It’s official: I’m suffering from Techno-Depression. Last week I went to get my hair done and when the customer before me handed her credit card to the stylist, Angie inserted this tiny white gismo into the top of her phone, swiped the card, and had the customer sign by writing her name with her finger on the screen. I’ve been left in the digital dust.
I’m still trying to figure out how to answer my cell phone. My younger son does a truly vicious imitation of me using a cell phone. Because I use mine so rarely, I never remember what you’re supposed to do when it rings. Hence I tend to randomly push buttons and yell “HELLO? HELLO?” at it. Henri swears that when he calls me on my phone, he automatically holds his own phone at least a foot from his ear.
But just for the record, how intuitive is it to push END when you want to START? Huh? Huh? How hard would it be to label that button On/Off? (This could be my next career: designing electronics for the technically challenged.)
Hairstylist Angie has been my cell phone tech support for quite a while now. It used to be that I had to drive the phone over to Radio Shack in downtown La Jolla and have the kid behind the counter erase text messages for me. He’d always say, “Don’t you want to read them first?” I’d reply, “Nope. It’s always some guy name Luis who thinks I want to hook up.”
I am perfectly fine not texting although when I got the phone, T-Mobile proceeded to send me my password via text message. I proceeded to bury them in execrative invective by email, pointing out that just because one has a phone doesn’t mean one knows how to text. They need to understand that some of their customers are seriously techno-impaired.
Angie insists that cell phones, even Smart Phones, are not as complicated as they look. Even her mom has one, she says, and she’s almost 60.
“I’m surprised she can still tie her shoes,” I said drily.
“They have classes, you know,” Angie persisted. “No,” I said, “unless you can get the app where some 15-year-old follows you around and works the phone for you, it’s too hard for me.”
I first began to get the feeling I was being left behind in the digital Pleistocene when one of my kids moved a few years back. “Let me know when you get your new number,” I said.
“Mom,” he answered, “nobody but you has a land line anymore. In fact, are they still legal?”
Now my worst nightmare has become a reality: all the electronics I already have trouble operating have been consolidated into one I can’t operate at all: a Smart Phone. My-two-year old granddaughter watches downloaded TV shows and videos on her iPhone (her parents’ old one). All the photos I get now have been taken by someone’s cell phone instead of their digital one. I’m still trying to work myself into the iPod generation but Angie says she downloaded (uploaded?) all her music on to the phone, too. Ipods are so last decade, she says.
Reading the Sunday
New York Timestravel section, I have learned that besides using your phone as a boarding pass, one can now track one’s bags with one’s phone, and subscribe to services that will upgrade your airplane seat as soon as a better one becomes available. I fear I’m destined to have the worst seat on any plane, and be the last one out of the continent after the blizzard. And definitely the only one who truly has no idea where her bags are.
Those commercials on TV where the kid tells his fawning phone servant to call him Rock God or find places that deliver tomato soup really drive home in the most depressing way possible that I’ve outlived my technical skills. Ironically, in college, I was pretty much my dorm’s tech support. Such was my renown with Smith-Corona electric typewriters that everybody came to me for help changing the ribbons.
My younger son thinks the cure for Techno Depression is techno skill acquisition. Could I at least try to embrace cell phones? If you can breeze through the New York Times crossword puzzle 365 days a year, he says, (well, 313 days really; the Monday puzzle is too easy to be worth doing), surely you can learn to operate a cell phone?
“Of course,” added Henri, “you will have to turn it on.”
“But,” I said, “I don’t want anyone to actually reach me.”
I guess I could just ignore it when it rings and just use its other features. Because I really do want to know where my bags are.
* Look for La Jolla resident Inga’s lighthearted looks at life every other week in The La Jolla Light. Reach her at