Written by Judith Holder


Grey Pride

In her monthly column on ageing, Judith Holder’s after a tech buddy. Answers on a tweet (which she won’t receive).

Illustration by Harriet Carmichael.

Illustration by Harriet Carmichael.

If there’s one thing that has turned on its head the relationship between young and old, it’s technology. It’s not like I’ve had to write down my mobile number on the back of an old Christmas card or point my phone at the TV instead of the remote, but frankly I am hanging on a thread.

Anyone who knows me realises I managed to get a Canadian Yahoo email address by mistake. No idea how I did it, and no doubt I could not replicate the mistake if I tried. I get Canadian biscuits on a regular basis. Sorry, cookies. I rather like standing out from the crowd, and so have kept it for years. People send me news about networking events and political campaigns in Montreal. Marvellous – an instant delete.

The trouble is I’ve got the kit – the iPad (let’s face it, the Fisher Price of devices for people with technical special needs), the iPhone. I’ve got the desktop and the Macbook Air. For this read that I have spent money.

Now for the bad bit. I can’t really work any of it well. My photos are a good example. I can’t work out how to store or find any of them, so the only way I can navigate around them is by scrolling though the last 10 years every time I attach or send one. Oh yes. Every time.

Twitter is another one. I know I need to. I have a Twitter account, I’ve tweeted mostly when someone cleverer and younger than me has been sitting next to me, but when the endless stream of tweets from every museum or shop I have ever entered sends me their corporate shite, I give up again. I don’t seem to have mastered the mention thing and so keep tweeting to myself instead of others.

“If there’s one thing that older people struggle with, it’s technology. Unfortunately it will be the thing that divides the people who survive it well from those who don’t.”

This is particularly relevant at the moment as I recently bought a new keyboard. It jammed, and when I asked the bloke in Currys why it was broken he paused and said it was usually crumbs. Despite coming home and shaking out the crumbs – actual lumps of food in my case – it still didn’t work. Which was spiteful of it.

I got the new keyboard home, and plugged it in. This was remarkably easy and resulted in self-congratulatory crumbs. I started typing. Oh yesssss. Problem sorted, I thought, and only £20. Then I tried to do an @ sign and it gave me a “.

Nor can I hashtag. I have to write that bit because I still haven’t found the hashtag key or the one it has moved to. Basically after another trip to Currys I realise I have a Mac but the keyboard is a run-of-the-mill PC one and so the two have been designed not to talk to one another. And I’ve now lost the receipt and, more importantly, thrown the packaging away.

Despite two more trips to Currys, the advice is just to change the settings. Oh yes just change the settings. Like where? I’ve tried all the usual places and need to go off piste, for which read another trip to Currys.

If there’s one thing that older people struggle with, it’s technology. Unfortunately it will be the thing that divides the people who survive it well from those who don’t. It’s designed to be intuitive to people who learned in a different way to us. We simply can’t work it out for ourselves in the same way they can. And it’s making us look foolish, when we are seriously not.

Basically I need a technology buddy. Someone about 12, actually make that about eight, who can solve my problems and in return I could teach them how to make a cheese soufflé without a recipe, while also unloading a dishwasher and mowing a lawn.

Read all of Judith’s previous columns here.


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Written by Judith Holder

Producer/writer of the BBC Two series Grumpy Old Women and the spin off books, and co-writer with Jenny Eclair of the three stage shows which have been international hits.