Techno tourists

phone copyMom recently had to buy the book IPhone for Dummies after she switched out her flip phone for the latest, slimmest, whiz-bang of a contraption this side of Seattle. At the time of purchase, the T-Mobile sales guy was in the middle of settling the kind of domestic dispute that can happen when the Friends-and-Family plan becomes the Who-the-Hell-Signed-Up-Deadbeat-Uncle-Lou plan, from which considerable angst tends to spring.

They don’t advertise that particular plan.

When mom switched up phones, we were all pretty excited for her. I mean, think of the aps she’ll be able to use, to, um…  do her yardwork, or read her mystery novel of the month club selection…

To tell you the truth, I don’t know exactly how she’ll be using it. But she’ll be needing more support than our T-mobile guy was willing to provide. Hence the book.

Steph and I were talking once about how our parents make up the digital immigrant generation while our kids are digital natives. The latter were capable of programming the DVR before they were potty trained. The former develop the ability to cope with the flashing lights on the microwave after a power surge by avoiding the kitchen altogether.

I might be dwelling too long on the T-Mobile asshat who sold mom the IPhone without spending a few minutes helping her connect her email and calendar to the dang thing.  She wasn’t even actually sure how to answer a call when she brought it home.

But I do think there is a special place in hell for people who will sell the latest technology to my mom without devoting the time it takes for even a perfunctory introduction. That special place is filled with rotary dial phones and 12-inch black and white TVs with wire hanger antennae covered in aluminum foil.

And the kind of popcorn poppers you have to shake over a stove.

Ooh, and the ice cream makers you have to pour ice and salt in and churn until your arm falls off and the ice cream still won’t freeze and all you have at the end of the night is mushy goo.

Hang on, that’s not hell. It’s every summer from my childhood.

Anyway, I’m planning to spend time with mom to make sure she can access her calendar and her email on her new phone, which is not a problem, except that I have to actually have some quiet time to sit and think it through, and maybe look for an instructional video on YouTube.

We’ll have a little in-service as well about social media, so she can stop saying things like: “I couldn’t get to your blog today because it’s on the Facebook I have at work.”

So, we have digital natives and digital immigrants.

Then we have people like me: digital tourists.

We tourists are the ones who learn just enough about a culture to be in a little bit of awe, and enough of the language to be able to order a beer or ask for the bathroom. We’re the ones demanding the wait staff speak in English and yelling to be better understood.

Digital tourists. The ugly American kind. With our Bermuda shorts and black socks with sandals.

While mom is struggling with whether her Facebook account is at the office or home, and how to answer her phone, I’m having my own issues.

I submit as evidence: A CONVERSATION WITH JACK

Jack: Why did you add me on Snapchat?

Me: Is that the dancing ghost thing on my phone?

Jack: Mmm.

Me: You told everyone on Facebook to add you, so I did. (cue righteously indignant tone) I DO think it’s my responsibility as a mom to keep up with what you’re doing in social media. I’m doing my JOB here, Jack. I’m your MOM in case you’ve forgotten.

Jack: Okay, then why haven’t you looked at any of the snaps I’ve sent you?

Me: hangs head in shame

Jack: You don’t know how to use Snapchat, do you?

Me: shakes head slowly, lips pouting

Jack: sigh.


By the way, T-Mobile, you and your sales guy totally owe me. And I sell advertising on this blog. Cheap.

… makes ‘call me’ sign, while rotating finger on imaginary dial


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photo by: aussiegall

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  1. My mom still has trouble answering her flip phone. And she\’s informed us all not to leave her voice mails because she doesn\’t know how to access them (and is not interested in learning).

    1. I kind of wish I could pull that one off, making everyone believe I don\’t know how to answer voice mail…. She may have something going there.

  2. I\’m just glad I have kids to help their tech-challenged mother. I try so hard to catch up, but it seems the more I learn, the more there IS to learn! I envy the generation who are growing up with technology.