Old(er) People and their fear of Technology

“Hey, I’ve got an error message!”

That dreaded announcement came roaring over from the other end of the floor. A man in his early 40s peeked past the divider that separates the departments in their workplace, his eyes wide open with a clear sense of hopelessness as he surveyed the floor for any of the tech support.

I turned my back against him to my current client, who nods understandingly and sends me off to her colleague. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed and would allow myself to heave an audible sigh, made marginally inconspicuous by staying out of the line of sight.

Now that I have started to stride towards him and is in full view of his scrutiny, I met his gaze with a weak smile – the best I could muster with my remaining strength. It’s 4 hours into work and I’m feeling drained out already.
old people and technoloy

My work isn’t too difficult – it’s just tedious.

We receive assignments the day before, and they take up the bulk of our day. These assignments usually require a dedicated 2 to 3 hours, and possibly another half hour more for troubleshooting. But the real drain comes from situations like these; mundane, simple but numerous ad-hoc requests. My point is I do handle technical stuff out of reach of the common user,

It wasn’t an error.

It was a prompt from Microsoft Outlook’s RSS feed. Other times it could be a WiFi connectivity error, unable to access the Internet, or Outlook not retrieving mail – because the User has accidentally toggled the respective application to Work Offline. Sometimes it could even be an Initials prompt when starting up a program for the first time.

And because my team takes on multiple computers at once, effectively disabling an entire sub-department for a few good hours, our clients tend to use this free time to chat. We’re often in vicinity, so there are some real gems we pick up that continues to bedazzle my minds today.

If I catalogued my daily events, it should be a worthy entry to r/talesfromtechsupport.

A means to an end

They see computers and related technology as a necessary evil. They are involuntary patrons of the technological world, forced to succumb to LED screens by the company’s policies and the ruinous digitising direction of the company.

Some of these people would willingly throw their workstations out of the window if given the chance. They live in fear, afraid of being corrupted in their ideological innocence by the encroachment of technology, as they huddle by their radio sets tuned to hum a suiting tune for the approaching apocalypse.

It never required much technical knowledge either. Most Microsoft programs are designed to be as user-friendly as possible: solutions are available in a few clicks on the troubleshooter that appears automagically, and the technical jargon are kept to a minimum.
older people and technology

The problem is that they don’t read.

Not that they can’t, but they just choose not to.
Anything out of the norm – popups or prompts that temporarily disables the main interface, would edge the user into an emotionally disquieted state. Don’t get me wrong – I believe technology illiteracy is a real thing, but not that big of a deal.

Most of these issues could be solved by a simple click of a button, or Googling the error. But the User chose not to do so. They immediately take their hands off the wheel and request immediate assistance – no effort is being made to access or judge the situation.

For the record, I know that they’re not all like this.
And since my current client base in inside a bank, it’s little wonder that they hardly dabble in technology. As accountants and paralegals, most don’t have the time to explore the digital terrain. But still, it’s no excuse.

Learning and Teaching

Some of them learned better than the rest. It’s no surprise, really. There are those that are highly inquisitive and makes actual attempts to grasp the new technology, then there are the vast majority that shuns the technology at first glance. Everything thereafter is an uneasy settlement. In the latter’s learning journey, it’s apparent that familiarity breeds more contempt.

In the end, there was nothing much to do if the heart was unwillingly. There is no way to teaching if the recipient does not attempt to learn.

Am I proud of my disposition towards technology? It might seem so in this rant – an unlikely entry into this site, but I digress. I don’t know, chances are, in the future we’d end up shunning the future technology as well. Probably not myself, but I’m sure that many of my generation would – much alike those generations that have come to pass.

But until then, I guess I still have much more to learn.


“Hey, could you help me with this?”

Another man comes running after us, meek and apologetic for calling us out as we were leaving for lunch. My mentor, a man in his early 50s, intercepted this one.

My mentor doesn’t smile, instead patting me on my back.
He simply nods, turns, and returns to his duty.


3 thoughts on “Old(er) People and their fear of Technology

    1. Haha, no! Thanks for the recommendation, though. Was checking out snippets of it on Youtube, seems pretty damn awesome 😉

      1. Aha, I only said it because it’s about an IT department, and it sounds like you do something similar to them, so I’m sure you’d appreciate some of the jokes! This, for example..

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