Too old, so I'll just stand in the dirt with a stick

In a few days, I’ll be 45. Not young, but I don’t consider it old either. I’m not freaked out by my age (there’s only one option to getting older, so I’ll take getting older), but I am starting to get frustrated by what I’m seeing with people my own age and slightly older.

I have a friend, who is about my age (maybe a year or two difference). For Christmas, her boyfriend got her a Kindle. I thought this would be a great gift for her, as she reads all the time. Her reaction? First, she couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Then, she couldn’t figure out how to connect wirelessly (it’s not a 3G). Finally, she just put it back in the box, stating that it was “too complicated” and she wasn’t going to use it. It’s not the first time she’s done something like this, although she is a very intelligent and educated woman.

One of my co-workers who is a few months younger than I am, when confronted by new technology (the iPhone, for crying out loud!), claimed it was “too confusing” with “too many options” and she’d never consider getting one because of that. This isn’t the first thing she’s claimed was too confusing/too complicated, and she also is an intelligent and educated woman.

I won’t even go there about my mother, who although is older than I am (63), claims that everything from a laptop to a Roku to the CD player in her car is “too complicated” and that she has no use for any of it.

I look at these three examples (and they’re just three in several examples from many different people) and think that they are all missing out on everything technology has to offer. I’m just stunned that someone would dismiss something because it’s too complicated, especially when there are so many resources for support out there. When I had trouble connecting my Roku, I called and got assistance to get it working (it took maybe 15 minutes tops). When I got my new iPhone, I played around with it to become more familiar with it, then went online to search out all the cool features it had. My Kindle? Same thing. When I wanted to know how to borrow books from the library using my Kindle, I went online and looked it up.

I’m not a super techno geek. My background is in Behavioral Science, not Engineering. I don’t read technology or computer journals in my spare time. I’m more likely to follow the DIY Home Decorating blog than a 21st Century Technology blog. A few years ago, when my daughter wanted to get me an iPhone for Christmas, I was the first one to say, “Gee, I don’t know how much I’ll use it.” However, I was the first one in line when the newest model came out (and I use it for EVERYTHING). I use it to surf the web, download and use apps, and text. Don’t get me starting on texting–“Why don’t you just make a phone call?” I’ve been asked by these people, who look at me like I have 100 heads when the subject of texting comes up. Regardless of how many times I explain the benefits to texting, they Just. Don’t. Get. It. (I largely text my kids.)

To me, I think that (1) it’s foolish to have technology at one’s fingertips that is largely user-friendly (or at the very least, with readily available supports) that is beneficial and not use it, and (2) if you don’t learn to use technology, then what happens when technology moves forward and one is still standing in the dirt with a stick because technology is “too confusing” or “too difficult”?

Maybe it’s me having a mid-life crisis because I’m seeing so many my age who are becoming stagnant. I love my Kindle. I love my iPhone. I love my laptop that connects wirelessly to my modem. I love the technology in my life and what I can do with it. Mostly I love how it has made so information so easily accessible to me and how I can learn anything I want.

I don’t want to be one who is standing in the dirt with a stick.

I agree when it comes to myself- I want to keep up and not be standing in the dirt with a stick. My kids would get too irritated with me about it, anyway. But at work, I get paid $30 each by people that don’t know how to use their scanner with their computer, or don’t even have a scanner. So I’m okay with other people standing in the dirt with a stick, as long as I get my money.

I tend to be late to the technology party but thankfully my wife and her parents are up to speed. I’m not a technophobe I just need to be really convinced a technology is a substantial upgrade from the previous before I waste time and money. My sisters age 44 and 47. Scared of downloading music, Facebook, dvr’s etc. More than that they’ll tell u all about their resistance. Good lord do they sound stupid and inflexible.

I’m not afraid of technology, but I don’t want to wrap my life around it. My daughter has a Nook and while I like some of the features, I’d still rather hold a real book. I have the most basic freebie Nokia phone because I don’t want a smartphone. I refuse to be tethered to a phone number. I refuse to be one of those people I see in restaurants who can’t seem to look away from the screen. We went to breakfast one morning and all four people at a nearby table were futzing with their phones. Conversation? Nope.

My husband has an iPhone that he uses for work and I’ll admit it was nice when we were on a road trip to be able to look things up as we went along. But if that hadn’t been an option, I wouldn’t have missed it. I managed to figure out to run Netflix on our new TV and thru Roku for our little TV. I’m pretty good at figuring out new software and with minimal cussing, I can usually learn to work new devices. I installed and set up the wireless router in our house. But I don’t think I’m standing in the dirt because I don’t want bluetooth or satellite radio or a Facebook page. None of those things interest me. I’m not a technophobe - I’m also not going to stand in line all night for the latest and greatest toys. If I find something that will truly make my life better or more fun, I’ll get it. Otherwise, no thanks.

Now get off my lawn!! :stuck_out_tongue: Incidentally, I’ll be 58 in 4 weeks.

OMG–I just got an email from this friend, complaining about the GPS and the MP3 player that her boyfriend has bought for her–both of which she refused to use.

She wrote: “GPS (made him take it back, almost threw his out the window because it was making me nuts and have banned it from my car)”.

Seriously??? My GPS helps me get to places I might never had gone, plus I never worry about getting lost, as I can simply plug in my GPS and hit Home and it gets me back to familiar grounds. Is it 100% accurate all the time? Nope. (It earned the nickname LB for Lying Bitch when we went to Pittsburgh.) However, it’s been right on the mark about 99% of the time. (And, yes, I can read a map perfectly fine, as well as use Mapquest.)

Wow. I’m just dumbfounded. I’m not sure why this is bothering me so much.

I am quite a bit older than you, and I find that I just don’t need a lot of the new technology. I love my iPod, I obviously like being online . . . But an iPad? eReaders? iPhone? No interest in them.

Younger people who don’t remember what it was like before all these gadgets are like I am with TV: I can’t imagine a world without TV, but my parents just didn’t think it was that important and preferred reading a book.

This isn’t exactly what you’re talking about but it contains so much stupid I have to share. A coworker and I got new iPhones, the 4S. Not long after, we simultaneously admitted in a meeting that we’d given the old 3Gs to our kids to play the (still working) games, and shared a little chuckle that our 4- and 7-year-olds “have” iPhones.

Which prompted an outburst from this luddite co-worker (who is stupid for an uncountable number of reasons): “You are KIDDING me! What kind of a world do we live in when tiny children have iPhones and I don’t??” Cue big “Durrrr!!!” face and much sputtering and eye-rolling (which no one shared in).

We just shrugged. We live in a world where you, stupid bitch, can’t tell the difference between BUYING a tiny child an iPhone, with data and cell coverage and GIVING the same tiny child a non-working obsolete phone that has functioning games they can play and an ipod they can use. Idiot.

I’m educated, work in the IT world, and think I’m reasonably techno-philic. But some things are - to me, any way - so poorly designed that it’s not worth the effort to try to figure it out. There’s a maxim in the web design world that says, “If the user can’t find a feature they want, it’s not there”, or something along those lines.

I think simple is best. If the interface is too complicated for people to make use of a function, you’ve wasted your time designing and implementing it.

Now where did I put my stick???

It’s one thing if someone just doesn’t get into Gadget X. It’s quite another when someone decides that they’re just “too old” to figure out anything new. I firmly believe that “use it or lose it” absolutely applies to your brain.

Case in point: my mother. She’ll be 75 in a few days. She has a Facebook page, uses her computer regularly, loves her Tivo, and bought an iPad a few months ago. She’s pretty good with all of them. She also comes across as someone 10-20 years younger than she is (and that’s not just me saying that - she’s had a spell of bad health, and at least 2 nurses and 1 doc were blown away when, after talking with her, grabbed her chart and looked at her birthdate.) She’ll hang out with all of us as equals, is up to date on current events, and in general is very much not an old person at all.

However, she’s one of the very few people in her age group I can say that about. Heck, my Dad is a good example; he refuses to learn enough about the Tivo to even press the “no thanks, stay on this channel” when the “hey, I’m supposed to record X right now, can I change the channel?” dialog pops up. For those of you without Tivos, it’s a matter of pressing the down arrow then the enter button. Every time. You just need to remember “Press Down, then press Enter” whenever that thing pops up. He won’t do it, instead yells at my mother to come and do it. He has a cell phone, but will only use it to make calls - he won’t check the voice mail. Computer? No way. But he will as me/my mother/whoever to look things up for him.

And you know what? He’s old. There’s no two ways about it - you interact with him, you get “old man.” He’s given up, not only on technology, but on a lot of life stuff. To be fair, he’s had his share of physical issues that I’m sure take a lot out of him, but he’s also bored and depressed a lot. I think he’d be happier if he made an effort to learn… something. Doesn’t matter what. But pick something new and go figure it out!

When I’m 75, you better bet I wanna be my mother and not my Dad.

I’m with FCM in preferring to hold an actual book over an e-reader. (Full disclosure–I haven’t ever tried an e-reader, so I can’t swear that I wouldn’t actually prefer it.)

phall, those Jitterbug commercials and ads must aggravate you no end.

Me too.

I’m fairly technically versed, but I have to admit that it’s very frustrating trying to keep up with it all. It doesn’t help that MS keeps changing its OSs so that I cannot explain to my parents how to do something like change a font size over the phone because I’m on a different version.

Trying to so something very simple, like update Java, is way more complicated than it should be. Here is a conversation I had with my mother recently:

Mom: “I keep clicking on the message to upload the latest version of Java, but then it keeps telling me that I have to update to the latest version of Java.”

Me: “Did you just download the file or did you actually extract it?”

Mom: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Well, find the downloaded documents folder in “My Documents” and click on it.”

Mom: “How in the world would I know how to do this on my own?”

Me: “Hell if I know.”

And I shouldn’t need an IT degree to get my iPod to synch with iTunes because the virus protection software hasn’t caught up with the latest version of iTunes.

44 y/o dude.

I’ve managed to stay behind technology by about 4-5 years pretty consistently. Mostly this is because I won’t afford the latest thing, and because I’ve gotten by this long without it so how necessary is it? Now, I’m not exactly the OP’s target because I’m generally competent with technology when I need to be, but the further tech gets from “bang the rocks together guys” the more I miss the days when you’d bang the rocks together. I mean, I think tech is cool and mind-blowing and an awesome example of what humans get get up to even as they devise new ways of screwing each other over, but I really have trouble letting myself get too dependent on something that requires a highly specialized battery that is unlikely tobe available in just a couple years.

I’m 58 and less of a geek it’d be difficult to find but I do love my toys. I don’t have an iPad but plan on getting one when the 3 comes out. I have an iPhone 4s which is blue toothed to my car, so I can answer the phone without breaking the law and listen to music I like without having the change the CDs every second day.

FB keeps me up-to-date with my friends and their doings. My digital camera is awesome and I use it daily.

I turned 48 Sunday, adore my computers, love my iPhone and use it all the time, and LOVE my Kindle. Now, I do love real books, but I read so fast, that when our family goes on a trip, I used to lug a stack of books along to keep up with me. Now I just pack the Kindle. Between the iPhone and Kindle, I’m never bored at any doctor’s office or meeting I’m stuck at. However, I’m a high school teacher, so I get all the latest stuff showed to me all the time.

There’s nothing wrong with staying a few years behind the cutting edge. You’re more likely to get a stable and serviceable product. It’s certainly not unheard of for the newest versions of software or hardware to be buggy, my own recent experience being a case in point. I’d recently gotten a new smart phone (second smart phone, first Android phone), and my service provider botched an update to the Android operating system. I had to roll back the update and reinstall all my apps.

Now that I come to think of it, Android is a good illustration of why some people are techo-phobic. I really, really like my device and find it incredibly useful. However, I’ve had to spend more time that I would have liked to tweak it and bring its performance up to snuff. IMHO to enjoy owning an Android you have to be at least somewhat tech savvy, or otherwise at least have a spouse or other household member who can optimize your device for you. In other words, you must either be a geek, or love one! :smiley:

I hear you. I’m 59, and if I could afford a smartphone, I’d have one in a heartbeat.

OTOH, I can feel a certain amount of “It’s just too much trouble to deal with this”-itis creeping up on me. I’m starting to think that instead of doing my own bicycle maintenance, I’ll take it to the shop. And maybe I don’t HAVE to replace the flooring myself – you can pay people to do that stuff. It worries me a little, because I don’t want to be That Person, That Can’t Be Arsed to Do Even EASY Stuff. And I’ve always been handy, and prided myself in being able to do lots of things.

Age creeps up on you sometimes. Of course, the stiff, aching joints and the bifocals that STILL don’t help you to actually SEE don’t help either. :mad:

I agree that this is the crux of it. It doesn’t matter what the technology is. That’s just the symptom. But when a person hits that wall where learning something new is too much bother - that’s when a person is officially old. I live in fear of that day.

I’m only 25, but I’m “old at heart” so I figured I’d chime in. I resisted and loathed cell phones for as long as I could. I didn’t even get a cell phone until I had graduated college with my master’s degree in 2009, many many years after everyone else had been bugging me and bugging me to get one. I thought they were silly, expensive, vain devices etc, and I held out as long as I could, until I realized that I was just always borrowing other people’s phones to make calls and I wanted the convenience.

Now I have a nice smartphone, and it gets a fair bit of use, but I am definitely NOT one of those people who are constantly on their phone texting at dinner, or when they go over to their friend’s house, etc. I still see this as anti-social behavior, and I consider myself a fairly “responsible” phone owner.

I’m not much of a reader, even though I really love reading, I just tended not to do much of it. When the ereaders started coming out I basically just ignored them and thought of them as a fad. It wasn’t until I was watching one of my particularly smart and polite students reading one in my classroom one day that I started to think, “maybe these things aren’t so bad…” A few months later, and after many conversations with my younger students who are more with the times than I am, I broke down and bought a nook color. I’ve already read several books on it, and I really like it! Now since I work offshore, it’s vastly more convenient to bring my book libraries in digital form on a small, thin ereader, rather than fly with several standard books in my bag.

For what it’s worth, I hated myspace and resisted facebook for a time too, and even now I only log into facebook every couple of days or so. I have found the value in it but I’m not addicted, and I don’t get all upset about what goes on in Facebookland.

So anyhow, I guess I’m just saying… there’s always a happy balance to be had with new technology. I am really happy I’ve embraced more and more of it as I am getting older, and enjoyed them responsibly. I know now that it’s possible to have a smartphone and not be a compulsive texter, that an ereader is actually a nice, viable alternative to paper books, and that facebook can be a good way for me to keep up with friends, birthdays, events, etc, and not get addicted to checking it ever 5 minutes.

Count me in, even though I’m only 25 now, as an old guy who embraces and enjoys new technologies :slight_smile:

I was talking over the holiday dinner about how annoying it is that people still expect “middle-aged” people to be out of touch with information technology - we’ve spent out entire professional life keeping up with it. Boy, do I feel silly now.

Actually, most of the “adults” agreed it is getting harding to keep up. I don’t find it hard, because I don’t; I typically let three or four generations go by before I upgrade. I have to replace my cell phone soon because people are starting to joke about it having a rotary dial.

But I don’t want an ereader; I like books.