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.
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.
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?