Follow TV Tropes


Technologically Blind Elders

Go To
Well at least he won't copy that floppy.

Barley: The other day I bought a DVD, but there were just so many buttons on the remote control that I had to get my daughter to come over and help.
Scallop: Yup, me too. I just leave my cellphone contract up to my daughter. I can't seem to remember anything new nowadays...
Both: That's old age for you!

Modern works are often set in modern times, especially 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.

A common 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 their own time and can't possibly know what all the new technology is, rather than choosing not to catch up because of any number of reasons the older character may have: the olden days were better; they see tech as more trouble than it's worth, unnecessary, or extraneous; or there's no point because it will be replaced by something else in a few years anyway. Contrast What Are Records?, the inverse, and Phoneaholic Teenager. Subtrope of Technophobia. Subtrope of Hopeless with Tech, which is not about any age group.

See also Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure.


    open/close all folders 

  • A series of commercials for Esurance has people, usually seniors, literally interpreting modern social media. For example, an old lady talks about how she's saving money by posting pictures to her wall (an actual wall) instead of mailing them to friends, and uses a CD tray as a coffee cup holder.
    "That's not how it works! That's not how any of this works!"
  • In another commercial from the 1990s, an old man mistakes a microwave oven for a television set and bangs on it with his cane, yelling, "How do you get the game on this thing?"
  • The Keebler Elves have their own Twitter account, which has its fair share of jokes about senior elf Ernie not quite "getting" the Internet.
  • Magazine ads for no-frills "simple" cellphones designed for the elderly tend to invoke this to suggest that even the most Technologically-Blind Elders can use them easily. One for the Jitterbug phone is written in the voice of an old woman trying to buy a cellphone with her grandson's help and being surprised that it has "A G-P-Something that's supposed to spot me from space!"
  • The "Mom" mascot of Momba college vending machines (placed in dorms to give students things they might have forgotten to bring from home) doesn't look that old, but there are a few "parents don't understand" jokes of this nature in the ad text like "Look, honey! My friend made me a 'website' on the 'internet'!"

    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: The most advanced piece of technology that Kusuri's grandmother Yaku can manage is a Tin-Can Telephone. During a Baby Morph Episode, Kusuri attempts to see if Yaku might handle a smartphone better with her younger mind. To Kusuri's rage, she treats it like a menko card and slaps it on the ground.
  • Den-noh Coil: Inverted with Mega-Baa, Yasako's grandmother and the Cool Old Lady who runs the local candy shop. She's well versed in the high tech glasses the kids wear, can hack the setting's version of the internet, and in general is one of the most tech-savvy characters around.
  • The 5th chapter of Gohan no Otomo opens with an old guy having trouble operating his laptop, despite his daughter's repeated instructions. Frustrated, he storms out of the house and meets a couple of fellow elderly men in the cafe who discuss about their own difficulties of using gadgets such as TV remote or cellphone, and how they usually let their children handle the tech. The guy eventually learns to use technology, however, and in chapter 9, he is shown to be using a smartphone with little trouble.
  • Granny Girl Hinata-chan: Played with in chapter 8. Hinata is a six year-old girl but, due to retaining Past-Life Memories, has the personality, mannerisms, and, importantly for this trope, tech-savvy of the eighty-eight year-old woman she ended her last life as. When her brother takes her into the city to see a movie, she has trouble with all the different high tech devices she encounters. She runs into a door that requires a keycard, thanks the motion sensor using escalator assuming there's an operator somewhere, freaks out when encountering a toilet with automated features as well as during a 3D movie. Her brother doesn't think anything unusual about any of this, being both used to Hinata's eccentricities and because he assumes, not incorrectly, that she's seeing all these things for the first time.
  • Used as a Running Gag in Gugure! Kokkuri-san, where Kokkuri's inability to use technology without blowing them up would inevitably cause everyone else to mock his age. Averted by Shigaraki and Tengu, who can use technology just fine despite being similarly immortal.
  • Sakura Quest: One old man acquired a tablet PC, but due to not knowing how to use it, ended up using it as a light. It abruptly loses power in the middle of the conversation about it, possibly because he forgot to check the batteries. Another old man is a downplayed example, since he uses his tablet as a timer for his instant noodles.
  • Nate's mom from Yo-kai Watch seems pretty young (probably under 35) but isn't up-to-date with the internet. In the dub she says "(...) No one understands kids these days with their Snapbooks and Facechats".

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Inverted by Calvin's dad, who is quite tech-savvy but frequently goes on long diatribes against the multiplication of technology only bringing more stress into everyone's lives. Ironically, he's a patent attorney.
    Hobbes: Your dad's going into the future kicking and screaming, isn't he?
  • Roger Fox of Foxtrot is described as still trying to catch up with the technology of The '70s, though in his case it could be this trope or his being just that stupid. In a comic strip that gleefully uses Comic-Book Time, it only gets worse:
    • In one strip, he buys tax return software that won't install on his computer:
      Jason: Dad, duh! You bought the Windows version!
      Roger: So?
      Jason: So we don't have Windows!
      Roger: (points to the wall) Are you nuts? There's a window right there!
      Jason: (face-palming) Would you like me to go nuts?
    • In another, he sees Jason sitting at the computer and starts waxing on about the Information Superhighway.
      Jason: Dad, the computer's not turned on.
      Roger: I thought you were in a tunnel or something.
    • In yet another, he takes his wife's instruction that "the computer needed backing up" by shoving it backwards on the desk, until it crashes to the floor.
    • With the spread of mobile phones, his incompetence now extends to mobile phones, such as spending thousands of dollars on a Pay To Win Allegedly Free Game (and still losing).
  • Garfield:
  • Connie and Walt of Zits tend to be pretty clueless, much to the perpetual embarrassment of their son Jeremy.
    Jeremy: I can't believe it doesn't have Bluetooth!
    Walt: (opens the flip phone slightly, peering inside looking for teeth) What color tooth does it have?
    • In another strip, Walt diagnosed a problem with Jeremy's computer as "a loose fan belt on your search engine".
    • In one strip, Connie claims that it's her parents' generation who really don't understand technology, which is Instantly Proven Wrong when Jeremy says "that's not what grandma said in her podcast".
  • An early Dilbert story arc had Dogbert running a school for technology imbeciles, one of whom is brought in by his young daughter who claimed he was bright until they got the VCR. She's proven right when he tries to cook a VHS tape in a microwave.

    Fan Works 
  • Ignited Spark: Gran Torino got a smartphone from Hana as a Christmas gift, but broke it because it was too noisy.
  • Jack O'Lantern: Sasuke is only in his thirties but he can't keep up with the world's rapidly changing technology. He doesn't know how to use smartphones or the internet well.
  • The Last Seidr: Inverted; Thor, Steve Rogers, and Harry Potter are all still fairly young (physically in Cap's case), yet none of them are overly familiar with tech used in the MCU. Harry only has a mild advantage over the other two in that he knows of technology from the early 1990s, but even then his knowledge is twenty years out of date.
  • In the The New Recruit series of one-shots, Steve Rogers has no idea what a video game is, and thus loses miserably when he and Matt Garretty play Halo.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint's dad is absolutely hopeless with computers, which becomes a problem when he has to e-mail an important file to his son's phone at the climax of the movie. He accidentally sends the rapping kitten video from earlier instead.
  • Crops up twice in Coco:
    • While trying to pass himself off as Frida Kahlo to the bridge guards, Héctor refers to the scanner as a "blinky-thingy".
    • Mamá Imelda is introduced bashing a worker's computer with her boot and calling it a "Devil Box".
  • 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.
  • Patriarch Rick Mitchell from The Mitchells vs. the Machines is very much hopeless with anything that is beyond a simple video camera. Simply subscribing to his daughter Katie's YouTube channel resulted in him hitting the computer in a hysteric panic and made him go to the Corner of Woe until he figured it out, and he later ended up sending her a friend request by mail with no other information asking if she wanted to be his friend. She doesn't miss the Unfortunate Implications of this.
    Rick: "Am I doing this right?! Should I update my software?!"
    Linda: "Just hit enter! Hit enter!"
    Rick: [screams] "I accidentally ordered 12 Swiffers on Amazon! What did I—"
  • Ralph from Ralph Breaks the Internet was created in the 1980s and has a harder time adjusting to the modern 2010s internet than the younger Vanellope (who is physically a child and was created in the late 1990s to early 2000s).
  • Pops up very briefly a few times in Up. Carl doesn't understand Russel's "GPM". During the credits, there is a picture of Russel trying to teach Carl how to use a computer, but Carl looks baffled while holding the mouse by the cord.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for Drama in Darkest Hour (2017). Winston Churchill, 66 years old by the time he became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1940, has a hard time understanding that fast-moving armoured vehicles that do not need to slow down for supporting infantry, and can refuel using commercial petrol instead of having to wait for special refuelers, are the new way of warfare. He apparently believes that Useful Notes/World War II will be fought almost exactly like World War I. He is wrong.
  • Kim Possible features a shot of a post Drakken wrote on Villainstagram. He posts about how he has difficulty uploading to the site. Drakken is only middle-aged at most but he's not savvy about stuff that's popular with teens and younger adults.
  • La Femme et le TGV: Elise is a widow, aged 70-ish. She wants to know how to contact Bruno, her pen pal who is a railway engineer. She calls customer service at the railway, and when the woman suggests that she look on the internet, Elise says "I've never sent an internet and I never will!"
  • In Snatched (2017), Emily's mother Linda doesn't understand the difference between a Facebook wall and a private message, resulting in a public online argument with Emily. It ends when Linda's capslock key gets stuck and she calls Emily for tech support.
  • In Violent Night: Santa, being over eleven hundred years old, only vaguely knows how to use a gun and gets in trouble when he doesn't realize the assault rifle he stole still has the safety on. In the climax, he specifically lets someone else use a mercenary's stolen rifle as a result.

  • Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: In Tastes Like Chicken (written in 2017 and set 20 Minutes into the Future), when Alvina says she's on social media, Dan tries to imagine a "correct cool and modern" phrase and asks if she's on MySpace.
  • 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". However, Frank is middle-aged, not elderly.
  • Discworld has several Magitek versions:
    • None of the senior wizards really understand what Hex (the High Energy Magic Building's ant-powered computer) even is. To be fair, the younger wizards don't entirely understand it either, but at least they have theories as to why not.
    • Commander Vimes has absolutely no patience with the imp-powered gadgets his wife keeps buying him, and especially with the successive generations of personal organisers, which might be useful if he could be bothered to figure out the correct things to ask them to do. He seems to get on better with the Mark 5 ("the Gooseberry") in Thud!, possibly because it's finally user-friendly enough that he can just say things to it.
    • Granny Weatherwax in Equal Rites says she can't use a younger witch's crystal ball. This wouldn't normally count as even magical technology, except that she specifically refers to it as "that damn silicon stuff".
  • Gangsta Granny: Neither Granny nor the Queen know what Googling is.
  • 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. It's possible that he's playing this up deliberately. Peter has mentioned several times if he is motivated Nightingale can become quite proficient with new technology quite quickly. It's just that most of the time, unless it's work-related (working an airwave digital radio) or directly related to his personal interests (following the rugby on Peter's TV in the "tech cave"), he simply feels no need to.
  • Joel Suzuki: In Ballad of the Bluerock, Joel tries to call his grandpa, but they have trouble hearing each other because his grandpa keeps holding the cell phone the wrong way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Castle: Castle tells Alexis that he's going to set a new content filter on their computer to limit her exposure to tabloid information. An amused Alexis reminds him that he had to ask for her help to set up the content filter level they already have.
  • Celebrity Name Game: Bill Engvall drew a blank when asked to communicate the word "Snapchat" to a contestant; after the round, host Craig Ferguson had to explain that it was something "the kids" used.
  • At the beginning of one episode of CSI, an old lady smashed her car into the side of a coffee shop, killing both her and a skeezy health insurance agent that had ripped her off. The fingerprints lifted off the car mounted GPS unit didn't match those of the lady. They eventually came to the conclusion that she'd asked her grandson to set the destination for her, so she could find the cafe the agent frequented, and kill him.
  • Whang-chul from Extracurricular starts the series with a flip phone—a cracked one, no less. Ji-soo, the protagonist, later makes him get a more modern phone and then an iPad, for the latter he includes an entire instructional manual.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light, Hirotaro starts off playing Final Fantasy XIV with no idea how to do anything. In time, however, he becomes a highly-skilled Bard.
  • Henry of Forever is this in spades, although since he still looks 34, to most people he just comes across as eccentric.
  • Averted in an episode of The Good Wife where a Chumhum (Bland-Name Product for Google) lawyer is showing a cartoonish video showing how the search engine's algorithm works. The judge, an elderly man with a hearing aid, is looking at the screen with an expression that's meant to convey "I'm totally confused." Finally, he interrupts the video and asks a very technical question. The lawyer, dumbfounded, confirms. The judge then tells the lawyer to stop the video. There's no jury in this trial, and he's well-versed on the subject matter. His confused look was simply because of the cartoonish way it was all being presented. No one said a judge couldn't have a computer background.
  • Invoked in the Postscript Season of Murphy Brown, set 20 years after the original series finale: the title character saw no use in smartphones or social media, and used a Motorola flip phone from the early-2000's ("...perfectly good for, you know, making actual calls to people"). That is, until Brown came out of retirement to join a cable news channel, and the network's social media intern pushed Brown onto an iPhone so she could use Twitter (but not before he gazed in awe at the "vintage" cellphone, and tried to use Siri to no avail). Averted, however, when Brown gets the hang of it a little too well, and almost immediately gets into a Flame War with a certain president.
  • My Name Is Earl: Although not actually an elder (he's only 35), a Running Gag is that Earl Hickey is not very adept with technology. He thinks the fish screensaver on a computer is really an aquarium twice, and gets very confused when he jiggles the mouse and the screensaver goes away. He is also dumbfounded that there are books on tape (thinking they're printed on literal adhesive tape), books on CD, and even MP3-format audiobooks for an iPod. (He also doesn't know what that is.) May be justified on the grounds that Earl is impoverished as are most Camdenites, and poor people often cannot afford to purchase new technology as it comes out.
  • 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 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.
  • Subverted in the Mr. Robot episode "eps3.4_runtime-error.r00". Elliot sees a sixtyish woman having eating at her desk and tries to con his way onto her terminal with a made-up security issue. She's too technologically savvy to fall for it, although she does direct him to another (younger) worker.
  • It's a Running Gag in NCIS that Gibbs doesn't know what the digital things are and how they work and believes everything can be fixed by "rebooting" it. It depends on the episode whether it's for real or just a case of Obfuscating Stupidity. Worth mentioning that Gibbs still uses a old flip phone.
    Gibbs: McGee, less talk, more of the computer chip doo-da.
    McGee: Making with the doo-da, boss...
  • In Not the Nine O'Clock News, Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Griff Jones feature in a skit in a hi-fi store, where an older man is mocked by the younger store assistants when he asks for a "gramophone".
  • In an Inside Amy Schumer sketch titled "Mom Computer Therapy" has the main character (portrayed by the 30 something year old Amy Schumer) trying to teach her mother (60 something year old Deborah Rush) how to use a new model of computer with a therapist to mediate, only to get more and more frustrated as her mother refuses to pay attention or listen to her, then the therapist (the late-middle aged Kathy Najimy) join in where Amy ends up foaming at the mouth as the therapist and the mother mess around with an intercom (that the therapist had plenty of time to use).
    Where is my AOL?
  • In Raven's Home, Chelsea doesn't understand how dating sites work. Her young son Levi has to do everything for her. Chelsea herself is under 50, but she's not into the technology.
  • Inverted in The Strange Calls with Gregor, who in all appearances seems to be a white-haired old man, though he claims to be 47 is as obsessed with twitter as a stereotypical teenager and is constantly posting, much to the annoyance of everyone else.
  • Truth Seekers: Richard starts off as this: he doesn't realize he can access the internet on his phone, and embarrasses himself attempting to record a video response to Helen's Youtube channel.
  • A frequent joke on What We Do in the Shadows (2019) is that vampires more than a century old often struggle with modern technology, such as getting an email from "Mailer-Daemon" and thinking it's literally a demon, or a technology becoming obsolete in the time it took them to master it, such as sending each other video messages...on cassette, and by physical mail.
  • The X-Files reboot uses this as a throwaway gag to emphasize that the characters are older and less in touch with the subject matter than they used to be. The series proper incorporated a lot of new tech into the show, including Mulder and Scully regularly using cell phones to communicate before that was common. In the reboot, Mulder has upgraded to a smart phone, but can't figure out how to take picture and video, and must now use glasses to read anything on it. Scully also admonishes his now constant access to the internet, as it fuels his conspiracy theories.

  • 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.

  • The Tom Smith song "Tech Support For Dad" is a lament about how the singer's tech-illiterate father keeps calling on him to solve all his computer problems. In one recording, the role of the dad was played by Tom Smith's actual father.
  • An underlying theme in Joe Walsh's 2012 solo album Analog Man, particularly the title track:
    Welcome to cyberspace, I'm lost in the fog
    Everything's digital I'm still analog
    When something goes wrong
    I don't have a clue
    Some ten year old smart ass has to show me what to do
  • As Eminem has aged, he's made tech illiteracy part of his persona. On "So Far..." he sings about how he doesn't know what it means to use Facebook and that he can't figure out how to use YouTube to find anything. Around the late 2010s, he had a running joke on his Instagram where he couldn't figure out how to take a selfie, instead sharing atrocious pictures where only portions of his face are visible. (Machine Gun Kelly dragged him for it in his Eminem Diss Track "RAP DEVIL".) He has softened this persona a little following the Kamikaze era, which revealed he spends a lot of time in "YouTube rabbit holes", though this is just another stereotype of old people using the internet.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Margaret Cho once talked about how her elderly Korean mother complained about trying to buy an electric fan online:
    Margaret: (imitating her mother's Korean accent) "I go to Amazon, but they had sooooo many options! I just want normal fan! So I type in[audience erupts with laughter]...THEY DID NOT SELL FANS!!"

    Video Games 
  • Cranky Villagers in Animal Crossing (2001) will sometimes talk about email as if we were an alien concept.
  • In Hundred Days, Carlo is a middle-aged journalist who prefers conducting interviews with pen and paper as opposed to recording them because he doesn't trust technology. Emma offers to teach him how to save recordings in the cloud, but he turns it down because he thinks he'll get wet in the rain.
  • Goodtime Valley in Hypnospace Outlaw. The zone for older Hypnospace users, its pages are rife with bugs, grammatical errors, poorly applied templates, occasional viruses, and tackiness above and beyond the GeoCities-influenced aesthetic of Hypnospace in general. Averted by one user, Connie Turner, an older computer security professional whose site is clean and well-presented, and who breaks into the website of hacker group M1nx when they fail to hide their tracks properly.
  • A recurring gag in the Like a Dragon series is that protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, who's in his 40s and 50s for most of the series, generally has a poor grasp on technology. One Substory in Yakuza 5 has him asked to fix a computer and his options include either hitting it or yelling at it. The sixth game even shows that he types via finger pecking. He does at least update to using a Smartphone for the later games (primarily for the sake of Product Placement) and one substory in 6 has him developing a friendship with a Siri parody.
  • Agent 1 and Agent 2 in Splatoon mention that their grandfather, Cap'n Cuttlefish, doesn't own a phone. If they want to contact him, they need to telegraph him. He's gotten better by Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion, as he now has a cell phone and is able to use chat rooms, but he still grapples with the finer points, like turning off the caps lock and knowing how to sign out.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger has an NPC in the third game who mentions "Empty Trees" (MP3's) as part of a "kids these days" speech.
  • Undertale: If Toriel, a kindly middle-aged goat lady, lives, she can learn how to text on her phone. She texts exactly like you'd expect, writing long, drawn-out messages, texting you back to correct previous spelling mistakes, and even getting into an impersonation-war with Sans.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Dream Daddy, the Dadsona, a middle-aged man, struggles with understanding modern technological terms such as being "left on read", and also asks his teenage daughter Amanda for help in setting up his Dadbook account.
  • Sachi Enoki of Kindred Spirits on the Roof was 17-18 at the time of her death, but since she died 80 years before the start of the story, she's technically almost 100 years old. She's naturally unfamiliar with most of the advances in technology in the decades since her passing, especially, "Pee Cees" as she puts it.
  • In Murder by Numbers (2020) Detective Cross has trouble working new (mid 90s) technology, with a sole exception being a GPS.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Full Frontal Nerdity: In one comic Nelson complains about spending his Christmas helping relatives with tech problems. For instance, his father somehow changed his computer's language settings to Swedish.
  • 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.
  • In Kevin & Kell, we're not told exactly how old Sheldon Dome the turtle is, but he began to distrust modern technology when his wife ran off with an abacus salesman.

    Web Original 
  • The snarky little webpage, "Let me Google that for you!" is intended as a way to get people (such as parents, bosses, and the like) to stop asking you how to use The Google.

    Web Videos 
  • In 3 Full Months of Vlogging COMPLETE! (90 Days in a Row!) :D by Matt Santoro, Matt sees an elderly couple, and decides to stop the vlog in case they don't know what he's doing.
  • There's a video out there of an old man using his brand-new iPad as a cutting board.

    Western Animation 
  • 50/50 Heroes: When Mo is turned into a giant, nobody who doesn't already know his and Sam's secret notices because they're too focused on their cellphones. The only exception is Ms. Rose, an elderly lady described by Larry as being "unlikely to own a cellphone" but fortunately her eyesight wasn't good enough to keep her from mistaking Mo for a tree.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Web", not only Nicole, but the entire office staff of the Rainbow Factory have no idea how to work their computers. Darwin and Gumball conclude that all old people, no matter how powerful, suffer from the same issues.
  • In Arthur, Mr. Ratburn turns out to be less than confident when it comes to the Internet. However, the trope is quickly defied when the Brain shows him how to use it and he quickly becomes addicted (although not seriously) to web forums. An earlier installment depicts him as being clueless on the use of a BoysenBerry (BlackBerry Bland-Name Product) that he bought to replace his desktop computer, but eventually figuring out how to use it.
  • Carmen Sandiego: V.I.L.E.'s tech expert, The Troll, set up an app that would allow them to easily hack into a celebrity chef's accounts by scanning his retina. Unfortunately, the agents who wind up being responsible for carrying out the plan are the Cleaners. They struggle to even open the phone and don't seem to know what an app icon even is, much less use the app itself.
  • The Deep (2015): As wise as he is, Nereus is completely lost when it comes to operating modern technology.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • In "Boyz Crazy", Dipper and his Great-Uncle Stan think that Robbie is brainwashing Wendy with his music, so they take his CD and try to listen to it slowed down. Stan mistakes it for a vinyl record, and puts it into a record player.
      Stan: We're doing something wrong here, but I can't put my finger on it...
    • In "Little Dipper" Gideon abducts a miniaturized Dipper and Mabel, then calls Stan for ransom. Stan doesn't believe him.
      Gideon: You don't believe me? I will text you a photo!
      Stan: "Text me a photo"? Now you're not even speaking English. [hangs up]
    • Stan's twin brother Ford also has some trouble with modern technology (despite being a Mad Scientist with access to stuff years ahead of most people), although he at least has the excuse of spending thirty years in Another Dimension and missing out on a lot of advancements. He thinks floppy disks are still cutting edge, and scoffs at the idea of a "personal computer".
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Uncle thinks that Jade's laptop is a magic waffle iron and fails miserably when trying to sell his antiques online, destroying the laptop when he thinks it's been possessed by dark magic (due to his inabiliity to figure out how to use it.) One episode shows he doesn't understand how a fax machine works and yet he can somehow transfer a chi spell through a cellphone, which Jackie lampshades.
  • King of the Hill: In "Pour Some Sugar On Kahn", Minh's father, General Gum, tries to make Kahn put music on his wristwatch ("DRAG AND DROP!!!"), only stopping when Kahn reminds him he has an ordinary analog watch.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Hus-keys," Molly coaches her elderly Aunt Merna through setting up a video chat. Merna keeps accidentally turning the camera off or hanging up entirely.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): "Something's a Ms." begins with the Mayor attempting to play a CD on a record player.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "The Family Tree", Marvin Finster, Chas' father, doesn't know how to work a TV remote and also asks his son why his TV doesn't have an antenna. Chas has to explain to him how Cable TV works.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Rome-Old and Juli-Eh", Abe Simpson is shown to be very inept with modern kitchen appliances, to the point of nearly starting a fire.
  • Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) is this trope, as he's wise and a master of ninjutsu, but has no idea how to work Donatello's custom built cell phones or how to get the Battle Shell started. Mildly justified in that, in this continuity, he's an Uplifted Animal who simply has no experience with the technology his sons use.

    Real Life 
  • Averted with Arthur C. Clarke. Although best known for his science-fiction, Clarke actually studied at university to become an electrical engineer. So not only are computers and related technology portrayed realistically in his stories, he was a tech-nerd up until the day he died. Ray Bradbury tells a story of running across him on a street in New York City looking at the display in an electronics store window of the latest PCs (considering the time of the story, they were probably the IBM PC, Mac and Amiga). Bradbury notes that Clarke ended up buying one of each and had to lug them home through the streets of New York. When Clarke died at the age of 90 in 2008 his estate posted a weblog he recorded which had some final words for his fans.
  • It wasn't until the late 2010s, more than a decade after the rise of high-speed internet and smartphones, that the bottom finally fell out on America Online's dial-up internet service, which had over two million subscribers as late as 2015. This trope is half the reason why, as many older users who don't need the internet for more than checking the mail and the news stuck with the cheaper service they already had instead of splurging on broadband. (The other half is the slow spread of high-speed internet in rural America, rendering it less cost-competitive versus dial-up if it's available at all, though even here, 4G smartphones eventually offered a faster, more convenient option.)
  • Inverted with e-readers, whose adoption was, surprisingly, driven primarily by older readers. After all, many e-readers, smartphones, and tablets are backlit, and instead of having to buy a special large print edition, one could simply change the font size with the press of a button, both of which make reading easier for people with poor vision. E-readers are also a lot smaller than even a single book, let alone a shelf full of them, and thus more convenient for older people to own and carry around. Younger readers, on the other hand, have remained committed to print books, such that it is among the few fields of entertainment that has managed to successfully resist the transition to digital, especially in children's and young adult literature. It helps that parents who want to discourage youngsters from using their devices too much often buy them print books instead.
  • This is why the iPad and other tablets caught on earlier among older users while younger users scoffed at them, as tablets are much simpler to operate than PCs. It also helps that they're general-purpose devices that also have apps for e-books, mentioned above.
  • In 2018 it made international news when 68-year-old Japanese minister Yoshitaka Sakurada, who was at the time the deputy chief of the government's cybersecurity strategy office, admitted he had never used a computer in his life and appeared confused by the concept of a USB drive when pressed by reporters.
  • Many Japanese businesses still use old versions of software and hardware (including fax machines) due to many older workers being too set in their ways to upgrade to new technology.
  • This trope is Older Than Radio. The invention of the electromagnetic telegraph, and thus the birth of modern telecommunications, in the mid 19th century brought about a massive cultural shakeup. This was the first time in human history a message could be conveyed in real time beyond direct line of sight.
    • The book The Victorian Internet (which is sadly not a genre mashup of Steampunk and Cyberpunk) relates a number of anecdotes of folks utterly confused about how the newfangled technology functioned. Such as:
      • A mother at home who wanted to send some soup to her son serving on the front lines via telegraph.
      • Someone explaining to their child that the telegrams flowed through the wire like a liquid. Though see The Hydraulic Analogy on that other wiki.
      • A woman insisting she rewrite the note she wanted relayed via telegraph because she didn't want the recipient to suffer her poor handwriting.
    • According to biographer William Manchester, Winston Churchill was accustomed to giving speeches in Parliament, through which he developed the habit of swiveling his head from side to side while orating; when he delivered his first live radio address during World War II, an employee of the BBC had to stand behind him and hold onto both ears to force him to speak directly into the microphone.


Video Example(s):


Rainbow Factory Workers

Seeing their mother's coworkers being completely unable to use technology makes Gumball and Darwin realize they're not the type of people they feel good about trusting their futures to.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TechnologicallyBlindElders

Media sources: