Technologically illiterate

There is a general assumption sitting out there conveying the idea people over 40 are technologically illiterate. I thought this was extreme bias until I moved to a small Northeast Texas town. It appears to be rampant in major metropolises as well as rural areas.

My sister is, let me think how old my sister is, 55 years old. She is an event planner in a small suburbia outside of Pittsburgh. This family owned company still writes all appointments down on a large wall calendar and manually maintains all accounting in a ledger book. She does not utilize email, text or electronic communication with any vendors. She still calls and visits the local bakeries for cakes and pastries, often carrying photos of what the customer wants. She is unable to switch employers because she is technologically illiterate. Her boss is a control freak and wants no changes to the system. My lovely sister does not want to learn how to access the internet, nor does she have any interest in doing so. For her occupation and stage of life, it is socially acceptable for her bliss to continue. Keeping staff uneducated and in the dark seems to work for entrepreneurs.

The few people I have met in Paris, Texas seem to have the same lack of communication skills. I still have a Houston area code telephone number. When sharing my phone number, I am often informed, they are unable to place a long distance call to me from home or work. Either their employer does not allow (control and being cheap) long distance calls or their mobile phones have extremely limited regional service. It is more often than not, they inform me they do not know how to text nor do they have the capability. These are not retired or stay at home housewives. These are “business people”.

I interviewed for a professional position, a few years back, with a snot nosed twenty something. During the interview, he held up a Blackberry and informed me everyone employed there is required to keep their appointments electronically. He also went on to say the learning curve for programs they used, MS Office Suite, would take time to learn. When he finished making his assumptions and was arrogantly quiet, I told him to hand me his laptop so I could take it apart, reprogram the hard drive and put it back together. He seemed kind of shocked. He went on to explain his mother didn’t know anything about computers. While he was blabbering, my Blackberry was vibrating. I took it out of my purse, checked it and put it back – in the middle of an interview. I never would have done this if I wanted the position. I told him his mother never taught 60 people how to convert manual files to an electronic system in the 70’s either. His mother didn’t convert a financial institution from a manual accounting system to a zero paper system in 4 days, which included placing a PC on every desk and personally training everyone the fabulous benefits of every MS Office program available, including PowerPoint presentations. I am quite sure his mother had “other” talents. By the way, the interviewer and his company went bankrupt within the year. One of my friends got the job I interviewed for and she is still unemployed to this day.

Back off with embracing the idea, old people don’t know what to do with a PC, tablet or any other “hand-held device”. My father was in his 70’s and was more PC savvy than most people I have done business with. After he died, and I figured out his password, I brought his PC up to see eagles flying, flags waving and hearing the Marine Corps hymn playing full blast on his computer. He thrived on researching ship manifests for immigrant relatives, replaced drives in his CPU and conducted all business electronically on the PC. I still miss his emails and humor and most especially him-very dearly.

People do not like change. It is easier to be oblivious. Their world will remain ever so small without the advantages of world-wide access. It also cost a few bucks to be connected to cyber space. I view it as a necessary utility fee, like electricity!  Don’t get me started with how we are all being gouged for fees. I remember paying $.25/minute cell phone service. My boss would imitate how fast we would convey information when calling him. When the cost changed to the plans we have now, everyone relaxed and spoke in full sentences.

I am too nebby not to know what is going on out there. I am so afraid of missing something. The sad thing is – a lot of people still don’t know – they don’t know.

 

 

 

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