Technology moves so fast it is hard to keep up. New gadgets pose challenges for the less attuned, and can be a source of anxiety and worry.
Youngsters these days have all sorts of gadgets; its part of their era, and computers and computer games are totally the norm. For anyone older, many of these things pose a real challenge. Several years ago I tried to get my mum to start using a mobile telephone; after about eight weeks we gave up. She just didn’t “get” how to switch it on and off. I realized them how deep a fear she had of mechanical things and technology in general.
That telephone wasn’t one of the really small ones we have these days. It looked very much like a normal hand held phone. She just wouldn’t press the “on” switch firmly enough or for long enough – her technique was a kind of wobbly jab at it and no amount of showing her how it was done was going to work.
This sprang to mind today, because telephones have been a constant source of anxiety for my mum for the last four weeks…and a source of frustration for me. Mum is moving in with me and I have asked the phone company to simply transfer her number to my house on the appointed date. I thought that was a simple solution. Mum doesn’t have to tell anyone a new number. Everything would have been just fine, except mum happened to read the small print on her last telephone bill which described her number as being a “fixed line”; since that moment, mum just will not accept that her number can be moved, and she has asked me about it at least once a day since then. All I can say is that I have my fingers crossed that Manx Telecom does remember to make the switch!
I recall the first time mum came across a mobile phone. We were sharing a room in a hotel and I had a mobile which I had left on charge in the room. I was going to a meeting whilst mum was going to watch TV. Upon my return to the room mum was perplexed and I have to say really annoyed. She told me how the TV control didn’t work at all. No matter what she did the TV would NOT come on. And then, it began to flash and make a funny ringing sound. Mum had even called reception to complain; I’m not sure what they thought! But I missed several calls and I’m sure mum could have been dialing Hong Kong in my absence!
This year I decided to try again. Seeing as I’m away a lot I thought it would be really good to get mum using Skype. So I got a good sized laptop and started by just putting pictures on it to get her used to switching on and off, with the incentive of seeing photos as the carrot at the end of the stick. The built in mouse was a disaster, so I got an external one, which she still moves around as if it is a bomb about to explode! After several weeks, I have to say, I’m not sure it is worth persevering, especially as we have some more pressing forms of technology to come to terms with.
As I said, mum is moving house. We have an induction cooker and new ovens to get used to. We have banks of light switches to work out as well. I am only just realizing the depth of my mum’s fear…and I’m sure she is not alone. You may be surprised when I say that in every other way my mum is a very competent and able person; she just doesn’t “do” technology.
Most things aren’t as bad as telephones for mum, I have to say. I’m certain that the new oven, cooker and light switches will be mastered with relative ease. The anticipation is far worse than the event. And this is true of all anxiety…the worrying beforehand is far worse than the actual event.
I admire anyone of an older generation who will step outside their comfort zone and confront their fears. There’s a great quote on my website from an elderly gentleman who persevered in learning how to use a computer, then “Google”, then working out how to purchase a hypnosis mp3 download online, download it successfully and then get it onto iTunes and onto an iPod. I think we had an exchange of 20-30 e-mails during the latter part of the process, but in the end he commented on how easy it all was!