Digital Disaster-Zone: Further ADHD Adventures of Chaotic Carol

Last week, I bungled the booking system, plunging members of my newly-launched peer support group into confusion when trying to sign up for our next five sessions and gain that discount. I meant well! 

Kindly colleagues helped out. I sent a better-worded invitation to try again. This worked for some, not everyone. My ever-patient colleague helped out again.

I managed to find and resuscitate an ancient mobile, and congratulated myself on finally starting a mobile account with my brand-new work number. Result! If you knew the soul-destroying hours engaging with chatbots, then human beings with script-only language skills, trying to disentangle from a previous job’s mobile account with that provider – the algorithms insisted I was still that redundant work self whenever I tried to log on – you’d understand the torture I’ve withstood, forcing me to assume a whole new identity to enter their universe unimpeded by my past: a sort of witness protection programme. (Why? Yes – they are the cheapest providers of SIM-only service round here.)

Following this triumph, I optimistically announced a wonderful new WhatsApp group for the longsuffering members – only to be digitally banned by WhatsApp “for spam activity”, three times so far, even when experimentally inviting only one contact – myself. Perhaps I am (justifiably) blacklisted in the tech universe.

Should I retire early and sign out of the digital game? There’s no escape, as two innocent octogenarian NatWest customers recently found, threatened with losing access to their savings, as non-digitals unable to prove their identity despite having their account for 17 years. 

Recent green aspirations to move to a more ethical bank that doesn’t dabble in fossil fuels led me and my poor husband to near-breakdown – yes, battling to verify our existences. With no branches nowadays, we were doomed to download and contend with a mobile banking app, struggle to photograph and upload our ID documents, repeatedly stare at our poor tortured selves on their camera, slowly turning right and then left, dreading a sudden log-out. I recall efforts to help my teenager gain his first Young Scot Travel Pass – 15 failed selfie snaps with their software, expression increasingly fraught to prove my status as his mother. The solution was visiting our local library to beg for help – sorted in five minutes, wishing we’d realised earlier. 

Neither my husband nor my son has ADHD. The teenager is well used to apps and mobile-based systems. But they, too, can be digitally tortured and flummoxed. What hope is there for an older spicy-brained woman who experiences Rejection Sensitivity in the face of cruel and impervious systems like this?

Abilitynet’s gentle, cheerful volunteers help the over-50s (yes!!) and disabled folk with tech issues at home. Just so you know.

Human contact is ultimately needed for comfort and resolution. And I ask your forgiveness for my many digital disasters. I’ll get by with a little help from my tribe. Gonna try…

Carol Stobie

Director, Procrastination Station

Peer Group Facilitator

May 2024


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