Senior Stories Technology

10 Signs You’re a “Dinosaur” in a High-Tech World

Dinosaur Learning to Use Computer

“From a distant era” is a phrase used to describe a dinosaur. You may be one; if these signs fit you to a T!

Senior Employment: Dinosaur for Hire

1. You have no clue what “hashtag” means or how to use it

You see the word everywhere and ask a friend about it. After the initial shock and disbelief of your naiveté, the pal explains that hashtag is a type of label or tag used on social media sites Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s used to mark something belonging to a specific category. Searching for that hashtag (a number sign or pound sign precedes it), will find each message pertaining to that theme. Because of the widespread use, the hashtag was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014. If you have no online social media presence and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram aren’t in your vocabulary; this could be why you’re clueless.

2. You have never used an “emoticon” in your life

Teenagers tell you emoticons and emojis are the only way to communicate in email and texting. Your blank stare reveals the truth, you have no idea what they are talking about. They patiently explain that emoticons are icons or pictographs, such as the smiley face or wink. It’s a way of showing emotion by using letters or symbols to express how you’re feeling in email and text messages. A Yahoo Messenger survey found that 82% used emoticons in their conversations. And 57% said they would rather tell a “crush” their true feelings with emoticons rather than words. Emojis are the next generation, they’re not just smiley faces, but can be a music symbol, a ring, a flag etc. Smiley faces, pictographs, really? Can’t words just be enough? If you’re not into texting or emailing that often, this is one less thing to master.

3. You remember when computer memory was a whopping 64K and storage was a tape recorder or cartridge

In the days of computer infancy, circa early 1980’s, those features seemed pretty cool. Operating systems were MS-Dos based (yes, this was before Windows) and sometimes quirky. Remember the Commodore 64, the 8-bit computer introduced in 1982, which became the most popular personal computer of the 1980’s? Or my personal favorite, the rare and not supported for long, Timex-Sinclair 2068 color computer? There were cartridge slots for games and utility programs and many used tape recorders for storage.


In those early years, disk drives were not affordable for home users. Still, program developers created over 10,000 software titles for the Commodore 64. Even with limited speed and memory, it was possible to play games, create a spreadsheet and do word processing before Windows came along. Perhaps this sounds “lame and “quaint” in today’s world of multi-featured 64-bit computers with tons of memory now commonplace. The 5 ¼ and 3 ½ floppy disk drives have been replaced by flash drives and cloud storage. (Whatever that is?)

4. You own either an electronic typewriter or a classic manual and still use it

Before the computer was introduced, the typewriter was the avenue for printed communication. There were Smith-Corona, Remington, Olivetti, Royal and Swintec to name just a few. Early manual models were large, clunky and changing the ribbon spool was an adventure. Later electric/electronic models offered easier-to-install ribbon cartridges, 3 line text display and internal memory for storing a few pages of text. Sound familiar? There’s still an intangible, difficult-to-describe feeling when you get out the machine and address some envelopes or fill out an application form. One specific memory comes to mind, remember those smudges on your fingers from carbon paper?

5. Your televisions are analog and require a cable box or digital converter

Your neighbors and friends can’t resist commenting on your “retro” style TV sets. The bemused way they pronounce “retro” speaks volumes. It’s obvious they’ve categorized you in the “blast from the past “ age group. It’s true the 19 and 24 inch small sets pale in size with today’s 40 and 55-inch models. And yes, the old sets are not digital, but with converter technology, you can still watch programs of all kinds. Oh, you’ve heard of flat screen TV’s, HDTV, surround sound and other fancy features. But why spend money on new, when what you have works fine?

6. You still watch movies with a VCR

And why not? Many old classics and made-for-TV movies are not available on DVD. The picture and sound quality may not be top-notch, but maybe we’ve grown accustomed to having only the latest and best and aren’t willing to settle for anything less than the top-of-the-line? Why throw away perfectly good entertainment just because it’s old or inconvenient to rewind after viewing? And think of the budget, many VHS movies are cheap – $1-5 at online sites. dollar stores and thrift shops.

7. You use a “dumb phone” instead of a smartphone

dinosaur wants selfieYounger co-workers scoff at your flip phone that does not have WiFi, or internet access and doesn’t support downloadable apps. It does, however, have a calendar and some old, but still decent games, And one nice positive – since it’s a flip phone, no inadvertent and potentially embarrassing “butt dialing.” It may not have “bells and whistles” but it does make and receive calls; it’s a phone, after all.

8. You keep appointments and notes on a decades-old PDA with no Internet access

True, it’s operating system is so old (Windows CE/Pocket PC) it’s obsolete. It does have Pocket Word and Excel but transferring files to a modern PC isn’t a viable option. Most computers today no longer support infrared capabilities. Still, it does keep have an appointment calendar which can be set to remind you with a beep at certain time intervals. It also offers a contact list where information on business associates or personal info can be entered. It’s simple to use and a bonus – no distractions, except perhaps for a game of solitaire.

Too Many Devices: A Problem for Seniors

9. You take photos with a vintage 35mm film camera

Your family and friends chide you for not having a digital camera enabling you to share photos via computer email. It may be challenging to find a place that still develops film, but it is possible. And it’s so comforting using the favorite old camera that has traveled with you and captured so many memories.

10. You read books by actually turning the printed page

Of course, you’ve heard the words “Nook” and “Kindle Fire”, but you really have no idea what they are or how they work. But when you open the binding of a new book and it cracks, that’s a familiar sound. Perhaps it reminds you of past times spent in the library, a favorite bookstore or a sitting in a cozy chair sipping hot chocolate on a cold, damp day.

Kindle: Don’t Leave Home Without One

If these signs make you a part of this dinosaur group, there’s no need for panic or despair. Enjoyment can still be found and accomplishments achieved. They just might be the old-fashioned way!

About the Author

Carolyn Bower, Freelance Writer
Wooster, OH 44691


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