I was helping my aunt edit a writeup today. She is the most computer-savvy out of my father and his siblings. Although all of them are university graduates, they are also between the ages of 65 and 85 and not very dependent on computers.
My aunt and I did something very simple. Something that most of us, the younger generations do on a daily basis. We logged into my aunt’s Gmail account. We downloaded a file from there to my father’s laptop. We edited the file in Microsoft Word, and then we emailed it back using Gmail to my aunt’s colleague.
Sounds simple, right? During the one hour that I helped her, I learned more than I have ever before in the last decade how wide the generation gap is in terms of technology between Generation X and the previous generations.
For instance, my aunt could not understand why, if I was able to see her email from my father’s laptop, I could not access the Word document that she had saved on her desktop at home. I tried to explain to her that her email was on the internet, whereas her desktop files were not. She finally gave up and said she has no idea how all of this works.
Thank God, I did not attempt to tell her that with a virtual desktop installed on her computer I could access those files, but since her computer would be powered off, even then I could not.
I still remember a few years back, when my laptop got stolen and I was freaking out since 6 years of my work was on it. My backup service at my Alma Mater had just expired a couple of weeks ago and I had still not got around to backing up all my files onto DVDs. In the end I did lose most of that data, except the printout of my thesis. In any case, my eldest aunt, 50 years my senior, with an M.Sc in Psychology, could not understand why I did all my work on a computer and not using a pen and paper, or at least a typewriter. I could feel her blaming my stupid dependence on computers for all my problems, every time she told the story of my stolen laptop to friends and family.
How about you? How often have you been reminded of the technology generation-gap between you and your parents and grandparents?