make yourself knowledgeable and, if you get frustrated, just leave it alone for a while.  Sometimes these darned things just fix themselves.  Or God fixes them.  Or the next time you come back you are in a better, more patient frame of mind. And you can tackle it yourself.
  • Look it up on the internet.  There are answers to most computer and other technology problems available with a Google search, and sometimes there is a U-tube video that walks you through the fix.  That is unless,  the problem is that your internet is not working.  I had my internet service provider suggesting I go online for help with my problem when the problem was that I had no internet! Some people are really dense!
  • And, don’t be afraid to tap your friends at the phone store.  Based on my experience with T-Mobile, they can be a great help.
  • Practice again and again whatever it is you learned.  If you don’t practice it, you will forget and get frustrated all over again.
  • Don’t give up.  You are not too old to learn.

How to Help Family with GTD

If you have parents who won’t embrace new technology, be patient and respectful.  They have been through a whole host of changes in their lives.  And, maybe you can help them get through a few more.  Fortunately, both my adult children encouraged me to get a smart phone, despite the fact that I was sure I didn’t want one, didn’t need one, and wasn’t going to pay for one.  But, I am glad they persisted and were persuasive enough, as now I don’t know what I would do without it. I have a portable computer with me wherever I go!

But in the end, most of us are old enough to do whatever makes us comfortable.  So, do whatever you damn well please. Technology isn’t everything.  It won’t fix supper for you (yet) or take out the trash.  So, embrace it if you want, and don’t let your frustration get in the way. Or, leave it for the younger generation.  You don’t have to get out of your comfort zone.  Just tell them you have an incurable case of GTD – generational technology deficit.

 

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