Blogtober 10: in praise of parents and tech

We were up late last night: me writing yesterday’s post, and my husband building a new computer. He hooked it up to the TV to do the setup, which I found amusing. A conversation about changes in telephones with WolfPurpleMoon the other day also made me think about both the technology I had access to as a kid, and my parents’ approaches to being humans.

My husband does not actually have a bowl of ramen for a head but he may as well do

When I was but a tooty wee thing, my dad was “the tech guy” in the family. This would be pretty average in many households but is notable in this case because by the time I have actual memories of him, he was already 60 years old. He was also the first in the family to graduate from dialup internet, and was always trying out the newest things – but in an eco-friendly manner. He had a solar panel installed on the roof almost 20 years ago, and as a member of the local City Council he was also on recycling committees and other “green” initiatives.

The computer we had when I was a toddler was a BBC Micro. There were a few programs that I was allowed to use which ran off the old-style floppy disks, including some that my dad had written for me himself! I learned my alphabet “normally”, but learned the computer keyboard through a program that showed a picture of a word beginning with whatever key/letter I’d pressed – B was a ball, P was Postman Pat, S was Spot the Dog, that sort of thing. My dad had “drawn” all of the images too, including an actual picture of me(! all in brighter or darker shades of green) for the first letter of my name.

not this exact one, but one very like it

He is also the biggest reason I don’t buy it when people say “Well, [person] is old, so [bigoted view] can’t be helped.” My dad was helping gay men get the benefits they were entitled to when he worked at the CAB post-retirement. He was always buying the Big Issue from the homeless vendors, regardless of their country of origin. He didn’t bat an eyelid when I came out to him as queer.

But it’s not even just my dad! My other parents – my mum and my stepdad (whom I also call “Dad”, just to confuse everyone) – are cut from a not-dissimilar cloth. My (step)dad wrote his PhD largely on an old box of a computer which ran Windows ’95, and when he published and they upgraded to a different PC, I got the old one. My mum got a laptop fairly early on too, only the lack of proper mouse gave her RSI so they took the mouse from my computer(!), which left me mouseless. I am actually very grateful for that, because it taught me how to use keyboard shortcuts for quite literally everything! My mum has participated in more Zoom meetings than I ever have, and my (step)dad is always after the best type of laptop or tablet to suit his wide range of needs.

Sure, as you get older it can be difficult to embrace new technology. Heck, I’m only 33 and it’s taken me a long time to care even remotely about TikTok (and even then, I barely use it). Gen Z slang leaves me cold honestly, I can’t be bothered keeping up with it all.

But I don’t buy age as an excuse for unpleasantness. There have been anti-racists, anti-homophobes, anti-fascists for as long as there has been racism, homophobia and fascism. Both of my remaining parents can now be classed as “old” (I love you both! How’s that winter fuel allowance?) and are both incredibly compassionate, intelligent and liberal-minded people. I have never, ever, ever heard any of them use any kind of slur. My mum and I are politically very similar despite (somehow?!) rarely having spoken about politics. I recently praised my stepdad for his interest in and support of feminism and he criticised himself, saying that he hadn’t always been so aware of things and was always looking to improve. This man is in his (early) 70s! Acknowledging his privilege and bias, and seeking to better himself! This should be the norm!

How about you? How are your parents, and grandparents? How much have they been able to move with the times?

11 Thoughts

    1. That’s interesting re: your dad being a bit more progressive! Does your mum come from a fairly conservative (small c) background? If so, I guess even if you try your best it can be difficult to overcome your upbringing completely 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Agreed that age is no excuse for bigotry. My parents are pretty technically savvy for the most part and pretty good about general progressiveness. Even if they don’t always know/follow “new” things or terminology too closely they’re open to listen and learn and change. I think that’s key. Everyone messes up sometimes, but there’s a difference between making a mistake out of ignorance and then correcting it and those who seem to revel in it. >_>

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘there’s a difference between making a mistake out of ignorance and then correcting it and those who seem to revel in it.’

      Really well put! Nobody can be expected to know everything and everyone makes mistakes, but when one continues to do things despite knowing (or even because!) it’s offensive, that’s an entirely different ballgame.

      And, thank you for commenting!

      Like

  2. Age definitely is no excuse for many of the things people say it is.

    As for me, my grandparents are a very mixed bag for me.
    I never met my grandfather on my mother’s side. He was ambushed and killed coming home from the war about 20 meters away from his home, wife and children. But I think my sister and I got our musicality from him as mum tells me he loved music and used to play the saxophone in a band. We have only one picture left of him (the family home was burned down and they couldn’t save much – only this one picture) and it’s up on the family altar at my uncle’s house – before it was at my gran’s house of course. I’ve only heard good stories of him (though I guess people want to remember him fondly so I don’t get to hear anything bad) so I want to believe that he was a good person.

    My grandmother on my mother’s side was and still kind of is, a role model for me in some respects. She was really religious (Catholic) and that’s the side I’m not taking after definitely but her personality and her inner strength are what I look up to. My grandmother came from a poor family and her parents passed away from sickness and overwork on the farms and mines when she was barely a teenager. It left her to take care of her younger siblings (she outlived all of them, too… she was strong). So my grandmother never went to school as a child. She worked and met her future husband and had her own children. It wasn’t until her oldest daughters went to school that my grandmother learned how to read and write, wanting to do more for her family than she was already doing – and knowing her husband would probably be drafted to go to war very soon. And so my grandmother learned how to read and write when she was well over 40 years old. She had the most beautiful handwriting in the entire family. It’s never too late to learn something and even if you start something late, it doesn’t mean you cannot be good at it. Is what I learned from her. So my grandmother always tried new things, unafraid of what people might think of her or how old she was etc. It didn’t matter. Coming back to her religiousness, I thought it stood in stark contrast with that… but it taught me that not all people who are super religious are also super weird or backwards in a way? Grandma was a very ‘love is love’ person, so she also took care of orphans later on in life, some of whom were queer. I’ve gone to church with her only a handful of times but once she told me after mass that ‘god made you who you are and that means you’re good the way you are’ and that’s really stuck with me.

    My grandparents on my father’s side… I loved my grandmother’s cooking. Her food was really good! But other than that, I have no good memories of that side of the family. My grandfather on that side was a military general and he treated his family in essentially the same way. He married my grandmother there because of traditions and whatnot and when my grandmother passed away due to sickness, he immediately reached out to an old flame he had somewhere to reunite (which threw up a plethora of other questions but let’s not get into that…) My most striking memories and thoughts about him in particular are him disowning one of my aunts because she married a man who could not have children with her (sterile due to sickness as a child) and he would not accept my sister marrying a ‘white guy’ (all of this despite having lived in Germany for however many years…. but yeah).

    So I guess that’s the ‘leading by negative example’ side of the family…

    It might come as no surprise that the same things are reflected in my parents. I have a difficult relationship with my dad (I love him but it’s … difficult). This is due to the fact that he was not around much for much of my childhood because he was busy at work (basically a salaryman…) and I spent the most time with my mum. But because he was brought up by aforementioned grandpa his views and everything are a little bit more, well, narrow than my mother’s. My dad isn’t exactly close minded but he most definitely has more conservative views than my mum. To this day, my mum knows about my sexual orientation (or lack thereof haha) but my dad thinks I’m straight.

    My dad is good with like ‘basic’ technology and he tinkers around with stuff a lot as he’s an engineer. My mother was terrible with computers but she really embraced her iPad and iPhone and has become quite a good user of both. My uncle was the tech person in the family along with my brother in law. So I learned most of the tech stuff from them.

    And omg I am so sorry this turned into a monster comment and went off topic a billion times >.<

    Like

    1. omg no don’t apologise, this is honestly fascinating!! Thank you so much for such a lovely comment. I feel like talking about your (enormous) family deserves a post of its own. I got so teary-eyed reading about your maternal grandmother, wow. This part in particular gave me chills: ‘It’s never too late to learn something and even if you start something late, it doesn’t mean you cannot be good at it.’ Honestly so inspiring.
      No, scratch that, I genuinely cried. ‘God made you who you are and that means you’re good the way you are’ oh if only, if ONLY more religious folk were like her 😭❤️

      Big, big yikes at your paternal grandfather, though. And you dad wasn’t around so much and is more conservative… Is he also more awkward about showing affection in that classic conservative way, too? I’m not surprised you have a closer relationship with your mum, even without the awesome family she came from!

      And when it comes to technology… My mum is a bit like yours, I reckon. Not that into computers at first, but really getting the hang of iPhones and iPads and so on. I really think that Apple have done a great job at making things genuinely accessible to all people. Like, say what you like about how the big tech giants ~control the world~, they’ve done brilliantly at bringing technology into the homes of everyday folk.

      Big big hugs!

      Like

      1. *even bigger hugs to you*

        Yeah if I get talking about my family I’d probably have to dedicate an entire blog to them lol There is so much and I don’t even know everything that’s going on anymore because the thing about family is, it multiplies!! (I haven’t the slightest as to how many offspring my cousins have produced, I gave up lol)

        My grandmother is a big inspiration and role model. I loved and respected her a ton. And I hope she and grandfather are happy up there in heaven.

        I don’t know if my dad’s way of showing affecting is awkward or not because I noticed recently that the way affection is shown in different cultural circles/contexts etc. can be quite different (you probably know this, too). Like, he’ll be affectionate in a physical way (English speakers or English speaking fandom, I found, is calling this ‘sniff kisses’ lol) and he’ll praise me and say he loves me and all that but there’s not the same ‘depth’ to it as when my mum does it if that makes sense?

        My dad is definitely the less empathetic one, too because when I had a mental breakdown because of too much family induced stress, his reaction was to yell at me and be angry at me and telling me to “speak up if you have a damn problem” instead of holding it in and then being unable to deal with it. Needless to say that didn’t do me any good in that situation. My mum took care of me then, giving me some alone time and space. Usually my sister would have helped me but this was when my sister’s wedding was happening, so she was super busy with her own stuff.

        My mum is the one who taught me to be tolerant and accepting and patient, I think. My mum had a lot of queer co-workers and she treated them all as friends and more and helped out people who needed help. I think the best way to describe how my parents were seen by people is when I meet other people who know my parents (usually who know either my mum OR my dad).

        The people who know my dad are always like “woah holy crap you’re OOO’s daughter!” and treat me with almost fearful respect (my dad’s a bit like a mafia boss, I swear…his network or people…and sometimes his influence… yeah okay let’s stop here lol)

        The people who know my mum area always like “omg you’re her daughter? she’s so nice!!!” and even most of my friends love my mum to little pieces.

        As for technology, I absolutely agree with what you said. And even though I know it’s all done for profit, there was more to it than just that. My professor at uni (who was my thesis supervisor), is actually the leading scholar in that field. The ‘user friendliness of electronics across generations’ was one of our research and also consulting topics. I think it is thanks to him that many big tech firms embraced that approach and focused on how to make their gadgets easy to use for all generations.

        It’s as the slogan of one of the big Dutch companies says: “Sense and Simplicity”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your parents sound awesome.

    I don’t know anything about my family tree or history beyond my grandparents (3 of 4 deceased), and I don’t even know much about my grandparents’ past, but none of them were techy. My maternal grandfather died before I was born. I was closest to my maternal grandmother, who lived with my parents and me until her death. My parents are not high-tech but they manage. My mom makes use of emojis and Line stamps. Random fun fact though: My grandmother neither spoke nor understood a single word of Japanese, and she couldn’t read the English subtitles, yet she was somehow a big fan of the old Abarenbo Shogun reruns that aired on TV. It’s the only reason I know of that show and its theme song when I came to Japan.

    Liked by 1 person

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