BENGALURU: In an episode of Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s character Dev is exasperated by a problem many of us face: trouble shooting tech problems for his father.
The sigh of resignation and eye rolling is something many of us are guilty of as we show our parents how to share a photo to WhatsApp, or explain why the message they spent 10 minutes typing (with Oxford commas) is gone forever. (Umm… you deleted it?)
This past week I spent some time with my mother and mother-in-law and their new smartphones; answering questions, showing them the nuances of how to use their new gadgets (‘Why are all the icons dancing if I press this button?’) and explaining what LOL means.
My mother, like many others of her generation, has discovered that a smartphone is a compact gateway to many things she’s interested in: YouTube for kolams and kutcheris, Facebook groups to connect her to like-minded people across the world and like so many of her peers, Skype to watch her grandchildren grow up far away.
And while there’s little that she can’t figure out on her own, there’s always a set of ‘How do I…?’ questions that are collected when we’re apart.
If you, like me, have ever felt exasperated by these queries from your parents, I suggest you talk to your own children (if you have one or many) or any young person who is a digital native. You really will feel like they’re talking in a foreign language.
My children have tried to teach me how to play Minecraft, SkyRail, Dragon Vale and Real Steel.
I. JUST. CAN. NOT. No matter how many times they explain it to me. Initially, they seemed indulgent of my lack of ability.
Now, I can hear the huff of annoyance as they explain why one junkyard bot is better than the other or how we can spawn our own dogs to protect the castle we just built. I am sure I have heard snickering when I leave the room.
My own frustration builds up. ‘I played Space Invaders and rocked R-Type’ I want to scream. ‘I saw Star Wars way before you did. I am the reason YOU know about Star Wars. I am cool.’ I want to insist. Instead, I swallow it all down, shrug my shoulders and ask them to explain it to me. One more time.
So, the next time your parents ask you to find that photo of their grandchildren that seems to have vanished clean off the face of the earth, or ask for the nth time how to subscribe to a podcast or save a phone number, hold the eye roll.
Find a person born in the last 10-15 years and ask them to tell you what Snapchat is or why their Instagram feed (or whatever cool, new hipster photo sharing site they’re on) has pictures of them looking like demented cartoony dogs.
Then go back to your own parents and explain how to attach their files with patience and a smile on your face.
While you’re at it, tell your uncle what the emoji he thinks is a squirt of chocolate REALLY is. If he’s annoying, don’t. And LOL with your mom.