Mastering Technophobia

I am sure many of you in your 60’s, 70’s and 80’s experience the same anxiety that I do when you think about all the latest communication devices available to us today including laptops, desktops, tablets, e-readers, iPods, iPads, iPhones, and the confusing software that runs it all.{{more}} And that cloud thing everyone is talking about? I have no idea what it is. In fact, my ignorance is so elemental that I don’t even know the difference between my desktop and my hard drive, which is, perhaps, the technological equivalent of not knowing your elbow from your armpit.

It is only a year ago that I began texting. I admit that the mini iPad I was given as a present last holiday season has become one of my best friends. Yes, I have read one book on the iPad, but secretly I still like turning the pages of a hardback or paperback book and “feeling” how many pages I have left until the finish.

Lately I am meeting more seniors who are comfortably crossing over into the world of technology. An 83 year old acquaintance, who was a successful teacher in her career, became curious about the wonders of owning an iPad and ventured into the Apple Store on her own, an event by itself that can be intimidating, to purchase one. Now she is playing Words With Friends (just recently playing a word whose points equaled her age), taking, storing, and sending photos, and continuing to feed her curious mind by researching information on Safari.

Recently I heard about a 75 year old whose nephew kept urging her to have a Facebook account. After repeatedly saying she was “too old” for this, she finally relented and he showed her how to set one up. When the Boston Marathon tragedy happened, the whole family was concerned about another member who had gone to watch the race and had not been heard from after the bombing. Somehow this family member was able to post a message on his Facebook page, and the older aunt saw it and notified the family that he was safe and unharmed.

Don’t be afraid to master your technophobia! There are classes at senior centers. I still remember the class I took at the Orange Senior Center with Kathleen Gorelick who taught me how to use tablets, a skill I have used over and over since. She showed me how to drag files into a folder, a great way to organize all your important information in one place on your computer, rather than the cluttered files laying all over your desktop. Both Kathleen and Jacalyn Disenhouse, the other computer instructor at the center, can show you that technology is not a foreign, unfathomable tangle of jargon but rather a set of ideas as accessible to you and me as to any other person. Technology is worth the effort because it is changing the way we both learn and interact. Embrace these changes with optimism, enthusiasm and excitement instead of fear. Be curious. The more you use the technology, the less intimidating it will get. Who knows, I may even learn how to program my TV to record programs while I am away from the house!

Joanne Byrne served as Senior Services Coordinator for the Town of Orange. She is now actively and happily retired. Email her at to share your thoughts on retirement.