I was at a photography shop yesterday, uploading my photos in order to make prints of them. A woman was sitting at the at the kiosk next to me, being helped by a young man who worked at the store. She was trying to make 5×7 inch prints of her photos, and it wasn’t going well. The woman (who looked only slightly older than me) kept apologizing for her ignorance of the system, and for needing the employee to help her. “Sorry I’m taking up so much of your time! But this is hard for someone my age,” she said, “it was so much easier when all we had to do was bring in our photo card and insert it into the computer.”
The more I listened to their conversation, the more I was struck by the woman’s attitude. Why did she keep apologizing? Because she was right: it was so much easier to print our photos a few years ago. We didn’t have to worry about uploads and file compatibility, retaining original resolution or any of the other stuff she was struggling to understand. We just inserted our photo card into the kiosk, the pictures popped up on the screen, and we selected the number and size was wanted of each. It was quick and easy.
But in these past few years, printing photos has become a real struggle. I can’t get my photos to upload properly to the online sites anymore (apparently, they’re not compatible), so I go to the shop and sync my phone with their device and upload them there. Even that takes a very long time unless I use their Wi-Fi, which my phone informs me isn’t secure, and every once in a while the upload simply stops for reasons no one can explain. These days, it takes real determination and lots of patience to make a print of a photo.
I believe that woman had no need to apologize, and yet I understood why she did. If you’re over fifty and struggling with any type of technology, often the immediate assumption is that you’re not quite smart enough to, say, actually print a photo. The young man who was helping her was patient and kind, but not once did he agree with her that the new system is harder than the old. Nor did he contradict her when she kept repeating that the problem was her age. But the truth is, if a system has become complicated and doesn’t work properly, the problem might not be the age of the person trying to use it. As radical as it sounds, the problem just could be that the system is flawed.
I know I’m one of the few people who still likes to print my photos, so I soldier on. I’ve learned the difference between a “jpeg” and a “HEIC” photo file, and how to convert one to the other. I schlepp to the photo shop to use their kiosk because if I try to use the shop’s website, it takes approximately five minutes for each photo to upload. And when I’m really stymied, I’ll ask for help from the staff. But no matter how difficult the process becomes, I have vowed that I will NOT utter the words, “I’m sorry, but I’m just too old to understand……..”