Technology Is a Foreign Language

I bought a new laptop last week. The woman who assisted in the Seattle store was nearly my age, as rare in an Apple store as in Trader Joe’s. She obviously knew the language or she wouldn’t have been there, but she didn’t flaunt it like the youngsters do. She probably still remembers the foreign language she learned in high school too. Some people just have an affinity. Also she and her four sisters shop at HUBBUB every year, which gave us common ground.

I bought a new laptop last week. Tammy, who assisted me in the Seattle store, was nearly my age, as rare in an Apple Store as in Trader Joe’s. She obviously knew the language or she wouldn’t have been there, but she didn’t flaunt it like the youngsters do. She probably still remembers the foreign language she learned in high school too.

Two days later, I dropped off the newby―still sealed in the box―and my “old” computer at the Tacoma store for data transfer. I have never been able to bring myself to pay someone to clean my house, but I had no trouble paying someone to transfer data, which is probably a lot easier than cleaning house. Kind of like using a roomba to vacuum, I expect: just plug it in, push a button, and let it do its thing; but I wasn’t going to go there. I had xenoglossophobia too. (Yep, there really is a word for fear of foreign languages; and it’s a lot more interesting than “technophobia.”)

My mother’s computer

The pony-tailed guy who helped me was snippy. He was working with a table load of elders and was probably skating rapidly toward the end of his last nerve. Whoever told me the transfer would take 48 hours, he said, should not have. “We always say 72 hours.” (Maybe it takes longer in Tacoma than in Seattle.)

Twenty-four hours later I got a message saying it was ready. Which meant I could pick it up on the way to Seattle to spend a solo overnight with the Littles, rather than on the way home. I signed up for a 90-minute “open studio” workshop to ask a bunch of questions I’ve had for a long time followed by a 60-minute camera class cuz why not as long as I was there.

Emily was a sweet young thing and talked to me like we belonged to the same club, even though she was better at foreign languages. She and I both commiserated with Mary, whom it seemed had lost 1000s of photos because her grandson told her she could remove them from her phone after she put them in the Cloud. (iCloud, I learned from Tammy, is backup, not storage.) Smarty pants millennial, busted! Emily helped her remember, though, that he had moved them to Google Photos! And there they all were. Phew! I felt her pain, and her relief.

In the next workshop, Kyle was like a robot programmed to work with stupid old people without letting them get on his last nerve. Even though every person told him they take a lot of photos, he started at the very beginning and stuck with his automaton script. Maybe it’s a gender thing, rather than an age thing.

In three visits to the Apple Store, I observed that all the people at the workshop tables were late silent generation and early boomers. Gen X and xennials wouldn’t be caught dead, I don’t suppose; and millennials speak technology as a first language.

Enter the Littles, ages four and two (post-millennials) who came from the womb speaking technology. After the moms left, we had movie/pizza night. Elliot was in charge of the movie. They don’t have a TV, but as a special treat, the DVD was cast from the laptop to a stand alone monitor they inherited (E’s mom taught me the word “cast” and how to do it when I got a new generation flatscreen TV and wanted to watch Netflix on it). Elliot knows all about casting and pausing, and at one point decided—having seen the movie before—to skip several scenes and deftly made it happen.

The next morning they got more screen time before breakfast and getting dressed (it was 5:10am), which, Elliot informed could happen on “staying-in” day—i.e. the weekend. I didn’t know the truth of that as their screen time is very limited, but whatever.


Later in the morning, the moms still gone, things started getting a bit out of hand and I let them have screen time again. (I told them it was a special Gigi treat lest they think they could get away with it another day.) Adrian decided he was in charge this time, and opened the kid’s shows they can watch, picked Wild Kratts (my personal favorite), after ejecting the previous night’s DVD from the drive and returning it to its case, plugged in headphones for whatever reason, skipped the introduction, changed his mind and picked a different show, paused it while I changed his diaper. Did I mention he is two?


I’m back at home now trying to figure out how use the Photos program on my new Mac, having decided, finally, to put on my big girl pants and let go of the no-longer-supported iPhoto and whining to myself about it looking different, while grumbling about the changes in my WordPress blog site.

In the new year I AM going to start using Instagram, after I figure out how. And I’m considering hiring someone (whom I know from last spring’s Whidbey writing retreat and who advertises as “non-geeky, friendly help”) to create a better website for me. I also learned from her blog not to switch to the new WordPress until they work out the bugs. I switched back to classic layout. I figured out how to do it myself.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty excited to have this sweet one-and-a-half pound space grey MacBook Air that cost about as much as a hover craft (purchased from the sale of my 20-year-old Honda) and won’t bombard me, at least for a while, with messages that my memory is nearly gone. At least my computer memory.


7 thoughts on “Technology Is a Foreign Language

    1. Haha! Flicker flicker. iCloud is not storage. But there is a Cloud that is storage, probably costs more that 99 cents a month. At least that’s how my 66-year-old brain understood it, both at the Seattle store and the Tacoma store two days later.


  1. In lamenting the changes on WordPress, I can’t help but think “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. Oy. At least you’ll have some adorable tech support in your future.


  2. I feel your befuddlement in things technical. My best memory of how far I’ve come was when my daughter, years ago, while observing me handle my new iPhone with dexterity and confidence, said, “Mom! You’re doing so well with your phone!”


    1. Haha! The little s***. And then you got another one and everything was different. The millennials took the boomers’ brilliant inventions and made it impossible for anyone older than they are to keep up.


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