Philadelphia Metropolis


Confessions of a Techno Dolt

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As a mom of three teens, I've relied upon them for most of my computer explaining needs.  I often call them my personal "Video Professors".  However, they are no longer amused, and have decided to throw me to the proverbial wolves.  In fact, my daughter Aubrie said, "Mom, you have to learn this some time.  We're not always going to be around to fix everything for you."

Hmm.  Why does that sound eerily familiar?

This has sent me on a journey to become technologically savvy, which is likely akin to the quest for the Holy Grail.  I know it exists, I just doubt that I'll ever attain it.  Let me illustrate - with the help of my equally computer challenged friend, Michele. 

We were working on a "care calendar", which is an online organizer for people who are providing needs for the sick.  The two of us were entering information like pros, and were quite pleased with ourselves.  Then, I hit something on the computer and the stupid thing wouldn't let us enter anymore information, no matter what we did.  So Dumb and Dumber began hitting every key on the keyboard, trying to undo whatever I'd done.

We must have looked like chimps as we poked at the keys, scratched our heads and screeched questions to each other.  This went on for 15 minutes, until we knew we'd never figure out what we did wrong. 

Defeated, we knew what we had to do.

Almost in unison, we hollered, "ELYSE"!  Elyse is my teen daughter who was lounging (hiding) in the other room.  After several attempts to get her to come, she finally accepted her fate and answered the summons.  We started asking questions at the same time, however, we weren't saying the same thing.  Elyse had to shout, "Mom, Michele - one crazy at a time".  Then she rolled her eyes, sighed (heavily and audibly) and steeled herself to face her fate.

To be fair, you almost have to feel sorry for Elyse.  She walked into the world of two twits, who have no earthly clue how technology works.  We understand just enough to get by - and get us in trouble.  Ask me about my attempt to purchase medicine online sometime.  Let's just say there is a Mexican pharmacy with my photo on the wall, and underneath is written "mujer blanca estupida" (stupid white lady). 

Elyse, God bless her, immediately diagnosed our problem (although I can't remember, or understand, what it was).  And that's when I said, "While you're here . . . ."

I'd given Michele my old digital camera to use until she gets a new one.  Silly girl, she started asking me how to use it.  I pointed out that the reason I had to get a new one was because I didn't know how to use the one she had in her hand.  The new one I'd been given was supposed to be moron proof.  And that's how Elyse was drawn even further into our little world of "crazy".  Here's a sample of our sparkling conversation:

Michele:  "What's this do?"

Elyse:      "It turns it on.  Oh, and the one next to it takes the picture.  Don't do what Mom always did.  She thought she was taking pictures, but she kept turning it off."

Michele:  "How do I plug this doohickey into the computer?"

Elyse:      "Do you know what a memory card is?"

            Me:         "I tried to find it to give to her, but I don't know where it got to."

At this point, Elyse retrieved my new camera, pulled out the memory card and held it up.

Elyse:      "Mommy, this is the reason you couldn't find the card.  Michele, you have to get one of these if you want to use the camera.  Then, you take the card out and plug it in here.  To get one, just go to electronics and show them the camera, point to here, and ask for what goes in there.  You won't even have to remember what it's called.  They'll know just what to give you.  Then, when you leave, they're going to laugh at you."

                        Michele:  "What's this round thing do?"

Elyse: "That's the menu navigation.  Don't touch it.  Everytime Mom did, she would end up doing something, get confused, claimed that she didn't do anything, that it was the stupid camera's fault, and whined until I'd fix it.  If you touch it by accident, don't do anything; just go get Alex (Michele's teen son)."

The conversation went on for quite a while, but you get the general idea.  By the time Elyse was through, she left the room muttering, "I can't believe there're two of them - and they found each other!"

We finally got the calendar filled, two hours later.  It wasn't because the calendar was hard to work; it wasn't.  But in Lucy and Ethel's world, finding the right button to turn the computer on can be a challenge.

On the bright side, our teens can still be roped into helping.  In the future, however, we may be forced to actually, "try my product". 


 Tamara Kells is a writer who lives in Palm, Montgomery County

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