There has been a lot of talk about the iPad lately. There is one article I want to focus on: Why My Mom’s Next Computer Is Going To Be An iPad. The author explains why he’s getting his Mom an iPad.
The iPad is perfect for her. It does exactly what she needs. It will let her watch movies and listen to music and read books on long flights. It will make using a computer fun instead of an annoying chore.
But it also won’t allow her to install umpteen news and weather gadgets that start up on boot and slow her computer to a crawl. It won’t suddenly forget how to talk to a network, or get so confused by all of the software installs and uninstalls that you finally have to break down and reinstall the system from scratch. In other words, my mother’s next computer is going to be an iPad, and I dream of the day when I can finally throw off the oppressive chains of being the one guy in the family who knows how to actually keep a computer working.
Translation: He’s getting his Mom an iPad because it’s more convenient for him. He will no longer have the burden of being the one to fix the family computers.
When I read that I cringed. Actually, I thought, “What an ungrateful asshole” and I left it alone. Seeing more responses like his and remembering pain from disloyalty I went through, I decided to write about the ungrateful disrespecting behavior I’ve noticed lately. And before you tell me, “Tyme, he probably didn’t mean it that way…”
Research: Am I the only one?
I wanted to know how others felt about the article. I asked people their opinion about the article without stating my thoughts. First, I asked my kids. My daughter’s jaw dropped and my son gave his WTF eyebrow arch when they got to “oppressive chains” part. Then I asked them what they thought about it. They both said they didn’t have to worry about having to fix my computer because I build my own computers. Besides that, they thought the point of giving a gift is giving the person what is TRULY best for the receiver, not what is convenient for the giver.
Next, I moved on to my friends, who said they would never put something like that in writing about their Moms. It’s a disrespect and a sign of disloyalty. They would be afraid their mothers would read it and it would hurt her feelings. By this point I became curious about the disconnect and wanted to push the boundaries further.
Armed with my iPhone, I asked some ghetto kids (maybe 15-20 in age) how they felt about the article. Yes, they looked at me kind of funny but I told them it was research. Similar reactions. They did not fix family computers but they understood what it was like to be the only one in the family that could fix cars, fix things around the house, understand technology…the parallels are the same (actually, fixing cars is worse than fixing a computer). They knew what it was like to have people always come to them, when they could handle it themselves even if it meant paying for it. However, they all said if their mothers needed something, they had no problem. Some shared stories on how hard their Moms had it being single parents or how much their parents sacrificed for them. They might not be the best kids (they admit that) but if their parents need something, they get it, inconvenient or not.
Since I wanted to go to the mall, I decided to hit the suburbs and ask around there. Different target group. Recharged the iPhone and went to work. This time I asked kids, some with their parents, to read the article and express their thoughts. Let’s just say the parents weren’t pleased at being “a burden” but the kids had the same attitude expressed in the article. The parents would joke, “I can’t wait until I am released from the oppressive chains of having to be a limo service for you” or something like that but the WTF look was on their face. One father said to his son, “Nice to know how loyal you are.” The kid didn’t get it…too busy complaining (bragging?) about being the tech whiz in the house.
The last test group: older mothers. Still in the suburbs, I went to a different mall – where the more mature crowd hangs out. I always feel undressed going there. Anyway, I looked for wedding rings, prayed they had some kids, and did the same thing. These women were more than happy to talk. See, parents are wise and they know when their kids feel they are a burden. Many hate to ask. Reading the article they expressed their disdain in knowing all the sacrifices they made and all the hard work they put into trying to raise their children right…and that’s the result? It’s a pain in the ass to fix the computer? It was a pain in the ass to save for their college education – why not pay that money back? Or the contribution to the weddings. Free babysitting. They had a nice long list too but one thing was very clear: it would hurt them if their child bought them an iPad not because it was the best option for her, instead it was the easiest way of getting out of fixing computers.
Another interesting tidbit: some of the mothers were not computer savvy, but some were slowly learning. The ones more advanced said the iPad was too limiting. They can’t video Skype with their grandchildren because the iPad doesn’t have a camera. Picture sharing isn’t as easy either. They prefer reading paper bound books, for the experience, and adding the books to their libraries. Some like playing games on Facebook. Their point: as they learned to do more on the internet, they do not want to be confined.
I had my own experience with ungratefulness and disloyalty which cause me to open my eyes and question how I was treating the people in my life and how they were treating me.
I had a friend, let’s name him Andy who, at the time, I’d known three or four years. Platonic friendship, we went through a lot together as life tends to throw hurdles when we least expect it. He went through some hard times, it seemed one bad thing after another. I knew he wasn’t doing the best he could, I knew he had the potential to be more than he was, I knew he lied to try to hide he wasn’t doing the best he could, I hoped that one day he would sincerely want to do better. I also knew, from experience, he was at the “screw up” age – the prime age to screw up, get it over with, and move on to a better life. Better to screw up earlier than later in life when the price is higher. I tried to be a loyal friend. No matter what was going on he didn’t have to question whether, if he needed me, if I would help him out. There were two instances when I said, “I can’t do this” because, frankly, I would have been an idiot to do it…anyone would have.
Andy met a girl and after a month or so, felt she was “The One”. Sort of, because he didn’t treat this girl very well initially. I warned him he’d lose this girl if he kept it up. I guess he lost the girl then did what guys typically do, he wanted her back. Which, of course, leads to the “making it up to her, jumping through hoops” stage. During this time I noticed my friendship with Andy changed dramatically, even mentioned it to the guy I was seeing at the time. I became the person he spoke to only if a problem arose. I didn’t understand why, wondered what I’d done…until recently. While gaming with friends, the guys were casually talking about the things guys do jumping through hoops for women that, in the end, were a waste of time. During that conversation, I saw very clearly what happened between Andy and I. He must of told the girl some of the times I helped him out, instead of being grateful he had a friend who had his back, she became jealous (maybe hurt he lied to her) and I got the shaft. A woman Andy knew for a couple of months wiped out and was more important than the three to four years of loyalty I consistently showed. If I was the girl, my response would have been, “Andy, I’m glad you have a friend that supports you. I’d like to meet her one day. But, we need to deal with our problems as a couple…” Given the fact that she benefited by my actions and I tried to help HER out by telling HIM to straighten up (literally, I put my foot down but, behind my back (and hers), he still did what he promised he would not do – so much for really liking that girl, right?), I didn’t take the realization very well. My heart broke like glass. Especially since that opened my eyes to other betrayals that fit together like pieces to a puzzle. For some reason Andy holds on to screwed up people and lets go those who are truly loyal.
Look around the internet and you’ll see people reveal things that will make you wonder what type of person they really are. People who, literally, love technology more than their spouses. People who aren’t trying to “network” with people because they feel they legitimately have something in common; instead, they attract because of what they feel they can gain from the people they are attempting to connect to (without giving something in return, of course). An alarming amount of people openly complain about their jobs yet, if they lost the job, would be broke (we won’t get into they could change their job). It’s odd how people don’t appreciate what they have, seek more, and slide into unsavory behaviors treating people in a way they most likely would not want to be treated themselves.
Not long after that, my Mom passed away.
My Mom and her computers
I had a different attitude about Mom and computers. I wanted her to experience everything the internet had to offer, if she wanted to. I got her top of the line computers. I taught her how to use them. Did I occasionally have to fix her computer? Sure. Did she learn how to fix many of those issues herself (and how to avoid them)? Over time, she did, because I taught her. The benefit? I had the pleasure of her interacting on the forums with me and in comments. My readers had the opportunity to learn from her, interact with her and have fun with her. She watched my online business and sites change and evolve. I laughed with her every day, even when she was sick. Before she died, the image of her I have: smiling. Saying she loved me. I can still feel my lips on her face and I remember how her hands felt in mine.
I’m grateful that, not once, did I feel the “oppressive chains” of fixing her computer.
And I’m especially proud I was loyal, grateful, and appreciative until the end. I’m glad I didn’t become selfish and opt not to get her top of the line computers because it would have been an inconvenience to me. Do people go overboard asking for free help with their computers? No doubt, but I think it is twisted when people place their parents in that category, considering how much our parents sacrificed to help us be the people we are today. In most cases, if they could do better, they would. Educate them instead of punishing them.
Take a look at the people in your life. Are you treating them the way they deserve to be treated or are you treating them when it is convenient for you? Are you showing your appreciation to the people in your life? Are you becoming selfish and ungrateful to those who have earned your loyalty? Do you have your priorities straight?
Get it together.