I like to think of myself as fairly tech-savvy. Perhaps this is an inflated opinion, but I have kept pace with most of the Wi-fi and cell phone upgrades. I have an X-Box (although I am NOT a gamer), I have an Echo, I have an Android, and I just changed internet service providers (ISP).
This is where my nemesis cleverly began to undermine my sense of confidence. I have changed ISPs before. This usually involved swapping out cable boxes and resetting passwords. This time it involved swapping out cable boxes, resetting passwords, finding work arounds for the streaming services I use, making sure that the home network spoke to all devices within my home, and connecting successfully to the wireless networks required for transmission.
Only some of these requirements were met by the time the very helpful technician left my house. So I began the quest for wireless connectivity. I had to log on to various websites, put my profile in, find the Youtube that described the “simple and easy methods to . . . “ Still, this left me with gaps, failure to connect and a desire to run away to an island somewhere and just read a book.
My levels of frustration increased with every discovery that my old routine did not seamlessly transition to this new ISP, even though there are virtually no differences in the hardware, network bandwidth, servers, or local links. Turning on the computer, my settings had to be re-configured. Turning on the TV, my channel guide, name/number, and HDMI had to be re-set. Streaming services like Hulu, HBO, and Netflix all seemed irate that I had made a change and demanded that I re-enter information to confirm that I was who I said I was.
This resulted in my researching contact and help information for all of the above. In today’s world, artificial intelligence (AI) has now taken over customer service, along with endless phone trees that lead to nowhere. Further frustration ensued as I attempted to find an actual human to speak with. This was only accomplished after I found a website, “gethuman.com”. I am forever grateful to the folks at this website who did all the hard detective work to find actual phone numbers that connect with real people.
Each of the services noted above has its own collection of synonyms for customer service. Several were obviously call centers located outside of the United States. Accents ranged from lilting and incomprehensible to high-pitched and unfathomable. Mind you, I realize my own difficulty with understanding arises from wearing hearing aids. I have become accustomed to saying, “I’m sorry. Would you repeat that?” multiple times. Other call centers were located in parts of the U.S. that had regional accents. I was addressed as “Miss May-ree” in the South, “Ma’am” in the Northeast, and “Mary” in the Middle West.
In all cases, the customer service folks were very helpful and actually got me the answers I needed to get back up and running. Why these companies create such barriers to accessing these helpful folks is beyond me! In each case, the company wanted to know how their customer service person performed. So I was deluged with endless requests for evaluation of and satisfaction with the service provided that showed up as texts or emails. Having filled all of them out, I am now exhausted!
My last hurdle was getting my Amazon Echo (Alexa) up and running. Here is where I surrendered! In order to switch to the new ISP, Alexa has to find an Amazon network. My Android (which is not bundled with my ISP) could not find it anywhere! Without that hidden network, I couldn’t get my Alexa up and running.
To complete this task, I had to employ the FINAL SOLUTION. This solution is the one that has been used by the most technologically sophisticated since IBM went online.
When in doubt, re-boot.
So I turned the app off, unplugged, reset, and plugged it back in. Once done, I completed the set-up and, after only 15 aborted tries, finally connected to my ISP and was able to complete the set-up and get Alexa back up and running!
I realize that many of us aging Boomers have less and less patience with the new iterations of equipment, faster and faster internet speeds and endlessly improved Android and iPhones. I also realize that there are those among us who are intimidated or afraid of the technological advances. I may not be fluent in SnapChat or Tweeting, and I certainly am lagging behind since I still frequent FaceBook, but I think it is essential that I at least make attempts to learn and stay current with these forms of communication and whatever new ones come along.
What was once considered a generation gap can now more accurately be described as a technology gap. It is vital that aging adults find ways to get plugged in and stay plugged in. It may be that our health and safety depend on it. It certainly is essential if we are to stay engaged with this rapidly developing world.