Many years ago, when I mentioned to a friend that I was not on Facebook, she put me on the site. Briefly, I thought of it as a favor, but that thought did not last long since, most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing on it. But I do know that if I do not know what I am doing, it is best to keep my distance. So I do very little on that social-media site. Most of the time, I just read what others have written. When I mentioned that to one of my daughters, she attempted to enlighten me by explaining that, on Facebook, one does not “write;” one “posts.” Being old-school, I continue to think of what I read as something that has been written. However, I am very careful not to slip up, so when speaking to any of my offspring, I use the word “post.”
Most of the time I eschew Facebook but occasionally my curiosity gets the better of me and I take a peek. When I see something written (posted) that I like, I attempt to share it with others. The problem is that, being so inept at dealing with Facebook, I never know if anybody sees what I share. And if people do see it, does it appear that the message is coming directly from me when in fact I have simply copied it from somebody else? Joe Biden was said to have plagiarized often, and my concern is that maybe I, too, am a plagiarist—and I have enough problems without adding plagiarism to the list. On the other hand, Biden is now president of these United States, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it.
Would that Facebook activity was my only technology problem. It is not! On occasion, e-mails cause difficulty for me as well. When I get an evite, I have no idea how to respond. It isn’t that I don’t try. I do! It just doesn’t work for me. So in the end, I simply call to say that I will attend the event.
Last year, when I received an evite to a bridal shower for my granddaughter, I realized immediately that I was in trouble because it was not simply an invitation. This evite came with instructions that were about as clear to me as hieroglyphics. I was supposed to click on something to indicate what food I would be bringing to the shower. For me, this was an “oy vey” moment. Perspiring heavily, I finally spotted a menu and knew that I was supposed to type my name into the space next to the food item that I wished to contribute. Next, I was instructed to hit “reply,” hit being a euphemism for click on. Doing so would send my response to the sender.
I thought I did all that, but, as is all too often the case, I wasn’t sure I had done it correctly. Thank goodness, the sender of this complicated evite was the bride’s older sister, another of my granddaughters. I was unsure if she would actually see my name and know what I was planning to contribute. Confused, which is my natural state regarding anything computer-related, I did what I usually do: I sent a separate e-mail to let her know what I would be bringing. That wasn’t enough for me so I followed it up with a phone call and left a message on her answering machine.
An hour later, when one of my daughters happened to call, I told her how I had dealt with the evite and the menu question. She gave me one of those world-weary sighs that was, as always, clearly audible. She explained that once I had typed in my name and hit reply, everyone who had received the menu list would see it and know what I was bringing. I pretended to understand what she was talking about. It was disingenuous on my part, but I did it because I didn’t want to hear another sigh.
She explained that what I had received was a DM. That did earn me another sigh because I had to tell her I did not know what a DM was.
“Mom, DM stands for direct message.”
I told her that all of this was too complicated for me. It was then that she said, “Ma, just for the record, we do not even need to be having this conversation and you did not have to deal with the menu that was provided because, as the grandmother, you are not expected to bring any food. The DM was meant for the young girls, the bride’s friends.”
Great! I had wasted my time, schvitzing and suffering angst for no reason.
Just at that moment, I was receiving an incoming e-mail and, through the phone, my daughter heard the words, “You’ve got mail.”
“Ma, OMG, you still have AOL? I feel like I’m back in the 1980s and watching When Harry Met Sally.”
As we were not on a FaceTime call, I was unable to see her. Nevertheless, I was sure that she was doing her famous eye roll. I sometimes get a sigh and at other times I get an eye roll. She went on to say that using AOL makes me something of a dinosaur. In her opinion, anyone who still uses AOL falls into the “dinosaur category.” Unable to resist the temptation, I said, “Yep, I’m a regular Tyrannosaurus Rex, but since you and I are close, you can call me T-Rex.”
Since she was momentarily speechless, I seized the opportunity to follow up with, “I had no idea you were into the study of paleontology.”
At the same time I wondered what she would say if she knew that I have no clue about so many other things. I don’t understand Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Snapchat. But I chose not to mention any of that. Instead, I resorted to more humor: “Just count your mother among the old reptiles.”
I am sure that she does just that. That’s just the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435. Read more of Hannah Berman’s articles on 5TJT.com.