You Can Do It. Yes, You Can!

By Sonny Fox

Several years ago at a family gathering in Northern California I overheard a conversation between my sons.  My son who lives in that area spoke to his brother and said, “Mom really seems to be improving on the computer.”  Without pausing for a breath my other son said, “You don’t get the phone calls.”  I admit, and own up to the reality, that I am not a techie and will never achieve that designation.  And that’s OK!

I don’t need to know how to perform all sorts of feats on the computer. Those of us who are seniors face the fact that we were born before the techie gene evolved in human DNA.  Today, children leave the womb and shortly thereafter have a working knowledge of how to operate the machine that is capable of causing total frustration to anyone born before World War II.

This blog, and our website  (, is targeted for seniors.  We can meet here, join together and commiserate that the majority of us are in the same boat when it comes to technology.  And we can learn how to function on the computer.


My problem is when I run into a snag online I start pressing keys and making the situation even worse.  I can be patient, calm, and extremely tolerant in other situations, but the computer tests my internal strength and fortitude. How do I solve the problem?  How do I get out of the mess?

Well, I have found three options:  First, if it’s an internet issue, I can call AT&T.  I pay a few dollars each month for the service. A computer generated voice will ask for verifications.  Then that voice will tell me I would be better off going online, where I can quickly get information to solve the problem.  Well, it’s when I hear those words that I become testy, i.e. livid, and have been known to scream into the phone (still no human contact) that if I could get onto the internet to learn how to fix my computer I wouldn’t have made the call in the first place. This is followed by one last scream pleading, “I need a person!!” Eventually I am found worthy of speaking with a technician.  I know the drill: disconnect everything and voila – all problems should be solved.  When I insist that I have pulled the plugs on the modem and the computer (and I have), the technician will feel challenged to rise to the occasion. Eventually I am switched to another technician who, if he fails to solve the problem, blames issues in my neighborhood of which “AT&T is aware.”

My second option is to call my son—the one who gets the phone calls.  Wisely, early in my beginner days, my son suggested that we install Team Viewer on my computer.  Team Viewer allows him to access my computer remotely from his computer. With my permission (by clicking an icon on my computer screen that opens a “portal” to my computer) he is able to operate my computer as if he were sitting next to me. Then, he examines the situation, resolves my problems 99% of the time, and I am able to watch him do it.  I have learned to preface my request for help by saying, “This should just take you a minute.”

The third option is to hire someone to fix the problem.  Hiring someone is for two reasons:  to fix something on the computer or to show you how to do certain tasks. If it is a repair issue, be wary of someone who wants to take your computer home. That’s generally not the way to go.  Prior to hiring someone get recommendations from friends who have used the person.  Have a couple of names on hand. When the man/woman is working you should listen to what is said, take notes, and ask to be shown how to accomplish what you want to learn.

The important thing is that we can improve our skills on the computer.  If you want to learn a specific skill, such as creating a file for your book club or putting a contact list together for group emails, you can try Google.  Ask Google how to create a file or a mailing group.  Or, if you are fortunate enough to find a student who will walk you patiently through the learning process, hire that student, feed and clothe him or her if necessary, and you will be on the road to conquering your computer.

Whenever I am shown how to do a specific task on the computer, out come my pen and paper, and notes are taken.  I keep all those papers in a file, to which I return whenever necessary. They come in handy.


October has been designated “National Computer Learning Month.” Who would have ever guessed that this subject would achieve national recognition?  Learning is important, no matter what our age. There’s that old saying, “What you don’t use you lose.”  You can learn if you try. Hang in there.  You can do it. Yes, you can!

We’d love to hear about your computer experiences – please post your comments or questions here.  Perhaps other readers can respond and educate us all. Or, send your thoughts to me in an email, and I will be happy to respond!


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