Perhaps you’ve notice it too. The technology blame-game, I mean. Although it’s grown more acute since the pandemic, it has been around for as long as the tech disparity has existed. A typical scenario goes like this: someone (often of a more senior generation) encounters a techical problem communicating with someone else (often of a more recent generation) and asks them what the problem is with their (the younger person’s technology). I sent you the message, the narrative goes, there must be something wrong with your tech if you didn’t receive it. Believe me, I understand how bewildering this can be. We’ve sold seniors (one of which I am rapidly becoming) on the idea that this little device in your hand can do anything. When it doesn’t work, it must be somebody else’s fault. The young, however, often have the latest tech and fastest speeds and broadest bandwidth, so the problem is probably on the sending end.
I run into this quite a bit since I run a small program for some local folks that involves weekly Zoom meetings. I’m no Zoom maven. My wife trained me in it and I can do passably well at running a meeting. Many of those older than me, however, often have problems. They wonder what is wrong with my broadcasting rather than their receiving. I’m not sure how to say ever so gently that we pay (through the nose) for high-speed connectivity. We have to since I work from home as a matter of course. Now my wife also works from home and the two of us use our bandwidth all day long with multiple simultaneous meetings without any issues. The tech here seems good. We have no way of checking the tech on the end of those who are having connectivity issues.
I’m not setting myself up as any kind of tech prophet. If you read my blog you know that I am deeply ambivalent about this whole thing. I’ve been thinking a lot about overpromising recently and I wonder if that’s not a major part of the problem. Technology will not solve all of our problems. The fact that you need a regular source of electricity for it to run shows its inherent weakness. It is a tool like any other, and if the tool is bladed to be useful it must have a dull part onto which one might hold. Our Zoom society is bound to have issues. Once we can see each other face-to-face again, all we’ll have to worry about is whether the laptop will communicate with the projector, or if the microphone is on the fritz this morning. So it always has been.