Monday, January 20, 2020

How Did Life Get So Complicated?

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published January 22, 2020] ©2020

Welcome to Auntie Inga’s Curmudgeon Hour

Grab your preferred beverage and sit down while I whine again about why life has just gotten too perplexing for me. 

Recently, for example, I wanted to attend a fundraiser only to discover when I went to buy a ticket on-line that the only type of payment accepted was PayPal.  I emailed the agency in charge of the fundraiser whose solution was that they would help me set up a PayPal account. This was not what I had in mind.

I emailed back: “Your offer is very kind but I've lasted 72 years without a PayPal account and am not planning on ruining my status as Techno-Moronic Senile Luddite of the Year.  One last option: can one pay at the door in, say, cash?  It's the green stuff made of paper that comes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 units that boasts portraits of past presidents and is still considered legal tender, however obsolete.  Anyway, thought it was worth asking.”

Ultimately we worked out a payment solution but I couldn’t help but reflect that stuff that didn’t used to be so hard is sucking up way too much time and increasingly limited mental capacity.

For example, parking your car didn’t used to be rocket science.  You either got X minutes for free or had to stuff coins in a meter, or pay some nice person in a little booth.  You did not need to download an app, assuming of course, you even knew how to download an app, not that you  actually kept any financial information on your stupid phone anyway. You just wanted to run in and get some Damp-Rid at Manley’s!

Reading the Sunday New York Times travel section, I have learned that besides using your phone as a boarding pass, one can now track one’s bags with it, and subscribe to services that will upgrade your airplane seat if a better one becomes available.  I fear I’m destined to have the worst seat on any plane, and be the last one out of the continent after the blizzard.  And definitely the only one who truly has no idea where her bags are. 

It just seems like there are techno road blocks being thrown in my way every single day. It would never occur to me to clap my hands to turn on a room light or wave my hands under a faucet to turn it on, unless I was in a movie theater restroom and they had very specific signs.  I don’t even want to get into the ever-increasingly list of friends I will never visit again because I can’t work their high-tech Japanese toilets.  And if I have to clap to turn on their bathroom light to even GET to the high-tech toilet, I’d fantasize about wetting their pricey sofa.

Recently, I needed to give information stored on my iPhone to a customer service agent. In Inga Land, my usual protocol is to call on the land line so I can access information on the cell phone if I have to.  But in this case, I was talking on the cell away from home. I’d been on hold for 45 minutes to get to get this lady in the first place so I didn’t want to disconnect the call.  Fortunately, a 20-something person overheard this and showed me how to do it. Yes, you can get info from your Contacts list without disconnecting your call!  But could I ever replicate it?  Not a chance.

I’m terrified of my TV remote.  One accidental push of a wrong button and the TV is unworkable.  Where’s the “revert to previous settings” button?  In fact, EVERY appliance or gadget should have one!  The “Save me!” button.  (Are you listening, 18-year-old techno-nerd designers?)

The thing is, I’m just not interested in learning most of this stuff.  It takes up too much bandwidth in an already failing brain.  I’ve slowly mastered my cell phone, or at least the parts of it that I really use (texting, photos, or calling an Uber).  If I want to chat with someone, I call them up.  OK, OK, I probably should at least master that thing on my phone that lets me access my Contacts list while talking to someone on the phone.  But it’s my final offer.

Some of us Boomers have really mastered, nay, embraced all the new technology.  But there are plenty of us who have been left in the dust.  Who likes to feel incompetent, like you can’t work a basic appliance or a TV or listen to a voice mail or figure out how to pay for your parking space?  All stuff that you never gave a thought to for the first 60 years of your life.  Have I outlived my time? Probably.

But I’m drawing the line at the toilet seats.

I don't know how to do this.  And I don't want to learn.

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