Posted in #Confessions, Boo, technology

The High Cost of Low-Tech Living

            About ten years ago we accidentally let it slip that we were paying for AOL service.

It just came out in conversation when one of our daughters asked, “Why don’t you have a Gmail account?”

            “I do.”

            “Why don’t you use it?”

            “We’re happy with AOL.  We pay them every month, so why change?”

            “WHAT?  MOM!!  You can get AOL for free, Mom.  You didn’t know that?  How long have you been paying?

            “Since dial-up?”  I sheepishly answered.

            “M O T H E R!!!”

            “Are you sure it’s free?”  Boo asked.  “Cause I don’t think so.” 

            That was just the beginning of our walk of shame through life. 

            “What else are you paying for that’s free?”

            “How should we know?”  I said.

            When we have guests or our grandkids come over, there is always the dreaded question:

“Nannie, what’s your Wi-Fi password?  Is it still in the..”

“It’s in the drawer of the little…”

“We know.”

“Bring it here and I’ll read it to you.  Ready?  X?2php54%7*79Ux3Pr8!2xG.”

“Nannie, why don’t you change this so you can remember it?”

“I don’t know how, and besides, this way no one can steal the password.”

“Who wants to?” they asked.

I admit, I don’t know who would want to steal our Wi-Fi password, but you never know.

Boo and I are intelligent people.  We have master’s degrees and we both worked at large high schools, so we like to think that we still have a certain amount of street cred.  Or at least we used to.  But it’s one thing to know gang signs and another to deposit a check from your phone.  It’s one thing to catch kids smoking in the bathrooms, and another to connect a phone to your car.  We have slipped into the uncool category.

Not long ago we had a business transaction with one of our daughters.

“I’ll VENMO you the money, Dad.”

“I don’t VEN-MAIL.” Boo answered.

“VENMO.  OK, how about ZELLE?”


“Never mind, I’ll VENMO Mom and she can write you a check.”

“That’s better,” he said.

Is it even bragging if I say I am more high-tech than Boo just because I have a VENMO account?  It sort of feels lowish on the tech scale.  For heaven’s sake, I just now ordered my groceries online.  I know I’m late to the party, but I love it.  However, I have no idea what Instacart is or how it works, but if TARGET can come to my house, then it might be worth exploring.

When I told one of our other daughters how much I had to pay for my XM Radio, she said, “I never pay full price.”

“What do you mean?  I get an annual renewal fee,” I said.

“I just call and tell them I can’t pay that amount and I want to cancel.  Then we haggle back and forth for a minute, and they end up telling me I qualify for a special deal.  It usually saves me $100.  I do it every year.”

How do our kids know all of these ins and outs?  And when did EVERYTHING become technical?  Our doctors are on ‘my chart,’ which means we can make appointments and see our test results online, at least some of us.  Boo still does not know how to access his chart.  He always ends up somewhere on the site he doesn’t want to be or with an appointment in some obscure clinic across town.  I usually schedule his doctor’s appointments, but when he asks me to send them a message or question, I take the liberty to ask what I want to and then sign his name.

By the way, is it considered low-tech if you still print out driving instructions from map-quest?  I’m asking for a friend.

I recently bought a new car.   I thought I was all Bluetoothed and ready to go.

“I can’t hear you,” my callers say.

I have disconnected, reconnected, sync’d, read the manual, googled, and asked a friend.  I cannot for the life of me get my phone properly connected through my car.  I can hear callers, but they can’t hear me, and to make matters worse, I now have an obnoxious buzzer ringtone that plays when someone calls, and I cannot change it.

My blood pressure is going up just mentioning our technical difficulties.  I wish I could brag about some other things we are really great at in spite of our low-tech ways, but nothing is coming to mind.  We do have a Keurig coffeemaker, does that count?

Even saying that makes me cringe.  Perhaps we’re ‘cutting edge’ in ways the world does not promote.  We could use words like digital, cyber, and state-of-the-art, but being flashy is just not our style.  We prefer to fly under the radar and keep our techie-ness to ourselves.

Let’s face it, Boo and I will never be truly high-tech.  The best we can hope for is somewhere in the middle and not paying for internet mail services.  It’s the high cost of our low-tech living.