Meet Family Tech Support Guy. He’s the star of an internet meme that’s popular with “those who understand the torture of being birthed in a modern generation by parents who weren’t”.
In keeping with My New Old Self’s commitment to leaving no older person behind, I’ll pause to make sure that everyone’s on the same page, meme-wise. By meme I mean an Internet meme (pron. meem).
The power of the collective conscious of the Internet is most clearly reflected in memes. These ideas or styles, which can take the form of anything from an image to a misspelt word, spread from person to person in the online world all across the globe, with a lot of them eventually reflected in images with text (though that may not be the case all the time).
– TNW, international tech site available in Dutch, French, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Russian, in addition to English
Memes are those sometimes funny, often random pictures, videos or texts that spread online. Like a virus. We’re talking photos of cats with silly sayings. The Gangnam Style horse dance. A lot of memes have to do with animals.
That’s just one definition of meme. There are many other meanings.
1 : an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)
2 : a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable
3 : the fundamental unit of information, analogous to the gene in emerging evolutionary theory of culture – meme pool (n.) : all memes of a culture or individual – memetic (adj.) : relating to memes – memetics (n.) : the study of memes
4 : in blogspeak, an idea that is spread from blog to blog
5 : an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information
(Etymology : meme : derived from the Greek mimëma, ‘something imitated’, by Richard Dawkins in 1976)
So we’re talking about memes as per definition 5. above. Now to get back to introducing you to Family Tech Support Guy. This meme uses one of the most common formats. There’s a photo of a young guy in his late teens or 20s, looking scruffy and hairy. Not unlike the Digital Natives many of us have raised in our previously non-digital homes. The first part of the caption is at the top, with the kicker at the bottom. The picture is always the same, only the words change. You can make your own memes at home using a “meme generator”.
The sitcom-ish set-up of the Family Tech Support Guy meme goes like this. A young guy in his late teens or twenties comes home to visit his family. He is bombarded with requests that start with “Please, son…” and end with “…fix my computer”.
It’s Christmastime in the city, among other places, and that means many of us will be returning home for the holidays. We’ll open presents, get fed, watch saccharine TV shows and “Hey, before you leave, would you mind taking a look at the computer? Something broke.” It’s the dreaded question, an invitation down a bottomless rabbit hole of pop-up windows and Yahoo! toolbars. But don’t worry, you are not alone. Family Tech Support Guy feels your pain.
Please note that there are also technically skilled young females around. Their numbers are sure to increase as women become more digitally empowered. Which will lead to more Family Tech Support Girlz. But the Family Tech Support Guy meme plays on the stereotype of the young male geek.
A further warning: be prepared for your feelings to get a bit bruised. This is the price you pay for gaining direct insight into what They, of the younger generation, think of Us, the digitally challenged older generation.
Family Tech Support Guy makes snide comments about how the simplest repair job makes him a computer genius in his parents’ eyes.
Family Tech Support Guy is also cynical about the pathetically low tech level required for his family’s computing needs.
When I read solitaire at lightning speed I nearly wet myself – so damn recognizable. – funnyjunk.com
So damned embarrassing. We should take this as a warning, lest our kids stop visiting us out of fear of winding up in Family Tech Support Hell. It’s no surprise that we turn to our technologically proficient children for help. With any language, whether it’s Chinese or Windows, the later you start learning it, the harder it is. Most of us didn’t get near anything digital until our brains were no longer young and malleable.
The unnatural dependency of elders on teenagers brings a strange reversal of the usual parent-child roles. Then just when everyone’s getting to used to it, the kids leave. And that’s the end of our on-site tech support.
The empty nest means it’s DIY time. Or we launch a frantic search to replace the live-in help. Will we find other willing youths in the neighbourhood? A Rent-a-Geek service that makes house calls? Or will we just save up all our Information and Communications Technology (ICT) problems for when our adult children visit?
As for Family Tech Support Guy, I haven’t seen him around for awhile. In fact, there were no new memes of him last year. Does this mean he’s a dying breed? To find out, we turn to… who else but one of them?
Most people having kids right now are pretty tech savvy. My generation might be the last one that will be able to lord their technical prowess over their parents, dispensing pithy remarks and saving the annual Christmas slideshow (“OK now put it back on ‘AUX.’ You have to point the remote at the DVD Player, not the TV. Gosh Dad, just let me do it.”)
So what will happen to Family Tech Support Guy?
We assume Family Tech Support Guy eventually will graduate and become Unofficial Office Tech Support Guy, who is guaranteed half a lifetime of helping older workers attach files, add printers, resize images and do other really basic stuff that he’s already showed them how to do ten times already.