How old do you have to be these days to pull the "I don't understand technology" card?

I’m 59 as of a few days ago and desktop computers have been a pervasive part of my existence since my mid 20’s. Unless you’re living on a commune or from another less developed country I can’t imagine anyone my age or less saying they don’t “get” computers or smartphones. It would be like saying you don’t “get” driving or shopping at the supermarket.

And to be specific I’m not talking about being a gearhead. I mean not understanding basic setup or use of desktop or mobile PCs for browsing or using MS office type apps. Does anyone pull the “I don’t get technology” card these days who is less than 60?

“How do you put two carburetors on one engine?” That goes back forty or fifty years!

Seriously, how many people do auto repair work at home any more? It used to be a lot more common. (Do auto repair techs work on their own cars at home?)

A lot of us learned computing from the old Commodore machines: Pet, VIC20, C64, C128, and Amiga. Lovely family of products! The “job control language” was the simplest imaginable: “RUN”

Nowadays, computers aren’t as accessible, not as intuitive. We’re largely stuck doing what someone else has made possible. We don’t do anywhere near as much programming.

(But one might say the same about automobiles: you can only go where someone has built a road, as opposed to being out on a horse, where you can go damn near anywhere.)

I’ve had several older people tell me (these are friends, not coworkers or customers) that they had a problem with the “package”, the physical computer. Many are much more skilled with a smartphone than I am, while still being unable to use a desktop or laptop. For some applications (eg Google searching) this isn’t a big deal, but I don’t think word processing on an iPhone or Android phone is anything like word processing on a desktop. (Unless it’s Windows.)

For me a desktop is easier, as that’s what I learned as a kid, but smartphones may have been designed to be used by people who weren’t tech-literate, and even if they weren’t, the UI is completely new, so it had to be easy to learn. (It’s not entirely successful. My mother has a smartphone but hasn’t learned any features that aren’t on a flipphone.)

Personal computers started becoming available in the early 1980s (I’m talking about things such as Commodore 64s and Apple IIs) and PCs were similar to today’s PCs in 1995 (earlier for Macs), so I tend to think of the birth year of 1975 as the “cut off”.

But in another thread on this forum, it seems the key is almost everyone learns computer skills by themselves, so if someone didn’t have a computer when young, they won’t learn unless they actually buy a computer and set out to learn… even if they’re quite young. Cheap smartphones seem cheaper (after inflation) than desktop computers were back in the day, and may be more accessible for the purpose of teaching basics, but you don’t seem to get the same learning opportunities with them. Many smartphones didn’t even come with file managers (seriously!).

I’m 38, and I don’t get why somebody would want to carry around an updated version of the “brick” phones when you can get a flip phone that fits comfortably in a shirt pocket and still leaves room for other things. Everything was going really great for a while–computers, phones, and almost everything else were getting smaller and more convenient–and then suddenly society lost its collective mind and wanted big, wildly expensive, unwieldy phones.

I’m 55 and I’ll tell you right now I have trouble with my smart phone. it’s the first time I’ve had one and - not sure how big a problem this is - I’ve dropped it a few times.

for example, where did the damn app drawer go? used to be when things disappeared I could always go in the app drawer and find it. now the drawer is gone.

you think I should feel bad about this? I don’t see why. people have different experiences, you know. not everybody works in an office. :mad:

I’m thinking my next phone will be a small flip phone and then I will have something tablet sized for when I want to be online and mobile.

Me. Sorry.

I’m far more comfortable with chainsaws and carburetors than this new phone I had to update to. My old Tracfon was perfectly fine for my needs.

I’m 71, and have been using computers for about 45 years, since the early 70s. I’ve been using Macs since the late 80s. I’m perfectly comfortable with my desktop Mac Pro, but I can see how some people my age didn’t have the same workplace experiences I had, and are not as comfortable with computers as I am.

That being said… I have an iPhone 6, but am not nearly taking advantage of its capabilities; I just don’t have a reason to do so. I just don’t spend as much time away from home as I used to.

A lot of people who don’t understand technology have just not bothered to keep up with it, or never learned it in the first place.

I’m a little older than you and I don’t get tech for the most part; and I could happily live without it. What surprises me is how many younger people I know (20-40 say) who also don’t “get” it. Oh, they can maybe turn one on and push some buttons but about as much as the average driver can operate a car. Knowing how to check the tire pressure, in a sense, is just totally beyond them.

I “get” computers. I design embedded systems.
But, I don’t use Facebook or Twitter, so I am getting to the point where I’m one of “those guys.” It’s less about not understanding technology, but not understanding Applications.

You make a good point there are 20 and 30 something people I know who are very tech-savvy with PCs notebooks and smartphones but often have not the vaguest clue what is going on with their car as a machine even for basic stuff like changing a tire or a windshield wiper blade.

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It depends on the person. My dad is 85 years old and at least as tech savvy as I am. Smartphone, tablet, desktop: he uses them all the time with no problems. But he used computers his entire professional career.

A flip phone is great if all you’re concerned about is making phone calls and sending a few (but not many) texts. And that fits what some people need, which is great for them. But it’s not great if one of the “other things” you’d make room for was a separate device to do all the stuff you can’t do on a flip phone. (Also, I think you’re overestimating the size difference just a little.)

Yeah, on the flipside, my parents are 68 and 64 and neither, to my knowledge, has ever used a computer, nor a mobile phone (minus borrowing mine or someone else’s after it having been dialed.) They bought me a VIC-20 back in the early-mid-80s and a C128 in the late 80s, but they’ve never operated one for themselves. Similar situation with most of my uncles and aunts, around that same age.

Many people in our age bracket (mid to late 50’s) have never been exposed to computers in their workplace and just aren’t interested enough in them to spend their free time learning about them. Plumbers, painters, waitresses, retail workers, etc, all may have to use a point of sale computer, or a PC for work orders, sure doesn’t mean they know more than that, or want to.

My first exposure to a computer was in 1996 (I was 36) and going back to college.

I’m 77 and just bought my first smart phone—in general I’m about ready to smack it with a hammer and go back to a flip phone.

68 here and I am fine around computers but have no use for cell phones. I have never sent a text in my life. I only carry the phone when I take a trip or take the wife shopping so she can tell me what door she is coming out of. A few weeks ago I figured out how to take a pic and e email it from my phone. When it came to running programs for diagnostics on the truck fleet I worked for I was by far the strongest one but only because I understood the mechanics and knew what I was looking for.

I’m going to guess that most people posting on an internet forum are at least somewhat comfortable with computer-y tech…

That said, the youngest person I regularly hang out with who is really uncomfortable with computers &c is in her 80s.

Yep, plenty of them. Although since I mainly see it at work, I’m not sure how much of it is true and how much is trying to get out of work. Some of it is certainly true- handwriting a report and then proofreading and making corrections after someone else types it takes at least as long as typing the report yourself. And there are people in their 40’s who do this. They are the same people who prefer faxing to scanning, although faxing has many disadvantages when compared to scanning.

I get “I’m computer illiterate” from 18-year-olds. Some people just aren’t interested in learning technology.

OTOH, I’m 64 and work at a computer Helpdesk.

It’s not age; it’s whether you want to put in the effort to learn it?