If there’s one assumption in the help desk environment that’s as close to universally accepted as you can get, it’s that the younger a person is, the more adept they will be at picking up new technology. I’ve worked with plenty of users who seem to fit the stereotype for their age group. I’ve talked with young people who are fresh out of college, and all you have to do is tell them in IT lingo what they need to do and they’re on the fix like white on rice. I’ve had older people who’s hearing aids are whistling feedback into the phone not understand a single word I’ve told them and had them hang up in frustration. So yes, the stereotype exists because there are people that it applies to. But, be careful to assume that it’s one size fits all.
talked to members of generation Y that I suspect their mother still
cuts their meat for them at dinner. Asking them to tell me whether they
have a network cable plugged in to their laptop might as well be the
same as requesting they wipe their ass with a belt sander. I don’t know
if it’s a matter of inability, or that they’re so used to having their
hand held, their head patted, and told it’s ok that they have developed
learned helplessness in the area of self sufficiency. What I do know is
this; the assumption that they take to technology like a greyhound to a
rabbit isn’t 100% true.
the flip side, I’ve talked to more than one pensioner who probably
could have moonlighted with the Geek Squad. I could throw out terms
that would have confused the majority us users and they could keep right
up with me. More often than not, when I get a person who didn’t grow
up playing at least Oregon Trail on an Apple IIc, I have to use our
remote control tools to complete a call. Though, like I said, there
have been the surprising few who’ve made my day by being willing and
eager to do their own work. And you know what? I respect the hell out
of that. It’s easier to drop out of the race and let technology streak
by you than it is to keep up. Heck, I’ve been in the IT industry for
the better part of the last 14 years and even I’m not current in
everything. There’s so much to choose from. So, when I come away from a
call with someone who might be a vietnam vet that knows what they’re
doing with their computer, it makes me sit up and take notice.
favorite had to be the call I had just a month or two ago. I was
talking with a lively man about trying to my company’s software
downloaded and installed on his machine. While we were working on the
issue, we shot the shit a bit. It isn’t uncommon to, during the course
of a call, share some personal information, and this was no exception.
I learned that he was born in 1940, married when he was 18, still
walked 3 miles a day, and affectionately called his wife his bride even
all these years later. Even if he had been having trouble with the
technology, he was warm and engaging to talk to. However, he flew
through the steps where most people stumble, and impressed me with how
easily he caught on to what I was telling him. Though, I have to admit,
I think what I remember most vividly was his complaining about how
slowly his files were downloading. If my memory serves, he exclaimed,
“This thing is so slow! It’s taking longer than it took me to make
you have any idea how hard it is to not burst into howling fits of
laughter when you know your calls are recorded? I think I might have
bruised my funny bone with the effort to hold it in. I also had to
submit his comment to the list of “funniest things you’ve heard said on a
I had my druthers, I’d want all my calls to be from people like him.
Besides giving me an on the job, laughter related injury, that guy
cemented my belief that age isn’t a number. It truly is how you feel.
If that’s the case, then I’m going to do my level best to be 25 till
the day I lay down to take my dirt nap.