The Digital Dilemma of the Retiree Group

by Tom Damron
(Plano, Texas)

Plano, Texas - 1993 vs. 2013

Plano, Texas - 1993 vs. 2013

I was told that I needed a smart-phone so when I was given an iPhone, all I could think about was the 44-year business where I managed some 150 clients and nearly one hundred million dollars of their assets. The remarkable thing is that I was able to do it all without a smart-cell phone that played music, recorded videos, took pictures and communicated with strange names such as Face Book, Twitter, and an acrobat aptly named Tumblr.

After they gave me the phone, I was pressured to sign up, under stress and duress, for Twitter and Face Book so that my son and family could communicate with me in the modern way. That communication also included Face Time which I thought was what we had when we vacationed together each summer.

In addition they convinced me I could easily handle Twitter as it allowed only 140 characters per message. Once I was signed up, I was told I was ready to tweet. That was their opinion, not mine.

That darn phone was beeping constantly, not from my family, but from requests for friendship from strange people that wanted to tell me about their last trip to the bathroom and what they planned to do to their significant others.

They sent pictures in their panties and gave me details of last night's party. I decided that I was being over-informed and can't live with the thoughts of all that strange communication so I gave my cell phone back to my son and I bought myself the phone that matches me--a dumb phone. It rings; I answer and then hang up. No pictures, no music, no friends just a Black Hand phone.

And then, this. A good friend from out of state came for a visit and wouldn't shut up about how great his new GPS was on his trip. It guided him through the cities; it took him to the theme parks, and even told him where the gas stations and restaurants were located.

He took me to Wal*Mart and picked out a GPS for my trips, assuring me I would never get lost again. I reluctantly handed my American Express card to the clerk and took the box home with me. My spouse and I do travel quite a bit so when we headed for San Diego, she insisted that I hook up the GPS. I worked for an hour trying to get it to stick on the dash, the windshield, and even the rear view mirror, all to no avail. So, I stuck it in a cup holder and declared it ready for the trip.

The one thing I discovered quickly was that the irritating lady giving me directions didn't like shortcuts. Every 5 minutes, she would say, "Recalc-u-lating," with an obvious tone of exasperation over my taking a useful shortcut.

I had a notion to write the GPS Company and tell them that she could have been trained to be a little nicer to her owners. I felt that she could barely stomach me the way she sighed and insisted that I obey her. Any way you look at it, one could tell that we got off on the wrong foot and the relationship soured from that point on.

The world is getting just too complex for me. They even mess with my head in the stores where I do my shopping. When I pay for an item, they ask if I want them to e-mail my receipt. They used to ask if I wanted it in the bag, as that was my preferred place for the receipt. I can only assume that is the e mail ploy is a part of the 'Paperwork Reduction Act' that has increased paperwork exponentially.

When I grocery shop, the clerk haughtily asks, "Paper or plastic?" I wait for the moment when they ask me as I, with a great stone face, answer. "Yes!"

Believe me when I say that it's fun to watch them stare at me with a blank look indicating they don't have a clue as to what to do next. I gave them a proper answer to the question they asked so why did that confuse them? It did because they've never been trained to ask a question properly, that's why.

At the coffee shop last week, I was asked if I stilled tweeted with my new phone. I answered, "Nope, but the wife says that I chirp a lot when she nags me to repair something."

There is a conclusion to this story and it is --- We senior citizens don't need additional gadgets. The TV remote, our Pacemakers, and Insulin pumps plus the house alarm system are we seniors need to deal with in retirement!

Wendy: BRAVO TOM! Pretty funny and SO Darn True! Thanks for sharing!!

I must say I am ADDICTED (in the past few months) to my Ipad. I had it for a YEAR before I used it, now I carry it everywhere. I even used the map feature to find pizza and urgent care when in Vegas! Love it, but yes, it did take time, lots of it, getting used to a new way of life with it.. grin!

Comments for The Digital Dilemma of the Retiree Group

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IT and Me.
by: Susan Whittenham, Portsmouth, England.

I'm another person aged over 60 who's a technophobe; although I'd used a computer and the internet at work since the mid-1990's I only acquired a mobile phone (US = cellphone) for Christmas 2015, as a present from my techno geek daughter up in London.

Previously the mobile phone I had was one given me by my ex-husband but the buttons were so very small I couldn't manage to use the phone properly so in the end I threw it out with the rubbish.

The phone my daughter bought me is one designed specifically for the elderly (I'm 61) and it's an old-fashioned flip-top phone with LARGE buttons that are easy to see and use.

I still don't know how to receive or send a text message and I don't particularly want to know how either; as most people seem to want to text rather than phone, e-mail or write a letter I simply say I haven't got a mobile phone and to ring on my landline but to please leave a message on the answerphone.

Daughter swears my her tablet, smartphone and other electronic devices and I can see that they're useful to someone who has need of them every day in the course of her work - but I'm retired and don't honestly NEED all these fancy gizmo's.

Yet people I meet still seem to think I'm odd because I tell them I don't have a mobile phone, have chosen not to own a TV set and haven't the faintest idea how to receive or send a text message!

No gadgets for me!
by: Anonymous

I hear you about all the modern gadgets. I had a cell phone (had to for work), but got rid of it. I have a very basic computer that I use for e-mailing my friends. Can barely turn the TV set on---too many remotes and have no interest in learning anything about all the new gadgets!

Like my mother in law used to say "I'm analog!"

Digital Gizmos
by: Donna

Not liking or being experienced with digital gizmos is one reason older people don't get hired for jobs. It's a stereotype that is often true, I guess. Not for me! I embrace it.

Having worked in an office for 30 years that involves mounds of paperwork, I saw firsthand how economical the electronic age was. It saved tons of office space, and hours and hours of searching through papers to find things.

Now, after the docs are catalogued in electronic programs, we merely do a search for something, and bam...there is the doc, which we just print out. From days of searching to 10 minutes.

I didn't like cell phones at first, particularly the cost. But then I discovered Net10 and Tracfone, so the cost was reasonable. I don't like people calling me any time, so I turn on my phone when I'm expecting a call, and that's it. Otherwise I use it for emergencies.

I have several computers at home. They have been priceless in my research for home projects and products, finding the best prices, learning information on how to do this or that, and education on what some things are. How to install drywall videos, how to lay a tile floor, what kind of countertop is best and at what cost, etc.

I do not have a tablet or smartphone. I don't need a smartphone (but Tracfone now has a smartphone, in case I want one). I have laptops at home to use, so no need for a tablet. And I apparently can't use a tablet away from home, unless I buy some uber expensive data plan or go to a hotspot place like Starbucks.

I don't like FB or Twitter, etc., but I have accounts and am familiar with them. Need to stay up on progress. I dropped cable and got a digital antenna, so I get free HD tv, about 20 good channels, better quality picture than the compressed cable.

I have multiple email accounts for different purposes, using various email programs. I have high speed internet, a Roku, and subscribe to Netflix & Amazon Instantwatch for streaming.

I think if a person is discriminatory, buying only what they need or will use, and watching cost, the digital age can improve the quality of entertainment and communications, and save money in the long run.

I'm also about to switch to using an Ooma, using VOIP for phone, and cancelling my $60/month landline. Another monkey off my back.

Digital Dilemma
by: julian schrock

Hilarious stuff. I once heard that when GPS was first introduced in Europe, they had a hard time selling it in Germany. Checking around they found that German men did not like to take orders from a woman.

I also recently ran across this quote:

"I have always wished my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my phone." --- Bjarne Stroustrup

Too funny!
by: Carmen

Yes, all these gadgets are supposed to be time savers but by the time you learn how to use them, they are already obsolete.

When I took out my cell phone at a university hockey game, I knew I was really dating myself by having a flip phone instead of a smart phone.

re: digital dilemma
by: Peggy

Loved and agree with comments. Had to laugh at myself as I, too, have a phone for talking and the occasional text, no bells and whistles, however I still seem to have 2 adult kids still on my account.

My part of the bill is $40 or $50 however the total is well over $200 monthly. Time for a family chat I'm thinking!

Digital Dilema
by: Carol

I too am with you Tom. Life is so damn complicated with all this technology and yet we are going backwards in so many ways.

And of course nobody talks on the phone anymore, it's texting, no e-mail because everybody is texting now, so what's next? With all this texting people have forgotten how to spell since they abbreviate everything. Oh my goodness, what is this world coming to.

I must admit I do text as that is the only way I can keep in touch with the younger generation meaning children and grand-children. I had to come into the 21st century just to survive.

I do have a smart phone and I admit I love all the things it does but I do want to use what brain I have left and not depend on a phone or GPS and all the other gadgets out there.

Digital Dilemma Doldrums
by: Beverly

I am with you, Tom, regarding the "need" for all this technology in our lives. I often wonder how we made it during the years we worked without computers, cell phones, Ipads, Iphones, SmartPhones, GPS devices, etc. Actually, we made it just fine!

My husband is right in the same place you are... He has a cell phone that is used as a telephone - it rings and he answers; he calls someone and they answer. No texting, no Face Time, no tweeting, no frills...Just a reliable cell phone.

It was even traumatic to give up our land line a few years back, but we were receiving too many calls from charitable organizations and/or political individuals and groups on it. That made it easier to turn it off completely!

I do have a cell phone that has some of the fancy technical features on it - like unlimited texting, a GPS that we have used a couple of times, Facebook and Twitter (which we are not paying to use)!

That's one of the issues we have...Paying to use these "necessary apps??" The other issue is that we don't know how to use much of this technology and the people at the cell phone stores act as though we are inferior when we can't understand the applications that we are trying to use, so we just gave up!

Finally, we do use Facebook at home, but it took me awhile to understand the very basics of that application. We mostly use it to keep track of my adult kids and grandkids, as well as our small list of "friends."

And as the paperless issue, we are seeing more and more of this in our world too. Paying bills online, and receipts that could be sent through email.

Personally, these things are like a good book...I want to hold it in my hands and turn the pages; highlight special parts; put notes in the margins; and leave behind evidence that I have read this book and will probably read it again someday. I want to see the spine of the cover on my bookshelf with the title and author's name staring at me beside other "friends" that I still treasure.

To conclude, please know you are NOT alone in this technical dilemma, as there are many of us Baby Boomers who could care less about its usefulness in our lives.

We may be "behind the times" but at least we aren't constantly bombarded with noises all the time. At least we can sit down with another human being and have a face-to-face conversation on the front porch swing. At least we can "get lost" on a back road, and probably see something interesting that we never noticed before. And we can count our many blessings on a daily basis without the use of some "necessary app" that we really don't know how to use!

Thanks for the great story about your personal technological foibles...I feel validated knowing that we all seem to have moments of angst where technology is concerned. Let's look at these situations as learning ones, and move forward with our "Un-SmartPhones" and "Faceless Time" to being communicative in real ways with those we love and care about!

The Digital Age
by: Liz in Georgia

I am becoming more convinced all the time that all these new gadgets, I-Pads, I-Phones, Smart Phones, digital this and digital that, are more toys for most of these people than anything that was ever designed for just practical living.

I am about the only person in the land of the living where I am that doesn't have anything but a little Trac-Phone that I carry in case of some emergency like, "Help, I ran out of gas," or "The tire is flat."

Who needs all this stuff to keep up with life in the fast lane.

by: Chuck

I've worked with computers since 1969 but I agree with you on all the techy toys that are out there. I used to have two cell phones, one on each hip.

Now I too have a TracFone and I forget it most times or the battery is dead. Call me at home, leave a message, I screen all calls.

My 40 year old daughter is an i-groupie with her iphones, ipads, and ipods. I'm a PC. She's very left wing, I'm not. I'm old, she's not. Everything is Bluetooth Blu-ray. When I soak my dentures they are in a blue solution. I wonder if that's what they mean. haha

Great Article Tom

by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Hi Nettie
Last Aug.2012, my 14 yr old grandson gave me his old lap top cause he got a newer version. My son came over to instruct me on how to TURN it on (haha) daaa.

Anyhow, l said l guess l will have to sign up to get whatever l need to be able to use it! Do l just plug it in or what, l asked my son. Ya he replied. Well lets plug it in & see what happens!

l couldn't believe it, l had What they call wifi~~~my son was very surprised as well! l never did have to call anyone to hook me up. That was last year, the computer is somehow giving me all that l require and doesn't cost me a penny~~ How fortunate am l.

l DO NOT do banking on my lap top but l can do just about everything else~~ Sometimes life is wonderful!

by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Hello Tom~

l'm with u, just a cell phone where one says hi ~~ bye & hangs up. All this other stuff is, for the BIRDS ~ ha ha ( tweet twitter ) u got it*

l am a firm believer that people will (soon)in the near future, not be able to think for themselves because all they will no how to do is make sure they push the right BUTTON*

Already if these fast food places have a hydro shut down for whatever reason, everyone PANICS, the young people working there have this blank look on their faces~daaa~ now what do we do?

First reaction, don't let other customers in & lock the door. Why, cause these young people don't know how to make change? eg. When the bill is, say $4.18 & l give them $5.20 ~ all hell breaks loose ~ they can't figure it out? That is pretty sad, these kids r like, 14 - 15 yrs old. The next generation!

Many young people in todays world r so focused on texting-sexting- they don't see much beyond their left or right hand, whichever 1 is holding the latest DEVICE*

Myself if given the choice to go ahead in the world or go back a few generations, l pick the latter, much more fun back in the day, when we had actual normal human friends not this ( to many to count ) Facebook TWITTER Tweet stuff**

I know l would like the phone U picked out & can count on!

Right On!
by: Goldie

Couldn't agree more. TMI...(too much information)..and most of it isn't worth mentioning. I don't need it! Great story!

by: Arthur Charles Ford,Sr.,poet/editor





arthur c. ford,sr.,poet/editor

by: nettie

I loved this article, funny and true. And I appreciated your comment at the end.

I bought an iPAD maybe two years ago.... and rarely ever use it, but you encouraged me to try learn how to use it.... any hints of ways to learn? Are you paying for internet use on yours or do you just go to where there is free wii fIi?

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