Seniors vs. Technology

Modern life often requires computers, and for senior citizens, this can be like a punishment. I’ve actually been using computers for years, but instead of getting easier, it gets more complicated by the day. Here’s my latest exasperation:

I received an email from The Department of Labor in my state that requires me to respond by uploading about 15 pages of data onto the form they sent me. I know how to send a photo to someone. But attaching it to another form is another thing entirely.

Originally I thought this request was a scam, so before sending out my personal financial reports, I made a few calls to verify its authenticity.

I called my accountant, who hasn’t yet called me back, my state representative’s office, a friend who said she would ask her boyfriend because he knows everything, my children, who also know everything, and The Department of Labor. Mostly everyone thought it was a scam except for The Department of Labor. It took about 3 hours to make all these calls. It took them 36 hours to call me back.

The Supervisor at the labor department said it was not a scam and, I should definitely comply with the request. Therefore, I removed the copy I made from the garbage pail and started working on it.

The first thing I did was to take an iPhone picture of each page I needed to attach. Then I had to review the pages to ensure they were legible and didn’t cut off the page edges.

This was the first problem.

I got mixed up matching the photographs to the actual pages. Inadvertently, I had taken duplicate photos of some pages and not photographed others. And, my iPhone seemed to have re-arranged their order (undoubtedly my fault.)

Another problem is that I have shaky hands, so I have to hold the phone against my midriff for stability. The pictures came out with the image looking wider at the bottom than at the top. They were weird-looking.

So far, I had spent another 1:15 minutes resulting in zero progress.

I could have spent this amount of time doing something more fun — like eating, napping, or reading!

Then I decided to try to upload just one page as a trial. So, I moved one picture to my desktop. So far, so good. Then I opened the page of the document where it was supposed to upload. With great anticipation of success, I grabbed the picture from my desktop with my mouse and slid it over.

The result? The photo slid itself right back to where it started.

GRRRRR!

I didn’t know what I was doing. So, I went to Google and asked for help. Once I figured out the best wording for the “How to” sentence, I got a basket full of answers, mostly unintelligible to me. My frustration rose along with my blood pressure.

At this point, I had spent another 2 1/2 hours dealing with this and was no closer to a solution than when I started.

Total hours so far: about 6 hours, plus the 36 hours waiting for the Department of Labor to call me back. This waiting time was not tranquil; anxiety and frustration filled every minute.

The gambit was up. I had to request support from one of my children. In this instance, my daughter.

She was charming in her response and offered to do the whole job for me. You can guess I said OK in a nanosecond.

Throughout my life, I have handled my affairs successfully on my own. My mother taught me that I had to rely on myself because no one else would save me. So I learned to be self-reliant and also learned to cling to this quality. That’s why I am pained by the need to seek assistance. It nullifies my hard-won self-confidence.

My generation's folks had no exposure to today’s rampant technology, and we are now awash in incredible automation. In the 1940s, schools were dealing with such things as the quality of our penmanship. In graduate school, my granddaughter, in the third grade, was learning about Venn diagrams at the same time as I was. I thought it was funny, but that’s a sample of how much education has advanced.

Most of the time, I enjoy using my computer. But, every other day, something comes up that has me stumped.

What’s a girl to do?

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Lynn Zimmering

Lynn Zimmering

Well, I’ve done it — I’m ninety! I can hardly believe it myself and still writing. Here’s the deal; I’ll keep writing if you keep reading. Thanks.