For the past several years I have struggled with what I thought to be a rare disorder. At the time it didn’t have a name. My emotions ranged from feeling inadequate, embarrassed, frustrated, and insecure to all out avoidance which sometimes resulted in verbally combative and noncompliant behaviors.
I began to see early symptoms of my disorder shortly after the turn of the century. I vividly recall typing a document on my computer, accidentally hitting a button and losing everything. I was devastated! I teared up and couldn’t help but reflect on the good ol’ days when if I had been on my trusty Remington Typewriter this would have never happened! To make matters worse, both daughters were away in college and in different time zones. I was frustrated to no end!
When I finally made contact with them they both responded with the same question; Why didn’t you save your work? I learned my lesson the hard way and to this day more than a decade later I continuously save as I type even though I literally just this moment learned that computers now automatically save! Oh Lord, I’m getting that feeling again. Where have I been that I didn’t know this new function?
Around 2005 I was hit with yet another challenge, Facebook. I was perplexed as people would send requests to be my friend. I would simply write back “We are already friends. Hope all is well.” I have to admit I was beyond embarrassed when one of my girlfriends announced that she was Facebook friends with my mother! I began to wonder if I was displaying early signs of some age related cognitive impairment.
Next came LinkedIn! Despite the fact that everyone says I should join for professional reasons, I refuse to be linked with others. It sounds and feels like a type of bondage. Plus I have Facebook, email to read, text messages to respond to and now Twitter all which requires my attention. Does anyone just pick up the phone and talk anymore? I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious just thinking of this. It’s too much!
After studying all of my symptoms I have successfully self-diagnosed my condition as “Technology as a Second Language” or TSL. I coined this term because technology is a language with distinct rules and structure known almost innately by young people but not for people of my generation. There are also unspoken rules which govern the language such as when and how to use hashtags as well as how to “hit someone up.” For those of us baby boomers this is a second language and we should be accorded the same respect and patience given to second language learners!
For example, I was recently reprimanded by my social media queen millennial daughter for communicating with a stranger on Twitter. It seemed innocent enough to me but obviously it was inappropriate. I panicked and thought about how we teach our children about stranger danger! Had I innocently shared information with a potential nut? I felt sheepishly helpless but asked what should I do now? She sounded exasperated and said “Mom, PLEASE don’t do anything else. I took it down.” Don’t get me wrong, I was relieved but felt a twinge of indignation as I thought to myself, “missy, how dare you take down my tweet without my permission!”
Every day is a new day and I feel stronger and not alone on this journey as I share this with my baby boomer friends. Most are impressed that I’m on Twitter! In fact, Twitter is my new best friend.
I am proud of the fact that I can condense my thoughts to 140 characters by reducing words and entire phrases to a few letters, i.e. TY, BTW or LMAO. I feel so cool when my phone whistles to let me know that someone is hitting me up or favoriting my tweet.
I also know how to attach a pic and understand that when the number of characters is reduced, it’s nothing personal. The “twitter man” is not trying to confuse me. It just is what it is. My goal is to be able to write a text in 15 seconds or less like my daughter. I’m at 5 minutes, down from 10. It’s all good!
I’m learning and growing into technology and am beginning to feel like my old self again. I am slowly but surely regaining my confidence but have recaptured other qualities. I am strong and resilient! I am a TSL survivor and you can be too! I’m not alone in this fight and we can win it, with a little patience from our young friends and oh yes, one key stroke at a time!
If you are a non-millennial and share my sentiment, feel free to hit me up! I would like to hear your experience.