People are sharing endearing stories of how their elders use—and misuse—technology

As a Gen X parent, one of my favorite things to do is tell my tween and teen children what it was like to grow up before the internet and smartphones. They have no idea how people got around before Google Maps, listened to the songs they wanted before Spotify and binge-watched shows before streaming services.

I've seen all of those big tech changes in my adult life, and I'm in my 40s. People older than me have seen a great deal more and have experienced the acceleration of technological change more intensely than my generation has. It's a lot, and it can be hard to keep up.

Twitter user Marti Woolford shared a post that perfectly encapsulates the challenges modern tech can pose for our elders—and how endearing it can be when they blend the new with the familiar.

Woolford's post shows a photo of a piece of paper with a handwritten note and a scanned smartphone with a picture pulled up on the screen. She wrote:

"Today I received in the mail a letter from my mom. It was a photocopy of her phone-she wanted to share a picture that is on her phone with me. A picture that is on her phone. She photocopied her phone and mailed this to me."

Classic, right?

In a follow-up tweet, Woolford added, "I should mention this is a photo of actress #JanePowell & #GearySteffin from their 1949 wedding. My mom, in her unique cursive writing, was saying that her mom used to tell her she looked like Jane Powell & she can now see the resemblance. Jane Powell passed on 9/16/2021."

People loved the post.

Woolford's post prompted a flood of similar stories, which truly should be collected and put in a museum somewhere.

Of course, some older folks manage to adapt to technology without much issue. My 75-year-old mother is a gamer and knows far more about computers than I do, whereas I find myself rolling my eyes when I have to figure out a new app. So I totally get where the elders who struggle with new technologies are coming from.

We are in a narrow window of time where we have humans walking among us who went from rotary phones to smartphones and from no TV to having thousands of movies to stream on-demand on our laptops. Our elders lived full lives before the explosion of the digital age, and it won't be long before those bridges to the low-tech past disappear altogether. This thread offered a good reminder that even as we chuckle at how they use (or misuse) technology, we should definitely cherish the precious gifts they have to offer while we can.

This article originally appeared on 04.13.18

Teens have a knack for coming up with clever ways to rage against the system.

When I was in high school, the most notorious urban legend whispered about in hallways and at parties went like this: A teacher told his class that they were allowed to put "anything" on a notecard to assist them during a science test. Supposedly, one of his students arrived on test day with a grown adult at his side — a college chemistry major, who proceeded to stand on the notecard and give him answers. The teacher was apparently so impressed by the student's cunning that he gave him a high score, then canceled class for the rest of the week because he was in such a good mood.

Of course, I didn't know anyone who'd ever actually try such a thing. Why ruin a good story with reality — that pulling this kind of trick would probably earn you detention?

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