I am not European but I have been living in France for more than twenty eight years so I am beginning to feel like a European.

About  seven years ago I realized that I needed to get started on computers.  I have lots of experience with administration of a variety of organizations both public and private.  I always used office machines like typewriters, both manual and electric, copiers both manual and electronic, telephones, both those with multiple users and private lines, and filing systems  of many types.

My formal education was in the United States and included a bachelor of arts from the University of Iowa, a masters of arts from Michigan State University  and a few courses towards a doctorate.  In addition I particapated in numerous workshops and conferences related to my work and to my extensive volunteer work.

But the time had come to make the transition to the net.  I did not know how to get started and expressed this to a friend who took me into an internet cafe and set up an email account for  me.  Email was relatively easy for me to figure out but when I decided to move ahead and joined an organized class for seniors being given in French, I found that I could not keep up as learning the vocabulary and the methods in a second language was an impairment and the class went very fast.  Since I had decided to learn a sufficient amount using an internet cafe instead of investing in equipment for my home that would only frustrate me, my practice time was a bit limited so I dropped out of the course.

Young people running the internet cafe helped me when I got stuck and after three years I felt I had picked up enough to buy a computer for my home.  A friend who was returning to Canada said I should use her printer, so I set up a little office in a corner although I did not like having all these machines visable.

Shortly after my grand daughter, who was then eleven and living in Jakarta, asked me to join facebook.  Who can say no to grand children ?  I asked my daughter to put my photo on the site as friends were asking why that space was empty.  I put a minimum of information on the site and answered any messages but di d not post  any of my own information.  I used it for messaging when I realized that some people only look at facebook rather than their email.

Occasionally I made mistakes like sending a message to everyone instead of only to the person concerned, but friends set me straight.  My second computer  had a touch pad rather than a mouse and it was very sensitive so sometimes  it sent the message to the wrong person or made it disappear into thin air.

I have decided not to keep files and deal with every message the same day, trying to avoid reading the message twice.  After responding, I print out information I will need  and put the rest in the trash.  From my experience with files, I decided that if I kept too much I would never have time or the energy to look for it again or perhaps I would not be able to find it again, so I have never set up a filing system.  Since I have family and friends who save everything  and  are tolerant of my decision, I can always but rarely need to recuperate specific information.

Recently I have played around with many types of internet searches, mainly for planning a long trip to the United States, and it has been very helpful but not always sufficient.  There is no doubt that it is desirable and perhaps necessary to enable everyone to utilize a minimum amount of this new technology or run the risk of having them drop out of contact with friends and organizations.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to stay out of the system.  Fax machines were very user friendly but they are disappearing .  Some businesses will only interface by computer so this excludes those who are not minimally adept.  It behoves  all of us to pay attention to those who have not kept up and to find ways to keep them in contact with others.

My first experience with computers was in 1978 when my husband, who was a researcher for IBM Kingston, New York, brought home a P C and at least 6 heavy systems explanation books.

While I was figuring out when I would have time to read all that boring material my  nine year old turned it on and created a matrix so she could beat the neighbor boy  playing  a Dungeon and Dragon like game.

I only used word processing and when I wrote my annual report for a large organization of which I was President and the printer would not link up and I had to go to the meeting with a lame excuse – the computer ate my document – I lost confidence in this technology and rarely used it until I came to France and registered an email address about 25 years later.