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Computer Illiterate

May
23
2007

It’s no secret that I’m not exactly the most techno-savvy person on the planet. I was pretty good with all this stuff up until the time I became a mom. With each pregnancy I think a little of the computer-literate portion of my brain dribbled out of my ear.
Or maybe it’s a matter of having to pick and choose to what you give your attention. Hmmm. . . big, thick tech book or toddler flinging cat onto cook top? By the time the Heirs set the cat free, it was 1998 and I was left behind in the dust.
Not to worry, though. I have two teenage sons who are more than willing to condescendingly help me out whenever I have no choice but to add some new gizmo to a gizmo I already don’t know how to use.
I first realized this could be a problem when cell phones came into common use. I prayed this wouldn’t happen, since answering a telephone is right up there with an IRS audit in my list of Activities to Avoid. I held off getting one until Dirtman and I went into business for ourselves, at which point I was forced to be available at all times so he could call me up to answer that burning question: “Where you at?”
I started out with a pretty basic model that I held on to until you could no longer read the numbers. My new phone supposedly takes pictures and videos and has some other random activities I have no need for. But the only skill I’ve learned since getting it is text messaging. I figured it out while waiting for Heir 2 to finish his cheeseburger at McDonalds. He was across the table and his phone rang with my message: “Hi.”
“That was the first time you’ve ever done that, isn’t it?” he guessed, probably because I was giggling like an idiot at my Big Accomplishment.
“I figured that out by myself!” I proclaimed.
“Great, Mom,” he sneered. “Now you’re only one decade behind everyone else.”
A few minutes later my phone rang and the screen alerted me to an incoming text message. I stared at it.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Heir 2 said, his own cell phone in hand.
Still staring I had to admit, “I don’t know how to get an incoming message.”
He grabbed my phone out of my hand, pushed some buttons then held up the screen: “Heir 2 says: ‘UR lame, Mom’.”
I am equally inept when it comes to downloading and using attachments on my computer, so I’m usually dependent on one or both of my sons arranging icons to give me easier access. Usually this means they stand over me and have the kind of discussion I didn’t think I’d hear until I was carted off to the old age home with only a fifth of my brain functioning – say, at age 112.
“Put the Microsoft Word icon on the Start menu. That way she won’t miss it.”
“No! You know if she doesn’t see it on the desktop, she’ll think the whole program has disappeared.”
“All she has to do is click ‘Start.’ Any moron can see. . .”
“Ya know, I’m sitting right here,” I remind them.
I console myself with the fact that, as clueless as I am, I don’t come close to Dirtman in being a techno-dud. Dirtman has yet to figure out how to work the television satellite while it’s hooked up to the DVR. I thought he’d developed a sudden fascination with Redd Foxx, until I realized that, when frustrated with all the remotes, he starts pushing random buttons until something happens and he can’t watch anything, at which point he gives up and goes to bed. While doing this, he inadvertently programmed the DVR to record every episode of Sanford and Son.
Recently Heir 2 talked me into buying myself an iPod. That way, he said, I could listen to my music “without making the rest of us suffer.” Obviously this device was packaged for teenage boys because there wasn’t a single instruction in the box, on the box or on the device itself, which is how all iPods come, Heir 2 explained. Just a blank screen and a circle with some lines and arrows.
“It’s obvious what you need to do,” he laughed. “Just look at it. Any moron can see. . .”
He stopped, thought a bit, then took the iPod from me.
“Never mind. I’ll do it for you.”

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