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The Greatest Generation. The Silent Generation. A rapidly increasing number of Baby Boomers. Whenever I get a notification, text, or friend request from a member of these groups, I get excited, but also confused. What absurd usage of social media or technology am I going to see this time? Why are so many senior citizens trying to get in touch with me? Did I sign up for this? I don’t even know this person. I appreciate and support old-timers using technology, and am consistently entertained at the differences I see in the way they use it. Described below are some of the most common scenarios I’ve come across.
Going to have to dedicate this one to my Grandma as she is the queen of ridiculous texts. Here’s a brief look at a text I received after wishing her a happy birthday: “Ty and hd a gd birthday. Lv ya, Gmr and Gmpa.” So much to discuss here, so let’s dive in.
To start, the abbreviations are just out of control. Out of the 11 words in her response, 7 of them are abbreviated. That’s 63.636 mother fucking percent. Those types of numbers are just about unheard of. Grandma is totes abbrevin way above the average, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Another common occurrence is signing off on texts like they’re emails. I’m not sure where the miscommunication was that made older people think I don’t know that it’s them texting me, but for some reason every single text from Grandma is ended with some variation of “Lv Gmr.” To me, the craziest part of them doing this is that I find myself adding a “Love, Brad” in my response. It baffles me why I do this, as I would never sign off on a text to anyone else, but I just feel the need to reciprocate the signature for Nana.
Finally, the random texts out of the blue never fail to make my day. Just a few days back I received a text from my Grandma completely unprompted, with no warning. The contents of the message? A single thumbs up emoji. After my initial confusion passed, I realized that the thumbs up had actually put me in a better mood than before. That woman is wiser than I will ever know. I responded the only way I knew how, with two thumbs up.
Probably my all-time favorite. Observing older individuals navigating social media is highly entertaining, and a quick Google search reveals tons of humorous instances where they just don’t have a clue. The oversharing on Facebook is bananas. I don’t know if they don’t understand how social media works (doubtful), or are just working on building their brand (probable), but I consistently see moves pulled by the elderly that would be met with shock and awe from my friends if I attempted them. These include, but are not limited to, sharing their own profile picture, posting statement statuses that have no place on social media, commenting “That’s my grandson!” on 80% of my posts, and TYPING IN ALL CAPS FOR NO REASON.
This brings us to my final example of older people using technology – trying to figure out how to video chat. Manifesting itself mostly in the form of Skype calls or FaceTime, there is once again a disconnect in how to properly use this technology. Be it a lack of understanding in the fact that the camera is on the front of the screen, or that the microphone actually can hear you, video chatting with grandparents or other senior citizens can rapidly become a frustrating, yet entertaining affair.
Obviously, this column only scratches the surface of older generations struggling with technology, but give them credit. At least they’re trying to learn something new to couple with their brazen honesty and zero-fucks attitude. Next time you see an older person struggling with technology, lend a hand and teach them how to use it. Not only will you have helped someone out, you’ll also have spent some quality time with a person or loved one who might not be around for much longer. Not to mention you get to enjoy the entertainment of seeing them use the technology in a colossally incorrect way. It’s a win-win..
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