A Tech Rant. With Apologies to My Dutch Friends

TO:   Emma, Site Hosting Representative

FROM:  One of the confused millions

RE:   Our unfortunate exchange last night.


I’m sorry I yelled at you.

When I say yelled,  I mean all-capped three quarters of my answers to your incomprehensible questions, as there really is no such thing as talking out a problem with anyone over the phone other than my mother these days, and that’s a little iffy if you know what I mean. I also apologize for the inexcusable use of exclamation points to end all my sentences. Some of them twice.  I do make it a point when writing to avoid them wherever possible. Always have.

But I was angry Emma.  Angry and frustrated and hopped up on my third glass of red wine which is also something I make it a point to avoid when I’m writing, for reasons that probably seem fairly clear to you now.

desk2And this, however interminably, brings me to my point, Emma – if indeed that is your real name, for I’m almost certain I saw your Live Chat photo on iStock last week, and let’s face it, ‘Emma’ is suspiciously user-friendly.  I should know, it’s my daughter’s name.

But I digress.

My point, Emma, is this.  I’m a garden writer.  I spend four to five hours a day lightly dusted in dirt, spend two to three hours jotting down thoughts and studying other references, and then I use the rest of my daylight hours to do frivolous things like pay the mortgage or get some laundry done before we all go naked.

I don’t do this virtually, I do it in reality. With real dirt and real mortgages and real headaches when I’m forced to deal with the electronic world around me.

I’m busy.  Like everyone else. But it’s a good busy, and I do not regret a moment of it. Frivolous activities aside, if I’m not connected to the magic of soil, I’m connected to the magic of language. Except, and this is where you come in my dear – possibly virtual – girl, I am forced to spend so much time trying to figure out how to connect in your world that I’m losing the connection to mine.

It’s a brave new world out there Emma; but then perhaps you don’t understand the reference, much like I didn’t understand the indecipherable terms “header code” or WIP file last night, or WTF IS A WP CLOUD PROXY?!??

There I go again Emma, I apologize. That was unnecessary.

My generation is stuck in the middle Emma.  Stuck between you and those grayer than ourselves to whom you happily and understandably grant the golden ticket of IT Ignorance.  And so you should – they grew up without color televisions and electric typewriters, and we used to feel sorry for them too.

But I want that free pass Emma. And you won’t give it to me. And you are legion.

My generation is stuck in the middle Emma.  Stuck between you and those grayer than ourselves to whom you happily and understandably grant the golden ticket of IT Ignorance.

Have pity Emma, we’re still building careers…raising kids…paying off our student loans (Yes we have them, you aren’t the only ones tired, oppressed and yearning to be free you know.) We’re working in fields that we were trained for before the world went topsy-turvy and iPhones ruled the planet.  We had John Cusack and made fun of Trump’s hair the first time. Our acronyms referred to tangible things like SCUBA gear or NASA shuttles. We were adults with pagers Emma, and now we’re just trying to keep our heads above water.

Some of us are thriving of course. My sister is a website designer.  And she’s good at it – the way I’m good at growing things and putting words together.  Except she tells me that there’s very little point in putting the words together these days because people don’t want to read them. They want to click. I believe that’s what sent me to the third glass of wine Emma.  I hope you understand.



I don’t want to go back to this Emma. But I need more than three months before you change everything it took me three months to learn.


Now, I am perfectly aware of the acronym TLDR, and realize that to your average Millennial it applied to this missive two sentences in, but I’d like to leave you with the following analogy:

I want you to imagine for a minute that you live in a world where there is a little country with a fascinating culture and an incomprehensible language –  such as Holland.  In fact, let’s say it IS Holland.

The Dutch are cool as hell and we love to visit and eat kroketten and stroopwafels, but we’re thankful that they’re all better educated than we are and speak English fluently because what are they even saying with all those voiced glottal fricatives?

Bear with me.

In this theoretical world Emma, the Dutch have taken over.  The power has gone to their heads because they know they’ve got great stroopwafels and everyone wants one. Their voiced glottal fricatives rule the world and everyone must speak Dutch in order to get food. Of course, they love their language and it makes sense to them, because they learned it as infants, and really, it’s the best language anyway, everyone knows that.  But it’s no longer a fun place to go for mayonnaise-coated chips and a bike ride through the forest. It’s an exhausting trek, because every time you learn how to say ‘hallo’ they change it to ‘hallootjes’ just to piss you off – and everywhere you look there’s another bistro with menus in Dutch.

And damn you’re so hungry.

Have you ever tried to learn Dutch Emma?  Exactly.

That’s how I feel about your HTML and your WP Cloud Proxies and your CRON jobs and is precisely why I needed to open up another bottle of red just to get through our conversation.

I want to be able to exist in my world and visit yours.  Occasionally.  For a stroopwafel. Even a Stroopwafel 2.3.

I’ll get over it I suppose.  I’ll embrace a world where we text, not talk. Where gardening becomes a virtual pastime, not a pastime that’s virtually limitless. I’ll look forward to 245 emails (11 of them from you) because I left my desk for a day. And I’ll teach myself to text with two thumbs sans reading glasses just as soon as I retrain myself to type without two spaces after a period. Because I have to.

But until then Emma, if you could just try to understand.  Just a little.  I’ll take anything — I’ll even cope with being patronized. The way the Dutch do when you walk into a bakery and say carefully and proudly “Mag ik een stroopwafel hebben?” And they answer you in English.

If at this point I must listen to a 22-year-old speak to me slowly in artificially bright syllables while he simultaneously scrolls his SnapChat account I’ll do it – just show me where to sign.  Or will that be an extra $6.99 a month too?

Sorry, I guess I’m still a little bitter – that last hosting bill put the kibosh on my greenhouse project this year.

Well, thanks for your time Emma, I know it’s much more valuable than mine – me being over forty and all.  But I think these things needed to be said.  Even if you were binge watching The Big Bang Theory while you read them.  I like that show too.  Probably for different reasons, but hey, it’s something we can both laugh at.

When you get your first place, call me, I’ll show you how to plant a tomato and start to connect. For real.

Kind regards,

Marianne Willburn, Gardener
Representative-at-Large, Generation X








By | 2018-02-20T20:40:47+00:00 July 5th, 2017|

About the Author:

Marianne is the mother of two, wife of one and the voice of The Small Town Gardener. She gardens and writes from her home in the scenic (and exceptionally convenient) heart of Virginia's wine country.


  1. Mamamel July 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Lol! Love this. It’s oh so very true. Hahaha!

  2. Carole Williams July 5, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    I have tears of laughter running down my face while reading this! Total sympathy! I’m 72, and trying to start a gardening blog for Coloradoans. Writing is no problem–I was a journalist (you know, back when they had newspapers) and pr and marketing person. I’ve done newsletters in PageMaker. I started using the Internet when you still had to use code to make a post. But this blog stuff is killing me! Even the “blogging for idiots” stuff has too much jargon to understand. I raise my wine glass to you in salute.

    • Marianne Willburn July 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it. It’s a constant issue – you learn something, it’s changed. And you never really wanted to learn it in the first place. In fact, I was just checking website analytics shortly after posting this only to find that they had a whole new look to figure out. Ironic, comical, and horrifying all at the same time. Thanks for reading Carole!

  3. kimerworkman July 5, 2017 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Very Nicely Put…VNP!

  4. heartroadblog July 5, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    I was born in ’89. And I’ve definitely had the frustration of those older and more established than me not understand the world I’m creating– or trying to… And I feel strange about the teenagers that now know more about technology than I do… And I’m Autistic and have trouble and resistance to adapting to such an overwhelming level of change sometimes– my energy, my talents, my soul, are not suited to keep figuring out how this d***** app works or the new social expectation for just getting myself from point A to point B in a public place… But I was young enough when huge leaps of tech changes happened, that I grew up with and got used to the pace at least a little… But reading this, I really feel like I can relate– not to the exact circumstances, but to the feeling your coming from. Things seem to move so fast and I just want to life in my world and WHY DO THE RULES KEEP CHANGING? I JUST WANT TO ACCESS THIS THING I NEED, GOD D*** IT…… And reading this reminds me that, yeah, I’m not the center and start of the world. People older than me aren’t just my parents who abused and disowned me, or the government trying to oppress me. We’re all people who are scared and trying to live in the worlds of our choosing, and that’s OKAY… And it reminds me to have compassion and look beyond prejudice and remember than different people have different experiences than I do… And maybe others are struggling just as much as I am– just differently, so a little kindness, patience, and presence good a long way… Anyway, I enjoyed this. Thank you.

  5. heartroadblog July 5, 2017 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Also, yes, I know which “you’re” I meant, and I’m sorry about the typos, but I’m trying to do this on my phone and it’s frustrating and I only have so many minutes in a day to devote to fighting with the auto-correct… I hope you can forgive me that. XD

    • Marianne Willburn July 6, 2017 at 12:55 am - Reply

      I do whatever I can to avoid having to text and am amazed at the length and the breadth of your comments here – typos are 100% forgiven. You are very right – we ARE all just trying to get along in this world and it worries me that the pace of change may be overtaking our ability to adapt on a very human level without feeling like there is something wrong with us for falling behind. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  6. Brooke Beebe July 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    That’s a great piece. Had to look up TLDR, but got it, thanks to Google. Congratulations on your award!

    • Marianne Willburn July 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Brooke. I had to look it up a few months ago too.

  7. A Greener Life UK July 7, 2017 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    Oooooh Yes, with you 100% there Marianne, I’ve just been round the houses with Amazon seller support whilst trying to set up an account for my wife’s craft business, and by gum was that like pulling teeth! I have no idea how some of these people ever get through the educational system, but they certainly seem to have dropped all notion of teaching common bloody sense. Clearly doesn’t have any value for their Ofstead report (I’m in the UK by the way). Simple, practical applications that involve “just getting on with it” honestly seem to be alien concepts to those graduated with honours in snapchat. I’ve kinda given in a little in that I now use a few social media things but I still can’t help but refer to real stuff when using it, and will alway text in longhand with punctuation and use ‘Dear…’ at the beginning of email letters. I call it manners, something else that’s been sacrificed to .com ? it seems. (just got the hang of these emoji things as well).
    So Marianne, I raise a fourth glass of red to your rant and have another bottle standing by ??
    I was born in the 70’s and still miss my manual typewriter sometimes. Anyhoo, back to watering the garden, it’s baking over here

    • Marianne Willburn July 7, 2017 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Ah yes…manners. That is probably the subject of my next wine-fueled rant. 🙂 Still, the garden is a great stress relief!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.