The title refers to the fact that I’m looking for it, not providing it.
Mom and Her Computer:
The first question has to do with my mom. She’s had a computer for about eight years. She’s actually become increasingly less adept at using it during this time. I’m talking about basic things, like being able to create a word processing document and then save it to a specific location on her hard drive and find it again later. My mom basically does not know what an application is nor how a hard drive is arranged. The concept of highlighting items with her mouse and editing or moving them largely eludes her.
Early on, she learned how to use AOL (to some extent) and that’s about it. She has no grasp of the basics. None. Now that she no longer has AOL as a standalone application, she doesn’t really even seem to know how to check her email; she has weeks worth of unopened messages every time I visit. I tell her how to look at them. I come back the next week, and she’s surprised when I mention that those same messages are still unread. And it’s getting worse and worse.
This is not just a case of my being anoyed at having to provide occasional tech support to get her out of a jam, which I’d gladly do. No, I’m questioning whether or not my mom has any business even using computer at this point. I’m not sure that she really can learn what she needs to know, but even if she could, I’m not sure who could teach it to her. My mom is an intelligent woman, and she actually worked with computers in the 1970s and 1980s, long before most of the rest of us, but she learned a certain set of tasks with no background context, and I think it’s too late for her to recover from that.
It’s really causing problems for her. She gets so incredibly frustrated–often to the point of tears–and that, of course, gets me frustrated and stressed as well. Frankly, I don’t think she needs that extra stress in her life, and I’m pretty sure I don’t either. The computer was supposed to be fun for her. That’s obviously not how it’s working out.
I understand that there’s more to it than meets the eye. She doesn’t want to give it up because doing so would mean admitting that her abilities are getting more limited as she ages (although I’m 95% certain something like dementia is not an issue at this time). My mom is already depressed, I know, perhaps even clinically depressed, so maybe it’s good that she keeps trying. But it’s hard to watch her, and hard to take answering the same questions over and over again and never seeing any progress.
Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? How do I tactfully suggest that the computer may be doing her more harm than good and that it’s sometimes even making me dread visiting? I’d like to spend the remaining years talking to my parents, not getting annoyed by a piece of technology.
I recently discovered that someone I’m working very closely with on a project is also of a somewhat activist bent on the issue of “preserving” marriage (yes, we all understand what that code word means). This is someone I pretty much have to work with for the next few months, and I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to react the next time I see her. We haven’t really discussed our personal lives all that much, and I’m not even sure if she realizes I’m one of those “radical agenda-carrying homosexuals”, although it’s certainly no secret and not something I’ve hidden either. I just can’t remember if it’s come up in the conversation; I thought I’d mentioned my husband in passing at some point, just as she has, but I’m not sure. We’re not exactly “chummy”, although we get along fine.
I can deal with people I disagree with, which is good, since this would include most of the population. But it’s hard not to take this particular issue personally, rather like it would be difficult for an African-American to work with an avowed and vocal segregationist. We’re at the same point on the organizational chart, so it’s not a supervisor/subordinate issue, and it’s also not like the Agnes incident, because Agnes was nuts, and that involved a disposable part-time job anyway. Any thoughts on how to avoid letting this affect my work while still maintaining my principles?