We all have a little boomer inside of us
The things about technology you just don’t get.
The soundtrack for this piece. —Kate
Despite being a fully functioning adult for about twelve years now, there are some things in life that I’m never going to master. It takes me ten minutes to parallel park a car, and I genuinely don’t know what I’m supposed to say when I step up to the post office window to mail a package. It makes sense, then, that some of these unexplained mental blocks would appear in our online lives, as well. In real life, you’re just being an idiot. Online, you're a boomer.
Actual boomer behavior has some hallmarks. For example, when your mom comments something like “Cute pic! Grandpa is not doing well…” on your public Instagram photo. One time my dad accidentally sat on his cell phone and butt dialed the home phone. He answered the landline and was on the phone with his own butt trying to figure out who called.
“Boomer” recently had a viral moment that has since played itself out, but the term has stuck with me colloquially. “Omg why am I a boomer,” I’ll write over Slack as my coworker points out something I messed up in the CMS. “Sorry I’m being a boomer,” I’ll say to friends when it takes me longer than half a second to navigate to the show we’re trying to watch on Netflix.
I wrote last week about feeling like I’ve “passed the age when I can seamlessly adapt to the internet’s constant evolution. It requires a lot more work, and recently, I've felt like I’m watching the internet move on without me.” There are certain things about the internet and technology I’ve decided I can’t attempt to keep up with, or habits I’ve held onto for too long that I just won’t shake:
Instead of using caps lock, I just hold down the shift key for as long as I need. EVEN FOR A SENTENCE LIKE THIS ONE, it literally seems like more work for me to turn caps lock on and then off again. I won’t change this.
If I’m working on a piece, I’ll keep the first drafts and early outlines and notes alongside the final project in the same Google Doc, because it genuinely feels like I’m saving paper.
I don’t quite know if this counts, but since it’s an electric car I’ll allow it: I’ve accidentally gotten into the wrong Prius twice. Why aren’t more people locking their Priuses? I might go into them!
I asked people on Instagram and in my real life for that one thing about technology they just don’t get or always screw up. The list was long and varied.
My friend Maya refuses to use a password manager. Instead she relies on a bunch of password variations and hopes for the best. My friend Leah—and this one does confuse me—often sends voice recording files instead of voice notes in texts, which seems like way more work but, again, I don’t use caps lock.
Nine times out of ten, Selena will read an email on her phone, but go and open up her computer to send her reply. Sarah always realizes the flashlight on her iPhone has accidentally been on. Nadia has to save a keyword in the “company” section of her iPhone contacts because she has too much trouble remembering who people are. After seeing Disney’s Smart House, Amelia decided she won’t speak out loud to technology like Alexa and Google Home. Ineye won’t use FaceID for similar reasons.
And then there were the broader things—lack of experience with TikTok and BeReal, or confusion about live television. In these divided times, the responses gave me some comfort. If everyone’s a bit of a boomer, then no one is.