Day 318: Tech Support

My wife and her mother are suspicious and generally intolerant of technology. That wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t also constantly using it. I didn’t realize the extent of what I was dealing with until 3 years ago when my mother-in-law was sitting at our computer and asked,

“Jason, why don’t I see my emails when I go to the mail program on this computer?”

I laughed and panicked. The lack of basic understanding exhibited by that statement was daunting. I felt like a new 3rd grade teacher who’d just discovered his students couldn’t read yet. I didn’t even know where to start with an explanation. Is she from the future when all computers easily recognize the person sitting in front of them and download all the pertinent data automatically? It’s like getting in someone else’s car and wondering why your sweater isn’t in it.

“Because you have to sign into your account.” I responded. She said, “Oh,” and left the computer. The mere notion of an “account” toggled her attention to the “off” position.

Both she and my wife are very smart women, but for some reason can’t be bothered with understanding how “high tech gadgets” work. That doesn’t stop them from incessantly asking why their iPhone made a certain sound, or if it’s possible to make video chat “less garbled.” When I try to answer, they immediately glaze over. The shortest amount of time that exists in the universe is between me saying “wireless network” and them walking away. They’re back 5 minutes later holding their phone asking, “How many 3Gs or 4Gs does this have?” “Why are websites so slow?” is their favorite question. They don’t actually want an answer, I think they just can’t stop themselves from asking. It’s like a compulsion of some kind. Maybe my answers are terrible. I guess I have no idea what’s going on.

Last night, my wife asked, “Does my iPhone take energy away from the Netflix?”



“THE Netflix?”

You can always tell someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they incorrectly insert “the” in front of a word. It  makes them sound like English is their second language. “Tomorrow I will be applying for the citizenship of United States.”

I reponded, “Are you asking if the performance of Netflix streaming is affected by your iPhone being on the same wireless network?”

“Yea, that.”

“Only if you’re actually using the wireless network. Just being connected shouldn’t slow it down.”

Silence. I’d talked above her head again. I think the difference between “connected” and “using” was too much for her to think about.

I appreciate her efforts at troubleshooting, but sometimes it feels like a child is trying to tell me how to drive. “You have to use the pedals and shifter!” “Yes, thank-you, I know.” “Ok, just checking.”

After that, I was showing her how Siri (the voice enabled virtual assistant) works on the new iPhone 4s. She was completely blown away by how accurate and fast it worked. I think maybe she was a little too excited when she said, “Ask Siri if she’ll suck your dick!” My wife isn’t crude at all, and I think it might have been the first time I ever heard her say “suck” and “dick” in the same sentence. Then she asked “How does Siri work?” “Well, it contacts the apple servers where a service then queries the ….. babe? Hey, come back.”

For Christmas I’ll get them each a class at the Mac store. I’ll make sure I have a receipt so when they don’t go I can get the money back and buy a bluetooth accessory I don’t remotely need.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

24 comments On Day 318: Tech Support

  • I work as a veterinary technician, and had a client once tell me that he needed medicine because his dog had "the flea."

  • You're a much better sport about it than I am. I, too, know these folks (one is in my immediate family). They infuriate me.

    It's not like they're wondering about how an atom-splitter or a time-machine works. Holy crap, cellphones and personal computers have been widely available in one form or another for at least 20 years. They're way past the "gadget" or "fad" phase. In fact, they are integral to everyone's daily life, just like central air conditioning, dishwashers and microwave ovens.

    My mother called me one day and said she didn't want to pay for voicemail on her home telephone anymore. She said she'd called the phone company and asked them to remove voicemail from her bill, but she was still getting voicemail messages. When I asked her how she was accessing the messages, she replied:

    "Well, when I see the machine blinking I just press 'play' and the voicemail message comes out."

    She was listening to her own ANSWERING MACHINE for Christsakes.

    Far from endearing or cute, I find this willful ignorance just a form of laziness. If there is ANY work or thought involved, she's just not interested. Ugh …

  • Well? Did Siri give up the b.j. or not?

  • Unfortunately I sound a lot like your wife. At least you have the answers!

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