Blood, Sweat and Technology.

By: Lorraine Iverson

Old dog, new tricks. Boy, do I hate that phrase. First of all, I’m not old. Second, I’m certainly no dog. Sadly, I am having a bit of a time updating my technological understanding and have found myself using that disgusting phrase on a number of occasions lately. Over the last six months I have purchased a new iPad, iPhone and MacBook Air. I’ve been using Apple products since they were in funny little grey boxes.  But every new piece of equipment now sends me into fits. There are so many more layers to these things.  And if you make a tiny mistake, slide the wrong tab the wrong way you are so screwed! Because these devices are all linked with every bit of information that runs your life, if you do push (or don’t push) some tab, you can be lost for weeks.  And/or just lose your mind and toss the entire lot in the recycle bin.

So I signed up for classes and I felt pretty darn smug when I completed the classes. I just knew I had crossed that magic threshold into understanding my devices. But as soon as I would got home some other technological demon would rear its ugly head.  I really hate to be that lady that spends hours a week at the Apple store pestering those brilliant young people with multiple piercings and purple hair, but I see no other way to figure this stuff out. 

What seems to be the problem?

I’m really sick of hearing that phrase too, especially from the benevolent nerds that draw the short straw and have “old lady duty” at the store.  But there always seems to be a problem. And, I suspect it is me. Do you suppose this is because I used to be one of those marketing bimbos that just used my computer in a very superficial word processing sort of way? You know the ones that the tech support guys always rolled their eyes about. Then they’d just push one key, magically fixing my emergency and wander off muttering to themselves. Yup, that was me. Now I’m disgusted with myself that I didn’t treat those nerds better and perhaps learn something. Or at least be able to call them now and beg for help again.

I’m nerds age do they continue to learn technology and know all those little details about working in multiple windows in several different code languages? Or do they lose their patience like the rest of us mere mortals and just play games and surf the internet? Because I’m feeling really stupid for not being able to figure out how to sync my devices or find a file I was just working on.  

Is it age or is it DNA?

I didn’t have to delve very deeply into technology because I didn’t need it. Was I just kidding myself? Now I’m wondering if I have lost too many brain cells or I’m just too cranky to want to put in the time it takes. Technology is supposed to be so much more user-friendly than back in the day when I was doing marketing for UNIX developers. All I had to do was write press releases and throw together an occasional power point presentation. I have no idea how I did that since I knew nothing. I never suspected, (who did?) that some day our entire lives would be ruled by technology. Now it’s kicking my butt and I’m not sure I have the capacity to learn everything I need to know to master the machines that run my world.

I even tried bribing a particularly cute techie at the Apple store to let me adopt him. I promised to cook him dinner once a week if he would just take my occasional (daily) call for tech support.  He refused. In fact, a couple of them did. I guess they know about ladies like me. Apparently they already have technically-diminished mothers and don’t want any more. I so want to be proficient and I’m so frustrated. What’s a mother to do?

Johns Hopkins University published an article by David L.Crawford about the role of aging in adult learning. The article picked me up, then slammed me on the floor and then picked me up again. According to Mr. Crawford and the studies he quoted, mental abilities continue to increase until about age forty, then stabilize until around sixty. Then things start to head downhill. Oh dear.  But on the bright side, he talks about the difference between fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is where younger, quick thinking folks operate. But we, more mature learners, excel with better developed verbal abilities, a wealth of experience and judgement. That’s crystallized intelligence.So I feel better about myself now. That is until I begin to visualize these crystals in my brain cracking and falling off to clog my arteries. Expletive deleted here.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that we may not be as quick as we used to be but our earned wisdom gives us some “creds."  If we take care of ourselves, exercise, don't drink too much and keep our brains stimulated, we can learn new tricks. I’m going to stop beating myself up and not be embarrassed to go back to the Apple store and ask more questions. 

After all, I paid good money to sit at the Genius Bar. They should work with me until I at least get close to that genius level or, at best, learn how to share photos and sync my darn music.

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Rain Iverson has traveled many paths and is always recreating herself. As a business woman, she co-founded and managed a technology public relations firm and one of the first computer conferencing software companies. She has served on non-profit boards, retired at 50 to become an artist and then 10 years later came out of retirement to become CFO of her son's company. Rain is the matriarch of a large, blended family with a great husband, children, grandchildren and lots of extended/blended family members.