Technology And The Folks
My parents are way late when it comes to technology. Not that this is unusual; we have the expected jokes about VCRs with their clocks flashing 1200, which theirs actually did. Even VCRs at this point are hopelessly outdated. Thank goodness, because they were little more reliable than cassette tapes, always losing their tracking or unwinding great long ribbons that could not be stuffed back in their box. My husband and I did the best we could to bring them into the twenty-first century, but they had to be dragged kicking and screaming. As I recall, I bought them their first answering machine. Mom left this really grim, formal message that sounded like they had just stepped out to go to a double funeral. We bought them their first cordless phones. Mom literally still had a rotary dial phone in her craft room that worked.
They were a little suspicious of all this technology, but we really dragged them into the next century when we bought them a computer. They both had some computer experience – Mom rather extensive because she taught Engineering Graphics using AutoCad when she was a professor at Alabama. My dad had a computer in his office and a laptop that the Law School had given him to use and he figured out how to use Word Perfect and that was about it. Mom could check her email. They were interested in a home computer, but they were just hung up on what to get. By the time they did all the necessary investigations, Consumer Reports inspections and such, the computers they were looking at had already gone off the market. We finally took pity on them, and my husband, the data base expert, picked a home computer and we bought it for them for Christmas. He set the whole thing up for them, which was a labor of love. Mom was still a little sceptical of him at that point as he was a recent husband and she expressed concerns that he might be trying to access their financial information. Seriously? So they learned to use the computer, and when that one died recently, we got them another one. By that time, Mom was less suspicious of my husband and she was sufficiently uninhibited enough to call him up when the computer was having problems. Score one for the husband!
We bought them a DVD player to replace their VCR (which they didn’t replace) and a new TV twice to replace their old one, which I swear still used transistor tubes. It might have even been black and white. I think they have enjoyed the heck out of the TV and the DVD player, but they don’t admit it. I also helped Daddy buy Mom a new stereo, with Bose speakers and a turntable for all their vinyl collection, which is extensive. They literally still had an eight track on the old stereo. They actually played Christmas music on it.
The real amusement came in with the cell phones. We couldn’t really buy our folks cell phones, because we didn’t know what kind of contract they would want. So forever they went without cell phones. Smart phones were already coming about when they finally broke down and got a couple cell phones, but they were on a month-to-month contract because Mom was suspicious of the phone companies and did not know what kind of contract to get. Their phones were ridiculous dinosaurs. They could text on them only by punching the number keys, but they did not learn how to text. I don’t even know if their contracts permitted them to receive texts. So they carried their phones with them sometimes but not always, and they turned them on rarely. So they would tell us we could reach them on their cell phones, and then they would go merrily off into the breech with their phones turned squarely OFF. So we got used to being unable to reach them.
Mom finally broke down and got a smart phone from Motorola the other day. I have been trying to show her how to use it, as my husband and I both have state-of-the-art Droid Bionics and I figured she could use some schooling. We set up her email and her WiFi and started working on texting. That was a little trickier. Her phone did not have a text icon on it anywhere that we could find, yet she could receive texts from me. Well, we finally figured it out and now she is PRACTICING. I received some sixteen identical texts from her the first day she figured out how to text. I didn’t hear anything from her for a while and then today, she went texting nuts. She sent me message after message, and at least they weren’t all the same. We actually had a texted conversation, which was very impressive, and I could tell she was quite excited. She still has a month-to-month contract though, and her next move will be to figure out what kind of long-term contract she wants to have. She did not get Daddy a smart phone because, well, I don’t think either of us think that he would want to or be able to handle it. It would just drive him nuts. So he will continue with his dinosaur phone, which doesn’t matter because he still never turns it on.