I walked into my 90 year old mom’s house years ago and heard her crying. I dropped my purse and the bag of glazed donuts I’d brought her and rushed into the den fearing I’d find her on the floor with a broken hip. But no. She was sitting in front of her computer screen, perched on a phone book so she could reach the keys, sobbing.
Relieved to find her intact, I asked, “What happened, Mom?” I tried to read the screen in front of her, thinking maybe someone had sent her an email about a death in the family. Email was all she knew how to use on the computer my brother had set up for her. (And he was no computer genius, himself, so maybe email was all there was on her computer anyway.) She would write an email message, print it out, and mail it, by U.S Mail, to the recipient. And she was amazed when a message from someone she knew showed up in her inbox! I tried to explain that she didn’t need to mail the letter, but to no avail. After all, how would they get it? It would just stay in the machine!
“Who is this Norton?” she wailed. “Why doesn’t he leave me alone!”
“Norton?” I had no idea who Norton was. I had no cousins named Norton. And I was no computer genius either.
“Look,” she ordered, pointing to a window that blocked her message. “He won’t let me read the letter from Len” Len was her favorite nephew. “He keeps telling me I have to pay him or I’ll get a virus.” She cried some more. “I don’t like this computer. Take it away. I don’t want to get sick. And I don’t like Norton. I couldn’t sleep last night because of him.”
I pried her away from the desk, promising her that Len’s letter would wait for her, and that we would figure out how to get rid of Norton once and for all (though I had no clue how I would do that.) And we went to the kitchen where she was immediately distracted by her need to feed me. When I produced the donuts I’d brought for her, she forgot all about Norton, Len, and the computer and we sat down to a pleasant cup of tea and donuts.
I must have called my tech specialist–I had one because I had to use a computer for my work and barely knew more than my mom about what to do when things didn’t work the way I expected them to–and we deep-sixed Norton. She went back to reading and writing– and mailing– emails. She would be devastated to imagine the US Postal Service going out of business.
Now it’s my turn. I’ve got the email thing down pretty well by now. And the texting. But when social media became a necessity to maintain a presence in the business world, I quit. I refused to learn how to tweet my way into the hearts of clients. And when that orange guy decided he could run the country by tweeting…well, a twit just doesn’t have the gravitas to run a country. At least I have the sense to know that I don’t have the wherewithal to keep up with technology. Or Norton. I get it, mom.