Modern works are set in modern times, often, and especially so when the creators want to appeal to a young, hip audience. As a means of definitively proving that they themselves are securely young and hip, the creators may highlight how a character, perhaps of their own age or older, is not in any way.
The greatest way to do this is to have the cool young people using some technology invented since Christmas and the ever-wanting-to-seem-cool older person wanting to get involved but having absolutely no clue what on Earth their gadgets are. Often Played for Laughs
when it's the parent who pretends to know what it is before hastily leaving, or trying to punish the kids by confusedly confiscating their... gizmo. May trigger a "back in my day" story.
Compare Fish Out of Temporal Water
, when someone is displaced from his own time and so can't possibly know what all the new technology is, rather than that he didn't bother catching up because of any number of reasons the older character may have: The olden days were better, or there's no point because the tech isn't necessary and will be replaced by something else in a few days, anyway. Contrast What Are Records?
, the inverse.
See also Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure
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- One Marvel Comics mini-series about Dracula (not in continuity with the other Marvel Dracula comics) has a good guy mention that this is one of Dracula's weaknesses. He's unable to comprehend modern technology or social changes, and thus can be blindsided by them.
- Discussed by Greg in Diary of a Wimpy Kid where his dad, Frank, is against Greg's love for video games and tries to dismantle his video game system. Greg says the reason his dad had to give up is because video game consoles are designed to be "parent-proof".
- DCI Nightingale from the Rivers of London books is a sterling example. A century old (looking younger due to Merlin Sickness), he's utterly at sea with the new computerized systems the police use, and relies entirely on Grant to get anything electronic done.
- Downplayed in the first episode of Life. Detective Charlie Crews has been in solitary confinement for 12 years, convicted of a murder he didn't commit. After he his conviction is overturned he gets his old job back and his former uniformed cop partner decides to take a picture of Charlie to commemorate the occasion. The partner pulls out his cell phone to take the picture and Charlie is confused; he's familiar with cell phones, but he doesn't know about the ubiquity of cell phone cameras.
- It's a Running Gag in NCIS that Gibbs doesn't know what the digital things are and how they work. It depends on the episode whether it's for real or just a case of Obfuscating Stupidity.
- The Breaker: New Waves is told about an app that he could use to find Shioon and Jini, so he has to ask a mook what an "app" is.
- In Ginpu Technologies Saffron claims that age can't possibly be the reason why so many of the people she deals with in IT are so helpless around technology.
- Gravity Falls:
- As the narrator of Eight Crazy Nights explains, Whitey is so far behind the times he thinks Viagra is a waterfall. He doesn't know what's going on when Davey flips him the bird and — not being up to date on modern technology — thinks Benjamin's Game Boy is an Etch-a-Sketch.
- In Arthur, Mr. Ratburn turns out to be less than confident when it comes to the Internet. However, the trope is quickly subverted when the Brain shows him how to use it and he quickly becomes addicted (although not seriously) to web forums.