This week, for the trillionth time since the invention of the microchip, our elderly, balding white overlords held a congressional hearing to remind us they are in no way equipped to regulate anything Silicon Valley does. Highlights included fascist grandpa Rep. Steve King demanding that Google’s CEO explain why an Apple iPhone… said something mean about him? I don’t know, good luck figuring out what the fuck he was saying there.
But people recognized the mixture of anger and confusion coming from King and his House colleagues as they held up their phones while discussing phones, just in case anybody in the room didn’t know what they were referring to. And Wired writer Paris Martineau said it best: This is exactly like when your parents demand help with tech.
Yes, whether you’re giving mom and dad new gadgets as gifts or showing them, yet again, how to find the emoji keyboard, you will be expected to run tech support around the house for the duration of your stay. Maybe, if you’re exceptionally lucky, their Wi-Fi has been out for two whole months because they were waiting for you “take a look at it.”
No wonder we’re triggered by politicians who complain that Google Search is biased against them (for linking to articles that detail their bigotry and incompetence) and pretend their Twitter account was hacked when they type like a 74-year-old tripping on Ambien and Scotch. This is an absurd heightening of every conversation we’ve had with a parent who keeps sharing chain Facebook wall posts and clicking “1 Weird Trick” pop-up ads until their laptop is compromised by a Lithuanian troll farm and commits suicide. Only this time, national security and the fabric of the web itself are at stake.
Granted, not all parents are the same. My dad is a whiz on the iPad, and my mom has been leveling up on Instagram lately. When they do have a problem, it’s typically my little sister who gives them a solution — or they can argue with Siri until they forget what they were trying to do. Once in a blue moon, I might update their apps and feel like a hacker in Mr. Robot, even though I had to look up the extremely basic steps for accomplishing that. As I ease into my mid-30s, I can actually feel myself joining the ranks of old farts who need crash courses in anything remotely digital, and soon it will be my own age cohort running the shitshow on Capitol Hill as the internet-savvy youth winces at a generation that can’t get the hang of brain-synced cloud architectures.
Hey, at least millennials aren’t having kids, so we can’t conscript our offspring into being Genius Bar consultants who make house calls. We’ll have to go back to typewriters. Which we also won’t know how to use! “Amish retirement” is going to be very hot.
Back here in 2018, however, you’ve gotta suck it up and try to resolve any dispute your dad is having with his new smart fridge, or retrieve your mom’s Pinterest password. Consider it payment for the holiday lodging — and, you know, raising you from infancy or whatever. May as well show them you can do something, given that “changing a tire” and “filing a tax return” haven’t been added to your wheelhouse yet. Be patient, okay? Your parents grew up thinking the future would include cool robotic assistants that understood their every command, not McDonald’s touch-screens that haven’t functioned since some asshole dumped his orange soda on it. This too shall pass, and the sooner it does, the sooner the whole family can watch Love Actually without Netflix crashing.
On second thought, maybe set up a Hulu account for your folks. They deserve it.