Coming out of the coffee shop I trip and squeeze my phone to help balance my latte. I manage to keep everything intact except for my ego. Flustered, I glance at my phone, “What am I doing again?” and touch Safari my favorite navigational compass. Clara’s Specialty Dresses. “Oh that’s right,” I say, opening my car door. Buckling my seat belt I plug in the address to GPS, click on Audible and listen to my book while I head off to meet my daughter.

I wish Safari could help me find everything on my phone. “Show me how to connect to WiFi again?” my younger self would ask my kids. “Here, I’ll do it,” they’d respond, taking the phone from my hand without showing me how, leading me to a bad pattern of helplessness. I now feel like a bird with clipped wings that cannot fly.

“You still don’t know how to do this Mom? Scroll down, no just scroll down, keep going,” my daughter says trying to help me find the right setting. Frustrated, I look up at her. “Did I stand behind you and say, ‘Just step, just start stepping,’ when you were learning how to walk?”

Trying to find anything in settings is like asking for directions in a foreign country. It’s been years since I’ve spoken the language of Apple. Back in the day I fluidly typed using every shortcut on my IMac while writing my Master’s paper. Today, I have to ask my phone permission to view a document. Every new upgrade is a reroute to my final destination. “Why can’t I open this Google Doc?” I’ll say aloud hoping my husband will help, I just don’t do it enough for it to stick in my memory.

“Are you an Amazon Prime member?” the very young Whole Foods cashier asked a while back. “No,” I lie. I’ve had Prime Amazon since she was in diapers but still get nervous scanning the app for Member discounts. Feeling all those millennial eyes judging me as they stand in line. I like to think handheld devices have made our society mentally lazy but in reality, I am the one lazy about keeping up on digital navigation. My lack of understanding has given me phone anxiety.

“Don’t close my Tabs!” I say to my son as he screen mirrors my phone to the TV. “Why do you have so many open?” Tab after tab scroll across the screen, How to pronounce Naot, 30 Fabulous Places To Travel, the Trailer for Love Story on You Tube, 20 Self Care Tips You Should Do To Start Living a Better Life. Can I tell him I sit at red lights searching answers to questions that pop into my head? Stuff I want to know but forget to look up by the time I get home? “I’m not done reading the articles,” I tell him, I’ll read them later in bed.

Arriving at the boutique I see my daughter in the perfect dress.

“I love it!!” I say.

“Completely out of my price range,” she answers back.

“If you teach me how to maneuver Google Drive I’ll help you pay for the dress.”

“You don’t have to help pay for the dress, I can show you how to do it right now,” she says.

“No,” I say, reaching for the dress. “I need you to teach me. I’m going to have a lot of questions and you’ll have to be patient with me.”

“Of course I will help you but let me carry the dress so you don’t trip and fall.”

I pull out my phone and type, “Best practices to avoid falling,” to read later in bed.

Digitally Challenged After All These Years was last modified: by

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