Left Behind By Technology
A character, usually a senior, does not understand modern technology


(permanent link) added: 2013-01-18 19:53:15 sponsor: GrigorII (last reply: 2014-06-17 21:18:12)

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We all know that Technology Marches On at very high rates. In the last few decades, humanity has advanced more than it had done in centuries, and the speed of those advances does not seem to be slowing. Computers, cell phones, dvd, mp3 players, plasma tv, gps, internet... it seems hard to believe that, not many years ago, those things did not exist (or were not available in their current form).

And for some characters, in most cases adults or seniors, things are still that way: they never got used to the technological advances, and still use the machines of the past, or still have the customs associated with them.

There are many possible reasons for this. The character may be a Disco Dan, who chooses to live in a world of nostalgia. He may be a Grumpy Old Man, whose first impulse is to reject anything that is a novelty. Perhaps he's too Married to the Job that he never got the time to know about the new things going on. Perhaps he's poor, or illiterate. Or perhaps he simply lost the interest in his late years, and only tries to use the modern machines when it's actually needed.

A common twist for the cases who do not make a deliberate choice to avoid the modern technology is an episode where they try to get up to date and understand things. They begin with some mistakes (a common one is to confuse a computer virus with a biological virus), and then proudly announce that they did something that is trivial stuff for other. As in "Hey, look! I have just sent an e-mail, and found a web page about my favourite TV show!".

Of course, there is Truth in Television here, as most people living or working with grown up people can confirm. It is a known thing that the ability to learn new things decreases with the age, kids can learn new things at a higher speed than adults. It does not mean that adults can't learn new things, only that it's harder for them. The ease to master at least the basic stuff is also truth in television, as the graphical user interface of computers, cell phones and other machines is specifically designed to be possible to understand without needing to know the underlying technical details (for example, a simple command in the remote control adjusts the brightness; you don't have to know how do the internal components of the TV change the image, only that you can control the change).

Compare with Disco Dan. The difference is that a Disco Dan is stuck in the past in tastes of popular culture (and usually by a willing choice), this trope is about everyday appliances. Both may intersect, however. Compare, for example, getting stuck in listening to The Beatles and ignore everything that came after, and getting stuck in hearing music from vinyls.

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    Comic Books 
  • Roger Fox of Foxtrot is, according to the author "still trying to catch up with the technology of the seventies", and it gets worse every year given that Comic Book Time is in effect. He combines it with Walking Techbane by not understanding the terms or instructions: thinking "back up hard drive" means "push computer backwards" until it falls off the desk or that an antivirus program can tell whether he has a cold or the flu.
  • One Archie Comics strip had Archie's dad struggling with his computer. Archie asked if he needed help surfing the web or checking e-mail, but dear old Dad hadn't even managed to turn the thing on yet.

    Live action TV 
  • Graduados
    • Elías and Dana soon learnt how to chat and buy things online, and depended on their neighbour Marito for tech support. Marito became the boyfriend of their daughter Gaby, which caused many problems the times that Gaby was in bad relations with him, as Elías and Dana were suddenly left with no support when things took too much time to load, or the connection to internet was suddenly lost.
    • Andy, Dany and Vero may be counted too, they don't have Facebook or even e-mail. In their case, it's more a deliberate choice, as being stuck in the 1980s and refusing to get mixed with "The System" is their guiding principle of life.
  • Sos Mi Vida. When the poor Esperanza Muñoz began to work at the Quesada Group, she received a cell phone so that her boss could call her from anywhere. She was the first one in the slum to have one of those machines... hey, what's that noise? Oh, the cell phone!
  • Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He never could get used to computers and still preferred information in hard copy - i.e. his books.
  • Gibbs on NCIS. The crowning moment has to be when his computer crashed and instead of going to the task manager or rebooting like any reasonable person, he grabbed a baseball bat out from under desk and hit the monitor with it. On the other hand, his not getting tech came in handy when the Pentagon was being hacked. McGee and Abby tried to counter the hack, but Gibbs just drew his gun and filled the server with lead.

    Western Animation 
  • This is a recurring joke on The Simpsons.
    • More than being stuck a pair of decades in the past, Montgomery Burns is stuck in the 1930s. Don't ask about 3D movies: he may be surprised that modern films have color, and sound!
    • It also happens (but not so extreme) with Abe Simpsons, and the other folks at the retirement house.

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