Just because you pre-date the age of technology doesn’t mean you’re thick or half dead. It’s time they started playing myTune at iTunes.
Some years ago, a telly ad for the Financial Regulator featured a bus full of regular passengers going about their normal business when, suddenly, one of them stood up and, with an anxious expression, confessed to his fellow passengers: “I don’t know what a tracker mortgage is.”
It opened the floodgates. In turn, the other passengers stood and made their own confessions about seemingly everyday financial terms they didn’t understand.
It was funny. As an ad, it worked. People liked it and remembered it. And related to it. At the time, the economy was booming, money was everywhere and everyone (‘cept me) spoke like they knew what they were talking about. People didn’t have ‘a few bob in savings’ anymore; they had investment portfolios. They didn’t put the odd fiver in a biscuit tin for a rainy day; they dabbled in real estate and bought condos on the Algarve.
Back then, we had a whole different vocabulary and, a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes, nobody was prepared to admit they didn’t really see it, get it, understand it. The Financial Regulator ad was the equivalent of the innocent and honest child pointing at the naked emperor. The small child wasn’t afraid of ridicule or scorn. He just didn’t get it. He couldn’t see the clothes and he simply said so. The honest statement gave confidence and moral courage to others. People began to admit they couldn’t see the Emperor’s fine clothes either – they only said they could because they were afraid others would think them stupid and thick. People were relieved to know they weren’t on their own. They were no longer afraid to be honest.
So the ‘tracker mortgage’ ad served its purpose well. It reassured us that it was OK to admit to being thick about things that are new to us. Even though the ad is no longer on the telly, the ‘I don’t know what a tracker mortgage is’ line remains in our national lexicon as a kind of informal admission of bewilderment. In writing and in speech, people preface their remarks with *stands up on bus* in order to let their reader or listener know that they’re about to make an admission.
Well, here’s my personal ‘stands up on bus’ admission:
I don’t understand iTunes. Furthermore – I’ll stand up again – I don’t get this iCloud business either. I get the concept but that’s where it ends. In fact, when it comes to the whole business of updating and syncing my iPhone, I think I should just remain standing. I ‘get’ iTunes with no difficulty when it comes to the business of actual business – buying stuff. That’s easy peasy and intuitive. But when it comes to managing my devices – syncing, storing, backing up, transferring purchases and so on, I’m, er, challenged to say the least. I had the wrong notion about it all. I thought my iTunes was web-based – that I could plug in to any computer anywhere, whistle up iTunes and backup and sync to my heart’s content. It’s a pain in the iArse that you’re tied to one machine. (If I’m wrong about this, somebody please tell me. In simple terms.)
What really scuppered me was when a second iPhone came into the house. Two iPhones, one PC is not a happy situation. Even logging in to my own account wouldn’t let me access my own stuff – it kept showing me the other half’s stuff. Consequently, I did wrong things (because this end of the business is really quite counter-intuitive), I lost stuff, and raised my blood pressure a goodly notch or two. I got on to customer support. I did what I was told but I didn’t understand it.
At one stage, I even travelled to the Apple shop in Belfast (a 7-hour round trip) to get my phone replaced. I was madly impressed with the people and the premises. But it kind of mesmerises you. They’re all young and happy and calm and nothing’s a problem. There’s sexy Apple stuff everywhere and you can play with it. They have cool glass stairs. It’s as if there’s happy vapour in the air. Like a ‘60s love-in. You just kind of float through the place. It’s all love and peace. You smile a lot and everyone smiles back. Nothing is a problem. You understand everything. How could you not? It’s all so perfect.
Until you get home. Until nothing works. Until you lose important stuff. Until you can’t get them on the phone. Until your ears start to bleed with the pitying and patronising tones when you do get them on the phone.
Until the lightbulb pings over your head and you realise it’s time to stand up on the bus and point at the naked guy, if you’ll forgive me mixing Irish advertising and Danish fairytales. I just don’t get the iTunes device management system and I really don’t believe I’m on my own. Furthermore, I resent being patronised by customer care people who speak to me in that irritatingly calm voice that you reserve for tantrumy, truculent children. They invariably irritate me further when they imply that it’s all really very simple – that it’s me who’s at fault here. They’re very pleasant and charming (mostly) but you can’t help feeling that they wish you’d just go away and die. They know how old you are and, in their book, you’re just a geriatric pest with no natural aptitude or ability and you’re pretty much past it. You’re just waiting for them to call you ‘dear’.
Well I’m nobody’s dear and I’m not any less intelligent than younger people who are wizards and who can do it all with their eyes shut. Because they’ve been surrounded by technology since they were born, they think their generation own it exclusively and that they have been endowed with an innate understanding of it all.
Well, guess what? That’s a load of tripe. I’ve been surrounded by technology for just as long as them. But I use it differently. I use it to augment and enhance my other skills because… I have other skills. I don’t rely on the technology exclusively. That’s the difference. And I’m possibly not as up-to-spec as younger models because I hadn’t time to sit and play with it all day.
Happily, I’m getting there. After a bad technology month, I found an Apple support person who seemed to ‘get’ me. In fairness, most of the Apple support people I spoke to were very nice and willing to help but they assumed a level of understanding and a base knowledge that I just don’t have. My latest person (hello Paul) didn’t make me feel stupid and was patient in an understanding way. He sorted me out – even rang me back at one point – and now I’m getting there. Sort of. Sometimes. It’s like anything technological – when someone’s talking you through it, it seems so easy; when you tackle it on your own, everything goes mental. You’re afraid to click anything in case you break the internet.
But, as I say, I’m getting there. Slowly. Sometimes. When my brain isn’t fogged with other things like work and deadlines. So thanks to my NBF Paul at Apple for that.
But here’s a few truths and suggestions for the Apple Corporation:
- Managing your device via iTunes is neither straightforward nor intuitive. It’s actually quite daunting and convoluted.
- You’d make more money if this aspect of things was simpler. When I was in the nirvana of the Apple Store in Belfast, I drooled over an iPad. I dropped heavy hints to the hubby. I’ve since withdrawn the drool and the hints. No way do I want one until I can manage it with ease, simplicity and confidence. The thoughts of owning one now with my fuzzy understanding of device management is enough to make me start rocking to and fro with the stress of it all.
- You really should put some ‘old’ people in your shops. Old dears like me who worry about breaking the internet.