Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Looking for Directions on the Information Highway…



Brianna Popsickle
Letters From A Suburban Prison



I’m at the gym the other day, when a woman pointed to my iPod and asked, “What’s that? Is it for music?”

Are you kidding me? I smiled to myself; someone who knew even less than me about the latest technology.

“This is an iPod Shuffle, ” I replied proudly. “Holds about 250 songs.”
Just then another woman asked, “But how do you get the music onto it? Is it the same as an MP3 player?”

“What’s an MP3 player?” someone else chimed in.

That’s how it began. Suddenly everyone was spouting words like Lime Wire, iTunes, CD’s and dockable units, telling stories of their failed attempts to understand it all. The common theme was one of frustration.

I remember as a child, my mother dancing through each room as she did the housework, listening to the same 45 record, playing over and over again. Women today are so much better off. We can listen to all of our favourite tunes through our earphones, while gardening, biking or working out. Well we could, that is, if we could just figure out how to get the #@$!!!!! music on to the #@$!!!!! little iPod thingy.

I’m big enough to admit this. My son downloaded all my favourite songs to my iPod, which I never leave home without by the way, before he left for university. He showed me a couple of times how to do it, and I thought I had it, but didn’t. Needless to say whenever he’s home for a visit, I ask him to add more songs.

But I‘m not alone. I realized this that day at the gym, when the word iPod created more buzz than who got kicked off The Bachelor the night before. It was like an AA meeting for the technically challenged.

”My name is Susan, and I can’t program my DVD recorder”.

“My name is Maureen and I can’t download music”.

And it wasn’t just about the music. The talk turned to cell phones and text messaging, DVD players and digital cameras. Now who can find fault with digital cameras? You can delete pictures you don’t want, you can crop photos, it’s amazing technology, what’s not to love? But please, someone, for the love of God, show me again how to get the pictures from the camera to the computer and printed out. Show me one more time, how to remove red eye without little brown spots appearing everywhere.

As the discussion continued between moans and groans, the topic turned to emailing and MSN. I have to say I was impressed. These same women who could not play a movie on a DVD player, could not download photos from their digital cameras and didn’t know what an iPod was, sang the praises of MSN. The reason? Their kids are at university. Which proves women can, and will do, anything, if it means talking to their kids. Even if it means, learning the technology.

I happened to mutter the word Facebook to the woman beside me. The room fell silent. She looked at me in awe and said, “You have Facebook?” Everyone listened as I explained I got it because everyone I worked was half my age, and I didn’t want to feel disconnected.

Do I use Facebook? Rarely. Do I enjoy Facebook? Not so much.
Have I made friends? Oh yeah.
I received a message on Facebook from my cousin saying “Hi Brianna. Smile, you’re on a hidden Eyecam right now”. “I sure hope not, I replied. Because I’m sitting at my computer in my bra and jeans, waiting for my top to dry.” Turned out not only did my reply go to her, it followed some sort of ‘thread’ and went to everyone that had received the original message. I started getting messages like, “Where do you live?” and “What colour’s your bra?”

I scan Facebook periodically, whenever I feel the need to know exactly what people are thinking or doing at that moment. One friend’s update said, ‘Eliza is busy bathing the kids’. Another said, ‘Trudy can’t believe how there’s not enough time in the day’, another, ‘Sherry is thinking about the weekend’. I don’t mean to be rude, people, but seriously, WHO CARES? I want to scream that if Trudy didn’t spend so much time on Facebook she might find there’s plenty of time in a day. And who takes time out before bathing their kids to tell everyone, they’re bathing their kids?

So when a colleague asked me the other day what women’s issue I was going to write about next, healthcare, equality in the workplace, or daycare? I replied, “Those are all very important issues that everyone is talking about, but I’m going to write about what’s really pissing women off. I’m going to write about the forty-something women out there who are lost in today’s technology. We’re traveling down the information highway with no one to ask for directions.

In these days of hard economic times and layoffs, I have a suggestion for teenagers everywhere. Start your own consulting business. Now! We forty-something women will be happy to pay you to teach us all you know about iPods and MP3’s, text messaging and Facebook. Your business will flourish, your savings account will grow. Just don’t ask me to pay you on-line.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on, oh, but it's not just the 40's generation, I can tell you it is excellerated for those of us in the 50's generation....

Linda said...

I'll pass your idea onto my son, whom I can't seem to get off the computer playing his games! Then again, if he did make any money, I suppose it would just keep him on the computer with - MORE GAMES!

tom Joseph said...

We have a computer users club in Florida. Mostly older people trying this digital camera, mp3 player stuff.

It is discouraging to say the least how little is learned after 11 years.

It is all great but it needs to be made easier.