Digital Distress

Last week I wrote a post about updating my digital tools. I never got to share my post because I was unable to get onto my blogging site: WordPress. I have struggled with this issue for nearly two weeks and was ready to give up blogging (really) until my husband googled “unable to log into WordPress on ipad”. He found someone on WP trying to help people who were having the same difficulties.  He learned that WP had changed its platform  requiring a later version of IOS which I didn’t have. To upgrade, according to my husband, would have meant slowing down everything on my computer to accommodate the new system. He advised against upgrading. I could no longer use my iPad for blogging  and must now use my new MacBook Air to write my blog on WordPress.

This may not seem too dramatic to those who are more fluent in the digital world than I am, nor to my younger fellow bloggers who are digital natives.

But to me it was catastrophic. I was upset, exhausted by my failing efforts to figure out the problem, and depressed because I felt my blogging world collapse around me. I felt like I was losing ground in keeping up with the digital world. I also realized how dependent I’d become on blogging weekly; blogging lifted my soul because it gave a welcome structure to my weekly activities and a voice to share my thoughts with the Two Writing Teachers community. I learned that I had, indeed, come to need writing in my life. This was both a revelation and a source of pain, since I had lost access to my writing world.

Here is the post I wrote last week (but never published) as I was adapting to my new digital tools, before I was swallowed up in the digital Black Hole.

January Reflections

Yesterday my daughter and I took a lovely walk in the bitter cold in our nearby park. The sun was shining which allowed us to sit on a bench for 10 minutes following our walk to sunbathe and replenish our depleted stores of Vitamin D.

Today is another cold day in the northeast, but it’s gray and I don’t have the motivation to take a walk. Instead I decided to open the box containing the new MacBook Air I received as a combination birthday/Christmas present this year. These are my very first words typed on the new keyboard. I also purchased an Android phone recently after years of hanging on to my flip phone. Clearly I am entering a new phase in my life as a senior citizen.

How did this happen? I remember a very close, older friend of mine who is now deceased but who was a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who told me I must keep up with new technology to avoid becoming out of touch. Until recently I was doing fine with my iPad, which I had won at a teachers’ annual union dinner about five years ago, and with my flip phone which I used only for necessary phone calls but mostly ignored as I am not a “phone person.”

But although I love my iPad, it frustrated me at times because of its idiosyncratic way of doing things which sometimes prevented me from following through on certain tasks because I had no one to advise me how to proceed. And I was beginning to be a bit envious of people with iPhones who were able to take amazing photos and share them, and search for information/resources in the moment. So I began to drop hints at home that I was entertaining the idea of upgrading my personal technology.

I surveyed the folks in the Two Writing Teachers community regarding the pros and cons of choosing an iPhone or an Android.

The responses were wonderful, but about equally divided. I ended up choosing the Android as a compromise; I thought it would be a good “first” smart phone at a very reasonable cost. Even if I use it for only a year, I reasoned, I haven’t made a huge investment financially, and I do love the larger screen and more user-friendly keyboard for texting. The computer was a different matter. I knew I wanted a Mac since everyone in my family uses one. I also knew I wanted something very portable and lightweight. Hence, the MacBook Air.

So here I sit, embarking on a new learning curve. For two weeks I couldn’t even answer my new phone because I didn’t realize I had to press on the phone icon while swiping it to make the phone connection. I was pressing on the phone icon and nothing was happening. I was swiping (and not pressing the icon) but then losing the call. I was not doing both simultaneously! Talk about a humbling experience! One quick visit to the Verizon store and I was shown what to do. Duh! The whole process is somewhat infantilizing for those of us who are not digital natives. We must swallow our pride and soldier on if we are to make this leap. The Verizon rep was very patient and very helpful which made feeling so vulnerable less stressful.

I know that this will be a challenging growth period for me as I surrender my comfortable routines and familiar gadgets in exchange for learning new systems that I hope will provide me with more desirable options. I know I will often wonder whether making the changes I need to make in order to adapt to my new devices makes any sense at my age. I know I will often fail and have to ask for help. I know that “this, too,  shall pass” and eventually I, too, will become a happy Mac user as I become more confident in my newly acquired skills.

Will these changes ultimately make a significant difference in my life? Probably not. College graduation, marriage, raising a family, having a challenging but rewarding career were life changers. Having cancer and surviving it was, and still is, the most dramatic event in my life. A new phone and computer don’t even come close!

Fast forward to today (Sunday, Jan 21st)…

I am back on my WordPress blog, no thanks to WordPress. com. Many thanks, instead, to my husband who diligently searched for an answer to my problems and who patiently walked me through the steps I needed to go through to share this post today.  I was in a black hole of digital despair, but today I have been handed a lifeline to which I am clinging.  Stay tuned for more adventures in Digital Distress!

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barbara suter

I'm a retired teacher who enjoys writing and sharing in this; unique blogging community.

9 thoughts on “Digital Distress”

  1. Nobody really talks about how much time it takes to learn all this stuff, but it takes a lot of time. And, the learning happens over a long stretch of time. Don’t try to learn everything all at once. Every time you have a question, a problem, or something you want to do, set aside a chunk of time, whatever is best for you and how you learn, and settle in. I can’t do more than 2 hours of trying to master new stuff without wanting to bash in my computer. Sometimes I quit after 15 minutes.

    Plan to Google a bunch of stuff. This means, of course, that you’ll need a way to store and organize your links, which is another thing to learn, if you don’t already know how.

    This digital world is often like that– one thing after another that needs to be figured out, but if you take the time as you go along, you’ll build a good foundation for yourself. You’ll be short term frazzled, but less frustrated in the long term.

    You can do it!

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    1. Very good advice! Thank you for taking the time to explain the process and share your thought about it with me. It is very reassuring. My husband is always telling me to google any questions I have. Sometimes I do; sometimes that helps but sometimes it’s still too challenging. Baby steps.

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  2. I am so with you on this. Technology is so far ahead of me that I will never catch up and I don’t really know that I want to. Glad you were able to get things straightened out and you are back. Heck, these days even my car is smarter than me.

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  3. This is why I hesitate to change and update technology, there is such a learning curve! Glad you were able to get back into WordPress. I could never figure out how to post from the iPad, so I’ve always used the computer for posting slices. Keep at it, it will get easier!

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