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Former inmates share the technological shocks they faced after being released from long sentences

'My dad was in prison for 11 years. One of the first things he did after getting out was ruin my grandma's microwave cooking a can of soup in it,' shared a Reddit user.

Former inmates share the technological shocks they faced after being released from long sentences
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Anete Lusina

When we were first introduced to radio, television, a broadcast of a human stepping on the moon, a cordless mobile phone, electronic mail, a social media account and now artificial intelligence, we all were filled with anxiety and excitement. Besides, these are constant and consistent reminders of how times and technology are not going to wait for anybody to get as advanced as they can. Imagine not being introduced to any of these advancements and suddenly you are bombarded with them. The out-of-touch moment can be a baffling one. 

Similarly, these former inmates were released after a long time and found a great reminder of how fast-paced technology can get. Reddit threads by u/niknikbluhh and u/thebunnybullet show responses from former prisoners who had served many years in prison and spoke about the most significant and shocking changes they encountered after their release. 

Here are 25 shocks former inmates experienced in the outside world after being released from a long sentence:

1. A modern cellphone

"After conquering a 45-year prison term, my wife handed me an iPhone. I’d never held a modern cellphone and I didn’t understand how to use it. Carole showed me how to access a code that would unlock the phone and taught me how to place a call. While she drove, I used the phone to call my extended family. Everyone was in tears of joy, in disbelief that my time in prison had truly come to an end. " -u/Michael Santos

2. Touchscreen 

"Buddy of mine was in 10 years. 2003 he was sentenced and just released a couple of months back. Biggest changes he noticed were cell phones and the internet. There was no Facebook at the time and the cell phones were crappy (Sony Ericsson anyone). He spent days on Facebook using a friend's touchscreen phone. Never seen a guy so happy in my life." -u/deadlyvirus

3. Microwave

"My dad was in prison for 11 years. One of the first things he did after getting out was ruin my grandma's microwave cooking a can of soup in it. I'm sure he had better stories too, but that's the only one that comes to mind." -u/spudspotato

4. Smartphones

"My brother lived with me when he got out of prison about 4 years ago. We went to Costco (where he had not been before) and he was astonished by the low prices and quantity. I had a bright pink laptop at the time, and I helped him set up an email. Got a smartphone (eventually) and was astonished by the power he could hold in one hand." -u/heyhihellogabi

5. Fast cars

"How fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry." -u/Iforgot_mypassword

6. Facebook everywhere 

"When I got out of prison I looked forward to logging into my myspace account SOOO bad... I was very heartbroken when I learned Facebook had taken everything over. Haha (but seriously though)
and that was only after 2 years. I couldn't imagine 10." -u/ReaLifEntrepreneur

7. Automatic drink dispenser 

"I recently witnessed a guy at McDonalds who had just finished an 8 year stint who was completely blown away by the automatic drink dispenser at the drive through window. From that day, I have tried to always look at things with fresh eyes, to see if there's anything else I've been missing." -u/kermi42

8. No Beeper

"For my brother it was the internet and cell phones... He came out in 2006. He wanted to get this thing called a beeper too." -u/ares7

9. How does one 'text'?

"My brother-in-law did six years. There were lots of time travel type weirdness, but the funniest was his new girlfriend was talking on her house phone and needed to text a friend on her cell phone, while also putting on makeup. She hands the cell to my BIL and says "text her back for me." He stares at it for like 5 minutes before tapping her on the shoulder and says 'um, I have no idea what I am doing.'" -u/thepropernoun

10. MP3 player

"I worked in a music store and had a guy come in who had just been released. He had no idea what an MP3 player was or even the concept of it. It was an quite interesting discussion with him, teaching him the ins and out of the internet and how to get music." -u/Bloomburgerz

11. Stock radio 

"Worked with a guy that became obsessed with electronics in new vehicles, like he was impressed with the stock radio in my work truck. When he got a car a couple of the guys helped install a radio with on star in it." -u/Meagermuskrat

12. Touch screen kiosks in place of soda fountains

"First day out I went to McDonald's and they changed the soda fountains to touch screen and let you add flavors and stuff blew my mind." -u/trapmitch

13. Too many electronics everywhere 

"I interviewed a dude who went in for murder in the early 80s. It wasn't cell phones or the internet that threw him, he knew about that stuff pretty well. It was the cars. He was a mechanic before he was sentenced and he said cars now are so different and have so much electronics." -u/anon

14. Google knows everything 

"The dishwasher at my old job served 26 years for murder. He was 21 when he went in, came out to a completely different world. I remember him constantly asking me questions to look up on my smart phone, and I never got why. Finally I convinced him to get one and spent hours walking him through it. Then I realized he thought my phones sole functionality was to look up info and was taken aback at how much other stuff smartphones can do. Nicest man in the world, still keep up with him to this day." -u/Spirited_Winter

15. Tinder and Uber 

"A friends brother went away for about 10 years. His mind was blown by Tinder and Uber. He had a hard time grasping touch screens or couldn't really see why they were better than buttons. He's never even had a debit card and paid for everything in cash before he went in. He lost it when he saw people tapping their phones to pay for stuff. I think he really struggled applying to jobs online." -u/PleasantSalad

16. House bot that turns lights on 

"My uncle came back from prison after 20 years. So essentially he came back from jail and he came back to our house just to see the family. And I thought I'd mess with him knowing that he wasn't accustomed to future capabilities. I just told my house bot to turn on the lights in the living room as we walked in, I look back, and his face was like he just saw a ghost."-u/jman857

17. Remote car starter 

"My stepdad got out after serving 25 years and was shocked the first time he saw a remote car starter. He went out to get the paper and saw my mom’s car was running without her inside it and came running in and was shocked." -u/anon

18. Google Home talks back. So do Alexa and Siri. 

"Not me but my cousin was recently in for drug abuse I believe and a bunch of other minor charges but when he got out he was shocked that things like Google home talked back to you" -u/Echoing_Circus

19. "Dreamcast" video game 

"My uncle did 10 years, 1991-2001 roughly. It was the middle of summer I was at home playing some Madden 2K1 on the Dreamcast.  I had to really explain what a Dreamcast was and that it was a video game. That football games don't happen in the summer. He didn't believe me until I turned the game off and on and started another game. " -u/endboss47

20. Pokemon Go and GPS 

"My cousin went to jail in 2010 and came out in September. He was amazed with smartphones. To be more specific, with Pokémon Go. He was blown away by the fact that a game required GPS and internet for a good experience." -u/Cretin44

21. Music is accessible everywhere 

"How much music was just everywhere, everywhere was music playing, the outside world seemed so loud." -u/theunbrokenviper

22. Like button on Facebook 

"Not me but an older cousin of mine was in prison for 18 years. He got out in early 2013 but went back in for a year I believe. Me, my mom and my sister went and visited him a few times and I remember us explaining to him what 'liking something on Facebook' meant and also what the Insanity workout was. Both times he was very amazed lol." -u/mikeweasy

23. No more record deals 

"After serving 15 years for murder, my friend wanted to get a record deal as a rapper. He planned it all out. We'd get a karaoke machine, buy tapes with instrumentals on them, rap over them, write his pager number on the tapes and finally mail them out to record labels. It was 2005. It hurt to tell him that all of his planning was worthless now." -u/poop_pants

24. Laser-activated water faucets 

"My brother served 3 years for robbery and he got out 10 years ago. The laser activated water faucets in the bathrooms of places like the movie theater caught him by surprise. He had never seen such a thing." -u/uncle-woody

25. Everyone having access to technology 

"I work with a guy who was in prison for 10 years for armed robbery. He said the biggest thing that changed for him was the technology. Cell phones were still rare when he went in, but once he was out everyone had one." -u/moparornocar

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