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The technology generation gap June 11, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.

Picture the scene. It explains the technology generation gap and all the more important, elucidates (IMHO)* a main reason for it. After all, anyone can be taught to use a computer, a camera or a gadget but not everyone thinks they can be.

Witnessed today at a busy chemist’s photo booth, desktop machine thingy that prints out images from a memory card …

Mother and daughter stroll up and look interestingly at the screen. It’s obvious from the camera hanging off mother’s arm that they want to print some pictures. The mother puts down her bag on the counter and searches for her glasses. In the meantime the daughter has taken the camera, taken the card out and turned the kiosk towards her in order to put the card in. The mother looks up and from under her glasses utters a cautionary “What are you doing now dear ?” sort of line ** … the daughter has the card in the correct slot and is tapping the touchscreen.

It’s obvious the mother is lost but is vaguely following what is going on, when she sees some familiar photos appear. From this point on all logical conclusions and correct choices go out the window. Mammy could, if she just thought about it a bit, figure out what is going on because a command such as “Touch the pictures you want” is fairly straightforward. In an effort to contribute and make sure the daughter doesn’t choose the wrong picture the mother turns the kiosk back towards her and taps the screen. Chaos ensues !

The daughter gives her an inquisitive look as if to say “What are you at Mammy ?” but the mother continues to tap-tap-tap at nothing in particular. “What are you at Mammy ?” says the girl again … at this point the mother gives up, baffled and turns the screen back towards the girl, takes off her glasses and looks for a comforting, knowing nod from the counter assistant. “Youngsters and their gadgets !” smiles the mother, happy enough to let her whizz kid daughter do the computer work because she knew that she wouldn’t have done it correctly anyway … because she wasn’t expecting to know and wasn’t expecting to be able … and therein lies the problem.

Nobody expects anyone, off the bat, to be able to work a finicky gadget or a computer – but if you never expect to be able to learn it, do it or understand it, you never will.

* In My Humble Opinion
** I only saw this scenario, not heard it but I’d guess the talk was along these lines.



1. tammara - June 12, 2007

This is my mother! She is afraid of the computer. The computer she and Dad have had for so long that it is frigging out of date completely. It gives her error messages and does weird things whenever she tries to use it because she EXPECTS it to do that. She calls for Dad, and he moves her aside and fixes whatever it is, and then she won’t touch it again.

I remember waiting until my husband (the computer software programmer, at that time) left on a week-long trip to approach the computer. I needed the time and aloneness it takes to just go ahead an mess it up. Because that’s how we learn! Now if I could only get Dad to go out of town for a bit…

2. Rambling Man - June 12, 2007

yep exactly the same as my dear mother – but shes great at it now – time is one thing … once they have the time and they get it out of their head that they can’t do it and the only people who expects them not to be able to do it is themselves then it’ll improve … that said, i’ve seen people who do something correctly 99 times in a row and then are as clueless as ever on the 100th try, even though its exactly the same – maybe i’ll write a book about it.

if often wondered that when we get to be “elderly” will we have as much trouble with the emerging technologies of the time ?

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