Have you ever encouraged someone to embrace technology and then regretted it?
Me, I’m starting to lament pushing my mom to up her game. Look, she’s 79, and as bright and energetic as anyone half her age. But let’s face it, if you never even cared to know how to use a TV remote, chances are today’s tech is way over your head.
It all started with the iPad, one of the two devices my mom uses (the other one being her cell phone).
Hers was one of the first versions released, way way back when Obama was in the middle of his first term. My mom used it for email and to type her ESL and bible class homework on the Notes app.
Then the virus came along and forced my religious and eminently social mom to learn how to get on Zoom and click on YouTube links. So old and slow was the device, you could prepare a pabellón criollo from scratch while it pulled up a video.
Thus, around Christmas time, I finally convinced my mom to buy a new iPad, one with a keyboard no less.
It arrived when I was away and my mom wouldn’t think to let anyone else set it up. Daniella had to do it. For whatever reason, she decided the iPad must be handled by the person who selected the model and did the online purchase.
It’s been a couple of months since I set up my mom’s iPad and showed her how to get to the home screen, and to fold the keyboard into place so the screen stays upright and the keyboard horizontal. Everything else was pretty similar to the old iPad.
And that, dearest friends, was just the beginning. The tech support calls started the very next day and have continued since. Though my mom never skips the ‘how are you’s’ and ‘how did this or that go’, it’s obvious when she’s calling with a tech question.
I’m hardly what you’d consider tech-savvy, but now my mom thinks I’m the only human on the entire planet who can assist her when she can’t pull up a YouTube video. She could contact any of her other three daughters or two nieces who live nearby, but no, it has to be me.
“How come I can see the video but there’s no sound?” she called to ask the other day.
My diagnosis was that the volume was off and I did my best to explain that she needed to click on the little loudspeaker icon with a line across it. I was, sadly, unsuccessful, and my mom couldn’t pray the rosary broadcast straight from Lourdes that afternoon.
I showed her in person the next day — one of those tiny tech support lessons that’ll make a huge difference I hope.
Then there are the popup messages:
“There’s a message from Google. It says something about a device and delete and security something.”
“Ok mom,” I proposed, “Just hit cancel whenever something you don’t understand from Google pops up.”
“But I’m scared,” she said, as if the Google monster might suck her into the screen and up to that Cloud she hears about.
Do you know what else is kinda funny but causes me to take deep breaths? The way my mom jots down every single step of what I do on one of her many notebooks. I was showing her how to join a WiFi network the other day, and here’s what she wrote down:
- Settings (including a little drawing of the settings icon!)
- Press settings (as if she could do anything other than press?)
- Find Join Network
- Find 4ADF740
- Press 4ADF740
- Type password: 123456789
- Press Enter
She’s terrified of pressing the wrong button as if her error could lead to the deployment of the whole US nuclear weapons arsenal.
I love the saying “No good deed goes unpunished” — possibly because we have no equivalent aphorism in Spanish, my native language, and it took me some time to “get” it.
What do you know, my good deed led to this request from my mom: “Could you help my friend Maria set up her iPad?”
“I’d be glad to, mom,” I heard myself answer. After all, how can I say no to my mom, who gave me life and is the most generous and loving person in the world?
Plus I’m proud of her. She’s finding interesting videos all by herself on YouTube now, positioning herself nicely on the screen while on Zoom and using the mute/unmute function proficiently. And helping her tells me exactly why my 25-year-old-son takes so many deep breaths when I ask him to help me with my tech issues.
One more tech support anecdote:
I had to show and explain to my
about 72 times that she didn’t need to press “enter” to move to the next line when she was
writing an email or using the Notes
app, the way one had to back in the day of the typewriter. I think she didn’t believe me! Then when she’d make changes to her composition, the spacing
would be all off, just the way it is in this paragraph you’re
about to finish reading.
FYI: My mom gave me permission to publish this post.