“How Do I Turn on Facebook?” – My Aunt, 2016

Baby boomers are known for being clueless with technology. Now, some are pretty decent. They know their way around their smartphones surprisingly well, maybe just as well as you and I do. But there’s the other extreme, in which lies baby boomers who are just technologically hopeless.

My aunt is one such boomer.

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GIF from giphy.com

She got an iPhone and an iPad sometime last year, but let’s just say she hasn’t quite mastered them.

Ever since she got her new playthings, every meeting with her, without fail, will at one point see her coming up to me, iPhone in hand and a look of utter perplexion on her face. She would then proceed to ask me all the technology-related questions that have stumped her since our last meeting.

Last weekend’s dimsum lunch was no different. Here are some of the questions she asked:

  1. “I just took this picture on my iPhone. How do I save it?”

    Not quite understanding the concept that photos taken are automatically saved, my aunt was very concerned that the photos she takes just disappear into thin air. It took a lot of coaxing and explanation to dispel this thought.

  2. “Should I delete messages after I read them so that my phone does not run out of space?”

    She’s got a 32GB iPhone with no music, no videos, about 21 pictures and three extra applications that I’ve helped you download – Facebook, Candy Crush and Hay Day, a virtual farming community that is, admittedly, oddly fun. Definitely not in danger of running out of space any time soon.

  3. “How do I turn on the sound on Facebook?”

    I was pretty confused when she asked about this. Sound on Facebook? What? Facebook doesn’t have sound! Only after she clarified that she was referring to videos could I offer my invaluable expertise.

  4. “(Person here) said she added me to her contacts. But how come I can’t see her on my contacts?”

    Aw, cute. She thinks that adding someone to a contact list is like sending a Facebook request. Again, it was a lot of exasperation on my part to explain that it isn’t mutual, and that just because you have someone on your contact list means they have you on theirs.

  5. “How come I have all these pictures of random strangers on MY Facebook?”

    This was a hard one to tackle. First, I had to explain that the default screen on Facebook is not your profile, but a news feed. Then, I had to explain the concept of a news feed. After which I had to explain what tagging is, and how these strangers are not in fact strangers, but my friends who have tagged me in photos, and Facebook shows you other photos in that same album as well.

I love my aunt, but I can’t help but find humor in her misconceptions about technology. Once, when she wanted a picture of flowers as a background for her iPad, I searched ‘orchids’, her favorite flower, on Google. When the images started showing up, she was stunned, her mind unable to wrap around the fact that all these different pictures of orchids  just presented themselves in front of her. In a world where this technology is so prevalent around us that nothing quite seems to impress us anymore, the fact that things like Google Images pose a novelty to my aunt – and to many baby boomers – is refreshing.

Teaching her the ways of the 21st century is equally hilarious as it is stressful, but above all, it offers a perspective of how much this generational difference causes us to have such wildly different expectations of technology, and therefore a gap in skill level that for a moment makes me think that my aunt and I live in two different worlds.

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