The age of the millenials has arrived, for some time already, and it is beyond their comprehension to even consider life without some form of internet technology or wireless device. For those of us who fall into the non-millennial category, this is quietly amusing when trying to explain the way it was “in the old days” and watching baffled faces trying to wrap their minds around life before computers. However, the reverse is far more terrifying and that is when our faces are either totally blank or bewildered with terror at the notion of trying to figure out the most basic operation of a computer/mobile phone/ipad/laptop/smart watch/etc. Not all fall into this category since we are all gifted with different abilities, just as it was at school with maths or languages. Unfortunately I fall into the muck and mire of the totally bewildered and thoroughly terrified, mostly because the area of technology is not “my thing” and I’ve never had to make it so, thankfully because these sorts of things are far more my Darling’s “thing”.
That is my confession: my total lack of know-how with these matters of technology.
However, I did feel a certain responsibility towards learning the basics of computer operation way back when our girls were still in nappies, before the early phases of nursery school, since I realised that they would need to learn to manage this computer thing going forward and as their mother, I would have to have some inkling of what was going on. Added to this, I do recall a small frisson of excitement and anticipation about computers as I had heard such wonderful accounts of being able to ask the computer anything and how incredibly interesting and EASY it was to navigate….
On to the first internet cafe, which city this was in I can’t seem to recall which is probably a blessing as I may embarrass myself even further! I snuck inside the door of the establishment where the computer’s blank faces awaited a keyboard command. I strode up to one such blank face, moved the mouse (I had read a bit about that rat!) and the screen, which I have since learned is called a monitor (eye roll noted) came to life and I clicked the mouse and waited… I waited a bit longer then I hit the enter key as I had noticed other more learned folk do but still not much happened. I recall leaving the cafe very quickly and as unobtrusively as possible in the hopes that none of my feeble attempts at “going online” had been observed!
Since I was in my very early 30’s, I was filled with confidence, bolstered by friends who really knew what they were talking about, and as game as ever to try this online thing but I had to do it with the right sort of attitude, I needed an accomplice. I quietly asked a friend who lived in the same gated community and where our children played together in the communal rose garden park, if she knew how to operate a computer to which she even more quietly replied in the negative, phew, I was not alone and we both felt the need to “up-skill” ourselves.
I looked in the classified section of the local newspaper to find a basic computer course for adults and was relieved to find a willing teacher in the very next suburb to ours. We set off with nervous chatter and arrived at a typical suburban home where a reassuringly housewifely-looking woman greeted us at her front door – we had been dreading the sleek, chic executive-looking type who would scoff at our lack of knowledge.
Before we sat down at the desk I asked her if she was prepared to teach beginner-beginners, the likes of the two of us. Her reply was in the affirmative and that it would not be difficult, if we would take hold of the mouse and move the cursor onto the icon….. My eyes glazed over, as did my friend’s, and I stopped her where she assumed was the beginning. I boldly asked her to begin at the VERY beginning, meaning plugging the power cord into the wall socket and flicking the switch! She paused, took a breath and agreed to back up to the very beginning, for the likes of the two of us!
Thanks to her patience, us two hapless housewives learned the basics of computer operation centered around email, word and xcel, just the very basics mind you. Well, we felt empowered to take on the new era, or so we thought….!
Mobile phones progressed from large brick-like devices with pull-out antennas, until they became as small as a packet of cigarettes, able to fit into a shirt pocket. We’ve seen them grow back again into the large smartphones that we now find ourselves inseparable from.
The same can be said for computers which began by taking up many rooms in order to store the information that it so cleverly computed; to rather cumbersome personal home computers that took pride of place on many a study desk; then the laptops arrived and the first ones required a rather large briefcase to lug them around in but thankfully they have evolved to the very light, thin and some even flexible, models of today.
The saddest part of this hardware evolution is that my personal computer skills have not kept pace with the devices, beyond the basic know-how of the latest upgrades according to our contract/package, much to the irritation of the young person working at the mobile phone upgrades counter.
Roll in 2020 and all that has come with it, including a need to embark on a learning adventure that I was assured was “easy/simple/anyone could do it” and that would actually pay me in Euros – what is not to jump at, I asked myself? I checked that there was no specific technological training required, neither any hardware other than a basic laptop. On to creating an account, login, make the online purchase and you’re practically done!
If I have the courage to back up these past painful 4 days…. The level of humility is beyond imagination: I have never felt more naked in all my life, coupled with frustration, irritation and a whole lot of self loathing that translates to anger at my enthusiasm and sense of adventure because all I want to do is hit cancel and apply for a refund!
Ps- I have nothing but tremendous RESPECT for my Mum and my MIL for taking on the mobile phone era, in their 70’s & 80’s, with so much courage and success, I salute you both!