The Quest for Techies

The other day I received an e-mail from an organization that caters to seniors (of which I’m a member) and that has a 4 letter acronym as a title. This organization was offering a series of free classes in how to operate a smartphone, both android and iOS (Apple) phones. I immediately read further to get the particulars. I have an older android smartphone and my knowledge of its functions is basic to say the least. I can add and subtract people in my contacts, make calls, text, send a photo to an e-mail address and play with my Bitmoji app. That’s about it, so a class to learn more sounded excellent to me. However the letter also stated that our specific phones would NOT be addressed. We students would learn on a phone they would allow us to use during the class. I could just picture in my mind’s eye the chaos in a room full of seniors, all with “deer in headlight” syndrome, interrupting the instructor to ask how this lesson was different than on the phone they used. I had already experienced this phenomenon when I took a class in operating a late model camera and also when I attended a hospital lecture about AFib for which there are several different medications which all work differently.

The e-mail also said that two classes would be offered for android and two classes for iOS phones. One set of classes was offered in the morning and one in the afternoon for each, and these classes were available in St. Petersburg or Tampa. I live an hour north of each of these heavily congested locations. The next thing I noticed was that all the classes in the morning said registration was already full. I never even had a chance to sign-up for a morning class. And the afternoon classes concluded right at rush hour. Surprise, surprise! I wonder who was responsible for setting that schedule up?

I decided to call the number suggested in the e-mail for further questions and when someone answered they knew nothing about these classes. After fumbling around for a while, putting me on hold and coming back, they didn’t know why the morning classes were already full and they didn’t know why the afternoon classes were scheduled to get out at rush hour. They also didn’t know if any classes would ever be offered anywhere nearer me. Why was I not surprised? This sort of thing is so typical in today’s world. Some half-wit took a great idea and turned it into an idiot’s endeavor, by being too lazy or ignorant to figure out how to make these classes possible for people in this geographic area.

Some people have disdain for seniors, claiming they are too stupid or lazy to learn how to use a smartphone or other technology. Those who feel this way are not being fair. I am a senior and I love to learn new things, as do many of my friends. The problem is in finding a source for that learning. I’ve always been good at reading owner’s manuals or going to a store where I’ve purchased an item when I’ve gotten stuck. Owner’s manuals are no longer being printed. The manual that does exist is on the phone, but if one doesn’t know how to get to it, what good is it!!! And if by some miracle you do get to the manual, nothing is explained in detail. It’s assumed we are already tech knowledgeable. And phone stores don’t typically teach people how to use their phones. They upgrade!  The few classes I’ve seen offered are too basic for me. Talk about frustration! It’s laughable!

We seniors need patient young folks to offer instruction in operating cell phones!!! Other technology, too! We’re even willing to pay. Help!!!


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under How To, musings

15 responses to “The Quest for Techies

  1. I’m sorry to say I understand this frustration all too well!

  2. Diana Bell

    So I’m not the only senior to be confused or to feel like they do not want us to really know what’s going on the this tech world we live in.

    • No, Diane, you’re not alone. Part of the problem is that the young people who put the technology out there don’t have a clue where we seniors are coming from. They have always lived in a tech world and can’t actually empathize with us, so it’s hard for them to understand how to get basic with explanations. Gosh, I’m not sure that made any sense to anyone but me, but that my theory.

  3. Pat Gordon

    Hi Coco,
    I bought the Fitbit Charge 3 and a salesman in the Verizon store set up the App on my new Samsung Android Phone. I then called Fitbit to ask a tech man to help me complete the set up. I always had success in contacting the manufacturer of the product for help, saving me hours of frustration. We Seniors have no choice but to acclimate to the “computerized lifestyle”, and learning something new is great for the brain, as well as rewarding.
    Take care, Pat

    • Pat, you just said, “NEW” android phone. That’s my problem. I don’t have a new android phone. I have a J3, otherwise known as the Galaxy Sol. It is too old to get instruction from anyone. I found the manual online, but it is too vague. Not enough detail how to get from one place to another. No help. Also my carrier is Cricket, not Verizon or one of the other big companies. I was told by the manager in a Cricket store that he was not allowed to tell me how to use the phone I have with Cricket service. He is only allowed to upgrade me to a newer phone. I would gladly learn something new if I could figure out how without spending an arm and a leg (pardon the cliche).. I don’t really need to spend hundreds of dollars on a cell phone. I am a writer and spend most of my time at home in front of my computer, with which I’m fairly literate, and I have a much clearer-to-hear landline next to my computer.
      I’m glad you have the help you need, though.

      • Pat Gordon

        Coco. Last December, I spent $149 for my Galaxy J3. Just bare bones! But good for me. IPhones are too pricey. I still have my landline. Very few folks use or even have a landline. I keep my cp on to receive calls and text. Everyone is “married” to their cp! I go with the flow!

        • A-ha! We are two of a kind! We have the same phone! I keep my cell on, too, except overnight. Otherwise, it has a way of making mystery noises in the middle of the night that wake me. And I also have a landline. The sound quality is better than on cell phones, I find.

  4. Salustra

    I’m a PC techie not a phone one as just not that interested in living my life attached to one, other than to read of course but as my hubby is severely challenged on both, of necessity I’m the “Fixer” sigh. I find just getting in there and looking at all the various screens helps but most only the main functions and a few apps anyway. So Coco my recommendation is go online, those manuals they no longer print can all be found there, check out UTube videos, and tech sites. As for any actual classes best to ask at colleges/vocational venues where you know who is actually teaching. There is, no surprise, a lot of fraud out there aimed at seniors and tech. One thing I will say about Apple (I do own one) is that they offer classes & one on one training by appointment. Now if only could get my hubby to go.

  5. Cynthia Gesner-Hinson

    Enjoyed the Blog this month … all this technology but they can’t find the young people with the smarts to even answer questions on the phone. It’s sad but it’s really a dying art of communications!

    • Cynthia, Like I said to Diane above, many young people didn’t grow up like we did and they have always lived in a techy world so understanding what we are trying to deal with is nothing they can relate to. You are correct in stating that the art of communicating has suffered in this techy world. But we’re trying to hang in there and that’s all we can do. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. Salustra, I just answered Pat’s comment above yours and part of my answer should be for you, too. Youtube has not been any help because my phone is not modern enough. I haven’t seen any classes available in my area (colleges or otherwise) that are for people just BEYOND the basic level. I do know the basics. I also found the manual to my phone online, but there are huge chunks of information left out about navigating my model phone. And as I said to Pat, there really is no reason I need an expensive phone with an expensive phone plan when I have a perfectly good landline at home. I use my cell for emergencies when I’m in my car. I think that’s the reason I have delayed getting a fancier phone.
    You are right about Apple providing classes, however, but I have a PC and thus an android cell for compatibility sake. I appreciate Pat’s and your comments so much. they just didn’t provide a solution for me. I sympathize with Sam. I imagine he’s really glad he has you to run interference for him!!! Bless you.

  7. I’m so proud of my mum. When my brother was too busy to help her, she finally figured out that the spinning wheel on her Android apps was indeed the spinning wheel I was trying to tell her about over the (landline) phone (me in the US, she in the UK); thus she “fixed” her emails on her Android tablet and caught up on weeks of unread news. I’ve not converted her to an Android phone yet though.

    • Good for both you and your mum, Sheila! I imagine your mum was proud of herself, too. When I figure out something on my own, I do too! It actually makes us feel younger! Ha, ha. Thanks so much for your comment.

  8. I hate going in to the phone store to ask how I do something. The person immediately takes my phone from me and does what I’ve asked for, but that person never explains what he or she did, so, when it happens again, I’m back at square one. Personally, I think gadget geeks want us to be “stupid.” That way they can feel superior, especially to us seniors. They have no clue, that technology wouldn’t be what it is today but for all the seniors and DOA people who came before them!

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