Open Thread for Family Tech Frustrations! #holidaytechfail

EVERYONE GOT WHAT THEY WANTED, OSM! But wait, as a tech-savvy individual you are now tasked with making everyone’s electronic shit work. NOT OSM!

Do you hate being the go-to-techie in the fam? Or is it even worse to watch your relatives writhe in agony trying to figure out how to change their ringtone to a MIDI of “Silent Night?”

I got off pretty easy this year- I only had to pry some tiny batteries into a booklight and pop a SIM card into a new iPhone 3GS. So far, that is.


So, how many hours did you spend setting up your niece’s Zune or your grandpa’s new laptop? Did grandpa even really need a laptop? Come on. Got any past or present holiday tech horror stories to share? Rant here!

And this isn’t even counting all the shit that got messed up since the last time you were in town fixing up their brokedown 1994 Gateway desktop. Like, seriously?

And hey, by the way, did you get anything sweet? Can I come over?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Taylor has written 136 articles for us.


  1. I think the most terrifying feeling in the world is tech-incompetence. If I can’t figure something out I panic that I’m getting old and obsolete. My family are pretty clueless though so teaching them always makes me feel comparatively relevant.

    I got my mum’s old Nikon D80 because she upgraded to a D300s. Sweet.

  2. I don’t usually have to be the go-to-techie because my dad is more of one than I am BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT MY BRAND NEW ONE TERABYTE EXTERNAL HARDDRIVE! Guys, I transferred 19 gigs in 30ish minutes. ARE YOU JEALOUS?

    Also, recently found my psp. Have been playing so much. #love

    • I just bought one too and I am SO happy!! It was on sale at best buy! I have been telling everyone and they just look at me like wierdo. Cause they a. don;t know what that is or b. do see why I am excited

    • OH DUDE psp. i found mine yesterday too, one of those first gen fat ones. you gotta love useless proprietary formats.

  3. Dear Relatives: WHO THE FUCK STILL USES DIAL-UP INTERNET?! C’mon people, my laptop doesn’t even have a damn modem.

    • Dial-up internet reminds me of two things: (1) the dial-up noise and (2) the day we got dsl and I called my best friend to tell her about it WHILE MY MOM WAS ON AOL AT THE SAME TIME. Totally blew my mind.

      • I remember as a kid hearing the dial-up noise and I would remember every sound of the ‘code’ or whatever and at the LAST SECOND it would disconnect. so frustrating. Oh, and my mom still uses AOL.

        • So does my mom. She also uses IE. I tried telling her that firefox is the browser of all browsers and she just said that she is hardwired in her ways and refuses to change.

          EVEN MY DAD USES IE WHICH CONFUSES ME BECAUSE HE IS TECH GEEK EXTRAORDINAIRE. I mean, come on, who builds a super computer and then uses internet explorer?

        • this may be a double post but whatever. RUSSIAN ROULETTE BABY

          the daughter of the guy who invented AOL (steve case) went to my high school. oh, and my college too, weird. anywho, i made some disparaging comments about how AOL fucked up my mom’s ibook and the virus with the smileys back in the day. of course, i turn around and the daughter’s there with her eyes AIMing “FUCK YOU” right to my hard drive. needless to say, we never spoke again. this has nothing to do with the holidays but it is a tale that must be told.

    • My Mom is really defensive about her dial-up, and she has been known to comment on my various web-spaces whenever I mention it, so i say this cautiously, but every time I go to Michigan to see her and ask if she has wireless it’s always like, no, she doesn’t, and I have to unhook the phone to hook in the internet, and she insists that Royal Oak is “wireless” now (like the whole city is “wireless”) although she has never seen evidence of anyone being able to pick up these allegedly free-for-all city-wide wireless signals.

      • i wonder if technology will eventually come so full-circle that dial-up is retro and fun because everything is too instantaneous?

        probably not.

  4. I’m usually the go-to tech person, but this year I feel impotent. I got my GF a laptop because she desperately needs something portable and wireless, only I can’t seem to get the freaking thing to connect to a wireless network.
    :::hangs head in shame:::

    • This is something that happens to all of us one time or another. Wireless are just little creatures with an own will that or hate you or love you. Nothing to be ashamed of, blame the wireless network. That’s what we all do.

  5. I made the mistake of telling my family I was officially hired this past semester at this swanky job as an ‘Information Media Services Events Technician’ which unfortunately is as intense as it sounds. What this equates to in family world is aunts uncles aubelo/as coming to me every five seconds to plug in rca cables, change the t.v. input, find the t.v. remote control wedged between couch cushions, find the ‘on’ button to my MoMas new pink laptop, explain to her how to record a video on her new ipod…luckily i escaped with my kinda sorta gf before she opened her projector (why my mom got so many wonderful toys is beyond me). Even when the family wanted pictures taken I was called upon. “Give the camera to her. She’s certified.” Yarrr.

    Next year i’m telling them I got a job as Dos Equis drinker and Tony Hawk 2 Underground skateboarding player. Because really that’s all I wanted to do.

  6. I have just spent the last hour trying to explain to my mum over and over again how itunes/ipods work; that no, putting the ipod on hold does not equate to turning it off and that is why it is out of battery; that the protective case may not be as shiny as the actual ipod but seeming as the previous mp3 players all broke due to being dropped it is necessary and OMG HOW DID YOU TURN THE WHOLE SYSTEM JAPANESE???!!!

  7. My brother got our mom a digital frame. I asked him how the pictures get put on, USB or SD card. “I don’t know, I was hoping you could take care of that.” Loading an SD card would allow for more pictures then the built-in storage the frame comes with so I explained to him how he could go about putting pictures on a card to put in the frame. He looked at me like I was sprouting a third eye in the middle of my forehead. Guess who’s going to be buying some SD cards and loading them up with pictures?

    The g/f got me Unchartered 2 and the God of War collection which came with the GOWIII demo. I’ve been a happy gamer the last few days. :)

  8. All I’ve had to do is lend someone my iphone charger. Also my grandma came over yesterday and somehow we started talking about cell phones and I’m not surprised to find out she never turns hers on or charges it because she only needs it for “emergencies”. I’m not really sure how an uncharged phone is supposed to help in an emergency.

  9. installed LeapFrog software onto my stepdad’s computer & updated my niece’s new Tag Reader b/c — WAIT FOR IT — my brother does not have internet in his home and would not be able to update her toy AT ALL EVER NOT AT ALL.

    who doesn’t have internet like, at all? people who live on top of hills in cheatam county, that’s who.

    OH ALSO there was the Sirius Stiletto 2. still traumatized. cannot speak of this.

    • I spent Christmas with my parents who DO NOT HAVE INTERNET AT ALL! 5 days disconnected from the world! Consequently, I have spent the last three hours reading up on Autostraddle.

    • I don’t have internet in my apartment anymore… all my roommates fault — if it is not fixed by Jan 20th I may drop out of college because that is how my brain works ..that is the easy just move in to my parent house permanently

  10. Yesterday my mom asked me to rip a cd onto my computer. I asked her why she couldn’t just do it on the family computer. Her response: I didn’t know we had software to do it on there! I HAD TO WALK HER THROUGH AUTOPLAY. AUTOPLAY YOU GUYS. e_e

  11. It is sad when I am the one they go to in my fam with electronics because I really am not that super. But the main thing was teaching my mom how to use her kindle… which I have no idea why my dad would get her this… and I think that was it this time

  12. Oh but then came family photo time… you know..that self timer is some tricky stuff. I think it is my grandma watching from above because we could never ever figure out her film camera and now every year my dad struggles with the self timer — therefore they call on me haha …1 button dad..just 1 button

  13. I am the go go girl in my family as well. They call me to burn a CD, add music to a variety of players and set up entertainment systems.

    I don’t mind but when they call me at work because they can’t figure out how to watch a DVD on the the television we’ve had for 4 years, I feel like rockin’ snot boxes!

  14. Isn’t it weird though that families seem to have no idea how to use the internet or a computer if they even have internet at all, yet somehow they have mastered Snapfish to subject you to 500 photos of someone else’s child playing in the snow and even worse you have to like, sign up for an account just to see what it is that was so important it inspired your bretheren to learn computers

  15. Set up iPod touch: check
    Set up turtle beach X31 headset: check
    Set up digital picture frame: check
    Set up a TomTom: check
    Show people how to use a keurig: check
    Transform Megatron into a tank: Ommahh gawd. The most complicated gadget this year was a 4-year-old’s toy. After all those years of animorphs… shame!

    • oh god i know, I have Optimus Prime, they are so difficult its ridiculous! there is no way a child could do that on their own. the old transformers were so much easier, although that might mean that todays kids have higher standards/better manual dexterity. hmmm.

  16. does anyone else constantly get accused of breaking things (i.e. internet connection, cell phone, etc) after being asked to fix them and usually succeeding? i feel like my willingness to fix things make me suffer many accusations if they stop working again…or usually even if they keep working. wtf

  17. I work in technology so anytime a family member asks for help I get accused of breaking something or they ask me constantly if me fixing their laptop will break their WIFI internet connection. This Christmas I was lucky enough to explain to an older friend the difference between a cassette tape and a DVD. Also went a little retro and got an original Nintendo from my family with the Mario Brothers. Sweet.

  18. My Mom asked me to put music on her iPod. I refuse to use her computer, which means I am in the process of putting “Juice Newton’s Greatest Hits” onto my laptop so that I can throw it onto her iPod. And am I the only one who has NEVER heard of Juice Newton? Country Heat 2004 is next. Help me, someone.

    • I got my mom a slotRadio from RadioShack. Best idea ever for parents who aren’t computer savvy! Just buy little SD cards that have like 1000 preloaded songs, of whatever genre you want. No fuss.

  19. My dad is an electrical engineer. He has trouble with itunes. How to create, organize and transfer playlists. Yet he can take a toaster, car, vacuum and a ton of other things apart and put them back together. I do not fathom what exactly the issue is with this I have tried.

    My step mom uses AOL as well. DIAL UP. I also just recently threw away her trackball mouse for a new optical one. Her response, you broke it and now it moves to fast.

  20. This is something very familiar to me. I am always the one fixing everyone’s computers or helping out with these “technical difficulties” such as uploading pictures to the PC or USB stick. People just do not bother to try as it takes “so little time” for me to do these things for them.

    But I guess all of these little “set backs” in my holiday enjoyment and relaxement are worth the sweet ass laptop I got from the family. Now if only I had time for myself to get to know this new lady in my life… I don’t want to go taking advantage of her before we’ve been properly introduced!

Comments are closed.