Today I have the pleasure of introducing Lorie Eber, an elder care speaker, educator, and blogger. Her website “Aging Beats the Alternative” and and her blog of the same name can be found here http://www.agingbeatsthealternative.com/ and here http://www.agingbeatsthealternative.com/my-dad/ .
Her guest post today is about the Boomer Generation’s love/hate relationship with technology. Enjoy.
Boomers: Abandon Your Unwarranted Assumptions about Technology
by Lorie Eber
Like most boomers, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. That equation quickly flip-flops when I’m stymied by some seemingly simple tech issue that utterly perplexes me.
We have Steve Jobs to thank for the ubiquitous iPhones, iPads and iPods that now rule the world. I’m online 24/7 social networking to promote my business, but at least I draw the line at yakking on my iPhone in the restroom stall.
When things are clicking along, I love the Internet. It all works wonderfully well until someone spams my Twitter account, hacks into my Facebook password or, worse yet, infects my hard drive. That’s when I start freaking out. Deep feelings of ineptitude wash over me. I know I’m the culprit. I am “user error” personified.
We boomers need to stop the self-flagellation. Don’t worry; I’m not proposing that we become certified geeks. All we need do is make a subtle attitude tweak. It’s due time we abandoned two unwarranted assumptions.
First, we mistakenly believe that technology isn’t marketed and sold until it actually works. Wrong. Adjust your expectations: understand that every tech release is a beta test.
I know the concept feels a bit alien. After all, we grew up watching the lonely Maytag repairman. We expect machines to work. Allow me to illustrate:
- It never occurs to me when I turn on my oven to heat up a casserole that it will burn down my house,
- I don’t worry that my plane will crash on takeoff when I sardine myself into my middle seat on Southwest, and
- I’d be shocked if was doing 70 in my Lexus and it came to a dead stop on the freeway (unless I allowed it to run out of gas—user error
We need to accept the fact that computers, smartphones and other electronic gadgets are not governed by the “Maytag standard,” or anything remotely like it. Gen Yers know this intuitively.
Secondly, we presume that when we get frustrated by anything tech, salvation takes the form of a tattooed, 20 year-old with multiple piercings, dressed in low rise jeans. After all, aren’t they born with tech genes (pun intended)?
For many years I, like most boomers, relied on the “ask a kid” tech fix, believing that they had a direct pipeline to the technology gods.
But lately, they’ve disappointed. Indulge me in a few for instances.
- The Apple-certified Specialist was no more capable than I of configuring my Community College Exchange email account on my iPhone. Unlike me, he didn’t curse Appledom. He simply declared it “the school’s problem,” to be remedied by my IT department,
- My 16 year-old nephew was as inept as I when, in desperation, I sought his help to solve a long-standing tech annoyance. I own a button-laden cheap watch that’s convinced it’s a rooster. By that I mean that every morning at 2:00 am it emits a series of loud, insistent beeps. My stop-gap solution of burying the schizophrenic timepiece in the drawer every night had gotten old. I went with the kid solution, hoping this teenager could take a hatchet to the aggravating barnyard fowl. Instead, his attention span quickly waned and he returned the watch to me, wake-up call intact, with a mumbled “sorry man,” and
- When my printer died, I Googled “best small business printers” but succeeded only in getting buried under an avalanche of impenetrable information. I decided to go brick and mortar and impulsively decided on a HP Officejet, jack-of-all-trades model. Then I equivocated, worrying the all-in-one variety was akin to the quality of food served by a restaurant purporting to specialize in Mexican, Chinese and American food. The acned Office Max sales kid was no help at all. I almost felt sorry for him as he resorted to reading me the product descriptions posted on the shelves.
I’m now convinced that youth does not equate with technological proficiency. The difference between them and us is that the innocents don’t let tech failures infect their psyches. They view every new release as a novel adventure, accept that fact that software is riddled with bugs and that computers are easy prey for viruses. They expect all electronic gizmos to crash regularly.
Boomers: take a lesson from the younger generation. We too can enjoy a love affair with technology. All we need do is lower our performance expectations and stop applying the Maytag standard.