Author Topic: Parents who are Computer Illiterate  (Read 11484 times)

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Pen^2

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #75 on: March 12, 2013, 07:09:12 AM »
This. Honestly, I would have stopped answering her calls by now. She sounds utterly obnoxious, and I'm at a loss as to what maintaining the relationship adds to your/DH's life.

Wait...what? Are you implying the OP and her DH should give his mother the cut direct because she's a bit annoying/obtuse about computers?

 :o
Okay, I was a bit flummoxed by what I was reading too -- couldn't believe anyone would suggest cutting their mother out of their life due to one annoying habit. We all annoy our loved ones from time to time. None of us is innoculated against irritating others. If we cut everyone who annoyed us out of our lives, well, we wouldn't have much of a life any more.

According to the OP, she doesn't like visits, doesn't like phone calls, and Mmms instead of cooperating when OP is trying to help w/ the computer. So yeah, I just don't get the point of these interactions.

Hookay, so this is going weird places...

DH has had a very turbulent childhood. He didn't get to see his mother between infancy and the age of 14. He never really knew his mother as a proper child, and as a result has always had something close to an adult-adult relationship going on with her. It is not a mother-son relationship at all, but largely as a result of circumstance (it was absolutely out of her hands at that point for reasons I will not go into). To be suddenly presented with a teenager and be told, "this is your son, suddenly be a mother" is pretty huge, and she (like most people would also) never had the chance to learn to be a mother as one normally does: the relationship evolving as the child grows into something more and more complex. Both DH and I agree that it is worth expending effort to have something of a relationship going, because although she hates socialising and it stresses her considerably, small things she has said and done over the years have indicated that she is somewhat happy knowing that her son doesn't just treat her as some complete stranger woman, as happened to one of her university peers with tragic results. She'll never be able to have a real parent-child relationship, especially with her personality, and that's fine, but if we can give her this small comfort then it's worth it.

A number of times, she has done very inconvenient things (for her) just to make a small gain for DH, but always way behind the scenes since she hates having to deal with the person she's trying to help. She once said, "I couldn't give him the right things when he was a boy, so now I do whatever I can twice as much. If only he were younger, though, because I can't give him much when he's already so grown-up." DH's intense self-sufficiency is troubling for her, because on the one hand she doesn't have to spend time with him at all, but on the other she feels like she owes him what he missed out on as a child, and now he doesn't need it.

Further, I no longer have any family to speak of (big and painful cut). And nothing MIL would realistically do would ever compare to what I used to take from my own parents, so cutting her out to me would be completely ridiculous and over the top. She is stubborn as an ox, frustrating, and antisocial, but she isn't nasty, mean, selfish, or aggressive. Just difficult. There's a difference.

And yes, I am writing this partially because, reading back, I feel guilty for painting MIL in a bad light when she isn't a bad person.

Gyburc

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #76 on: March 12, 2013, 08:44:42 AM »
Don't feel guilty, Pen^2! Just because your MIL isn't a bad person, it doesn't mean she can't be immensely frustrating!

I can see exactly why you want to help her, and have tremendous admiration for her given everything that has happened. But it's still OK to get irritated by her when she behaves in an irritating way.

I hope you do get this sorted out so that you don't end up tearing your hair out!  :)
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Lynn2000

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #77 on: March 12, 2013, 12:11:36 PM »
OP, I think your reasons for keeping MIL in your life make more sense now to me (not that they ever had to, of course!), so I hope you can find a way to work around her computer phobia. I had to laugh at the "mouse upside down" bit. I think my own mom did that once. But only once, and she was really embarrassed about it. Because she genuinely wants to learn how to use the computer, whereas MIL's motivation seems a little shaky--when you have to persuade her to go into the computer room, even though she's called you and said, "Tell me how to fix this now!"

I think time limits are definitely a good idea. And making her participate more actively, if you two are going to do this at all--or finding something else to occupy you while you wait for her to follow each of your instructions, so you don't feel like you're wasting your time completely.

Also, my older relatives have really taken to the iPad. The touchscreen aspect seems much more intuitive to them than using a mouse.

With the technophobes I see, a big issue is being afraid to do anything, for fear of destroying everything. I'm very cautious, too, so in a sense I understand where they're coming from. But at some point, if you're going to use the computer at all, you have to make the leap to doing things. Look through all the available commands in a program (without actually clicking on any of them), read the help file, etc.. The thing I dislike most (mentioned before, I'm sure) is when several of my co-workers have to register for a conference using a website we've never seen before--I usually do it first and get through it fine, and other people come running to me with questions about every little dropdown menu and checkbox. They're so afraid of clicking the "next" button with something wrong, like that will bring catastrophe down on them. I am very much low-intermediate in my computer savvy, but I read things carefully several times, look at all the options, check the help boxes, and finally make a decision, knowing that if I realize I've done something wrong, I can always contact a human behind the website/company to help me out. There was another thread about the most important things you could teach your children, and a lot of people mentioned, "the ability to find out something they don't know." That is really important in a lot of areas, technology included.
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Minmom3

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #78 on: March 12, 2013, 12:35:48 PM »
*** *** ***

Learned helplessness is, IMHO, largely the fault of our media.  *** *** ***

Or you have people like my own mother, who practiced and perfected learned helplessness by the time I was small.  She could do ANYTHING she put her mind to doing, if and when it suited her.  She much preferred to have you do it for her, because then she knew you loved her.  I think she may have learned this from her mother and grandmother, because my grandmother did everything she could do for my great grandmother.  The difference was, Gram genuinely DID love Nana, and the love was returned, and Nana had done everything she could for Gram in the early years.  It was mutual 'doing' spread out over years.  Nana never ever demanded and berated when something was not done, which is something my mother excels in.
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Venus193

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #79 on: March 12, 2013, 01:03:18 PM »
Learned helplessness gets on my last nerve.  In most people it's passive/aggressive, manipulative, and nasty.

lowspark

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #80 on: March 12, 2013, 01:09:46 PM »
Learned helplessness gets on my last nerve.  In most people it's passive/aggressive, manipulative, and nasty.

Yes. And feigned helplessness which I've also seen. Someone who simply cannot do xyz... that is, until they realize it's either them or no one. That's why it's best to back off. Somehow some way, she needs to do it without your help. She'll either figure it out or find someone else (preferrably paid) to help her who is right there instead of a thousand miles away.

GreenBird

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #81 on: March 12, 2013, 01:19:20 PM »
If there's an Apple store near her, one nice thing about encouraging her to get an iPad is that she can take it to the Apple store when she's having trouble with it.  I'm sure her first few help calls would still be to you, but if you're very consistent about only telling her "The folks at the Apple store could help you with that" maybe she'd start going directly to them. 

LadyL

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #82 on: March 12, 2013, 01:24:20 PM »
Learned helplessness gets on my last nerve.  In most people it's passive/aggressive, manipulative, and nasty.

Yes. And feigned helplessness which I've also seen. Someone who simply cannot do xyz... that is, until they realize it's either them or no one. That's why it's best to back off. Somehow some way, she needs to do it without your help. She'll either figure it out or find someone else (preferrably paid) to help her who is right there instead of a thousand miles away.

Yes, it can be enabling to help someone who is like this. It's amazing what people are suddenly capable of doing when they're motivated! My MIL is like this, for her getting other people to do things for her is kind of a power play/control thing - I don't think she believes she can interact with people in a straightforward way, it always involves a trick or manipulation with her. I'm realizing that it's sad that she thinks no one will pay attention to her/help her/love her without some form of coercion. The sad thing is that the behavior is off putting and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy - she thinks no one cares, so she concocts a ruse to get them involved in her life, they find out and don't like being deceived and are less likely to care in the future.

camlan

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #83 on: March 13, 2013, 07:41:49 AM »
Learned helplessness is, IMHO, largely the fault of our media. 

Learned helplessness with technology, maybe.

But learned helplessness has been around a very long time, before home computers, at least.

I've seen it with friends and I've seen it with co-workers. They simply can't learn to use the blender or the copy machine or drive a car or use the tv. They flutter their hands helplessly and get someone else to do the work for them.

I have a feeling back in 1880, there was someone who couldn't learn to start the fire in the coal stove, or can peaches, or sew a seam.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Venus193

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #84 on: March 13, 2013, 08:34:56 AM »
Very true, Camlan.

With regard to technology, the media is responsible for imbuing the public with the insane idea that if Junior isn't on the information superhighway when he's two minutes out of the womb he'll be roadkill.  I have one friend who fell for this hook, line, and sinker and forever goes on about how young people grew up with computers and are therefore better at them automatically than she can ever be.

This is nothing more than a ploy by the tech companies to sell more units.  I have relatives in their 80s who are online and who play computer games.  The idea that you need to be young to learn them is poppycock and balderdash.

LadyClaire

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #85 on: March 13, 2013, 09:05:39 AM »
Very true, Camlan.

With regard to technology, the media is responsible for imbuing the public with the insane idea that if Junior isn't on the information superhighway when he's two minutes out of the womb he'll be roadkill.  I have one friend who fell for this hook, line, and sinker and forever goes on about how young people grew up with computers and are therefore better at them automatically than she can ever be.

This is nothing more than a ploy by the tech companies to sell more units.  I have relatives in their 80s who are online and who play computer games.  The idea that you need to be young to learn them is poppycock and balderdash.

My 81 year old grandfather enjoys using the computer. He's even on facebook. He does have trouble on occasion with new technology, but he figures it out himself, like most people will do.

LadyClaire

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #86 on: March 13, 2013, 09:09:15 AM »
Learned helplessness is, IMHO, largely the fault of our media. 

Learned helplessness with technology, maybe.

But learned helplessness has been around a very long time, before home computers, at least.

I've seen it with friends and I've seen it with co-workers. They simply can't learn to use the blender or the copy machine or drive a car or use the tv. They flutter their hands helplessly and get someone else to do the work for them.

I have a feeling back in 1880, there was someone who couldn't learn to start the fire in the coal stove, or can peaches, or sew a seam.

There's a professor at work who could not figure out how to save things anywhere but to her desktop. IT kept telling her to save things to her H drive, which is backed up on the network, because if a virus ever hit her computer or if the hard drive crashed she'd lose everything.

Sure enough, a virus hit her computer that was nasty to the point of infecting all her files, and she lost everything. She'd never backed up her files on a thumb drive or anything, so she lost years of exam question banks, lecture slides, research papers, and so on. You'd think she would have learned her lesson, right? Nope. About a year later, same thing happened.

She's in her 30s, so it's not even an age thing with her. She just refuses to learn how to properly use a computer, despite the fact that she used them in college and should be well aware of how they work.

Elfmama

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #87 on: March 13, 2013, 10:02:08 AM »

There's a professor at work who could not figure out how to save things anywhere but to her desktop.
That's where my mother saves her favorite websites. And emails that she wants to keep.  Because bookmarking something or clicking & dragging things to a folder marked "Stuff to keep" is too complicated. ::)  (It's that procedural memory thing again.) She was also VERY upset that her latest computer didn't have a floppy drive.  "Where will I save all of  my stuff?"  DH explained that she didn't need to save things to a floppy any more.  That the storage space on her hard drive was as much as 40,000 floppies.  And that we had saved all of the information to a thumb drive and we would put it on the computer for her.
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lowspark

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #88 on: March 13, 2013, 10:51:27 AM »
Learned helplessness is, IMHO, largely the fault of our media. 

Learned helplessness with technology, maybe.

But learned helplessness has been around a very long time, before home computers, at least.

I've seen it with friends and I've seen it with co-workers. They simply can't learn to use the blender or the copy machine or drive a car or use the tv. They flutter their hands helplessly and get someone else to do the work for them.

I have a feeling back in 1880, there was someone who couldn't learn to start the fire in the coal stove, or can peaches, or sew a seam.

The bolded above reminds me of the scene in City Slickers where Billy Crystal is trying to explain how to program a VCR to Daniel Stern and it is not sinking in. Bruno Kirby gets frustrated and angry and says something like "even the cows know how to do it by now!"


elephantschild

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #89 on: March 14, 2013, 08:46:46 PM »
Learned helplessness is, IMHO, largely the fault of our media.  After all, the media has told us that we can't do the simplest of things like put the dog in the car to go to the vet or boil water for pasta or cut with scissors -- it's tooooooo haaaaaaaaaaaard! 

Erm.  ???  As a member of the media, who's used to being blamed for everything under the sun, I'm wondering where this one came from. I can only assume you that things I've done have been more along the lines of "you can learn this!" than "it's toooooo haaaaaaard!"

Sigh.

OP, how is your MIL healthwise? The first thing I thought of when I read it was that she's starting to slip a bit mentally, and rather than admit it even a little, she's "hmmm"ing and stalling.
"But there was one Elephant -- a new Elephant -- an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions."
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