Friday, 8 July 2011

Back To The Future (Of Technology)

As many of you now know, my family are an endless source of entertainment for me. They always have been and I hope that tradition will last forever. I actually aspire to the dizzying heights of insanity that they manage to achieve, seemingly effortlessly, on a pretty much daily basis. One of the great things I love about my parents is how far behind on technology they tend to be. They got broadband only last year, for example, and when I tried to show them how to do a few basic web things, they ended up mostly bewildered and lost. I have to actually be there in person now because on the few times they have tried calling me to enquire about a solution for a computer-related problem, I have realised that they do not follow instructions well at all. I have inherited this trait unfortunately, but not, it would seem, to such a crippling degree.

This conversation was held over loudspeaker so my dad could hear me as well. He is a little more computer-savvy than my mother and so I could occasionally hear him giggling in the background at her helpless attempts to connect with the modern day world.

Mum: So, how would I look for that?

Me: Well, you'd just use Google.

Mum: (doubtfully)

Me: (aware that this conversation will frustrate me to tears and it has barely begun) Yes. Google. You know?

Mum: Um, I've heard people talking about it?

Me: Right. Well, it's a search's a way to look for things. You use computers at work, don't you?

Mum: Yes but I don't use The Internet.

She pronounces it as if it is a strange and mystical being which could be angered by some small misstep.

Me: Okay. Well, Google is just a page on the internet. What you need to do is double click on the little internet picture...

I wait for her to double click. I hear two clicks in slow, laborious succession.

Mum: It's not working.

Me: You need to double click. Not click twice, but double click.

Mum: (heaving a massive sigh) Okay.

I wait again. After a moment I hear her still clicking like she's starting and stopping a 100-metre race, but at least it works.

Mum: Okay, now what?

Me: Okay, now type the word "google" into the address bar.

Mum: The what?

Me: The address bar. The bit on your screen at the top where the name of the webpage is?

There is a hesitant, desperate silence.

Me: Why don't I just come and visit you at the weekend?

Mum: Would you?

Me: (pinching my nose) Yep. Fine. It's not like I had plans.

Mum; Thank you, dear.

Me: Oh and remember, never type 'Google' into Google.

Mum: Why?

Me: The internet will stop working.

Dad: (teasing) What was that? TYPE 'Google' into Google? I'll do that for you!


This whole conversation just reminded me of the time I told my mum that the word "gullible" wans't in the dictionary. Her response was a perplexed "oh. Really? Well. Why doesn't someone do something about that?"

Now, I understand this issue with new technology and my parents, to an extent. I imagine that the fear and confusion they experience whilst trying to navigate towards YouTube is about the same as I would experience after being told to lift a yacht with one hand or die. I understand that people of my parents generation find it a little harder to get to grips with the internet and all the wonders it can open up. But I still find it hilarious to recall stories about their ignorance - the time my mum asked me whether it cost anything to send an email (and when I explained that it was free, she asked me where you put the stamps) or the time my aunt told us that my cousin wouldn't add her as a friend on Facebook.

Me: He's fifteen. Of course he doesn't want to add you as a friend.

Mum: You'd add me as a friend on Facebook right? If I had one?

Me: Um...

The thought of my mother being able to access my life and all the hideously drunken photos I've ever been tagged in, is a horrifying, soul-rending thought. The thought of her having the power to, say, follow me on Twitter and see all my tweets about the #penistortoise and other such masterpieces of photography, is just terrifying.

Me: Probably not, if I'm honest. It's for the best.

In case your curiosity was piqued by last last line, here's a treat. Ladies and gentleman, the Penis Tortoise.


  1. Huh. Well, crap. It really IS a penis tortoise. You people across the pond truly are a fascinating lot. Good eye for photography, too.

    I helped my mother install anti-spyware software over the phone once. Suddenly my go-round with an infected wisdom tooth seemed painless, childbirth a breezy affair. ANYTHING BUT TELLING HER HOW MULTIPLE WINDOWS ARE ACCESSIBLE FROM THE TASKBAR. AND WHERE THE TASKBAR IS AGAIN. (HINT: RIGHT WHERE IT WAS THE 15 TIMES BEFORE AAAAAH HEEEELP NEED EMANCIPATION LAWYER)

  2. I actually apologised to the tortoise after the photo. I've never felt so British in my entire life - "Oh. Good lord. I'm so sorry, I've made you look like genitalia. Do forgive me." If I wore glasses I would have taken them off and cleaned them in an uncomfortable fashion ;)

    Ha, I love the sound of your mother. Perhaps a parental help class is in order? I'll enroll mine as well.