The world of the world wide web according to residents of the Maureen Plowman rest home
Laetitia: “Hello, my name’s Laetitia, I write for a student magazine called Salient. Could we interview your residents about the internet?”
Voice: “Will our rest home be named?”
Laetitia: “Sure, if you like? I mean, our readers won’t be using your services in a while…”
Voice: “Any advertising is good advertising. When would you like to do the interview?”
Laetitia: “I was hoping tomorrow around 11am maybe?”
Voice: “Oh no—that’s bingo time. They get very grumpy if their bingo’s interrupted. The ones you’ll want to talk, the ones who aren’t in the dementia ward, will be playing.”
Laetitia: “So their level of bingo participation is proportional to their state of mind?”
Voice: “Yes, exactly.”
With that in mind I arrived at the Maureen Plowman Rest Home at 10am the next day to speak to the two residents of the rest home who owned computers on their thoughts about the internet.
88 years old
Ex-WWII tank driver & successful businessman
I’m a bit scared that [computers] will take over the human race. Everything’s computerised and the more you look at them (points at his computer) the more computerised you’ll become. In saying that, it’s done a lot of good, revolutionised the world. When I got home from the war in ‘44, we had no radio and light was from a kerosene lamp. I bought the first radio for my parents with my gratitude from the war. It’s unbelievable how things have changed. When I was younger I used to catch eels, swim in the river and get up at 5am to shoot possums for money. It was a situation where you made your own fun, and you had to be creative. That’s lost because the young ones are in front of the TV all day and they stay in bed until 11am. People don’t think anymore, it’s all put in front of them.
Soon their hands will drop off—a bird that doesn’t fly loses its wings.
72 years old
When did you get the internet?
I got my first computer with internet in 1999. I knew about them before, I was living in England at the time where my husband had been working on and developing computers since the fifties. I always had an electric typewriter but was finding that getting tapes was getting rather difficult. I asked my son if it would be better to have a word processor. He said it would be. They were selling them cheap in ’99 because they weren’t sure how the date change would affect the computers.
What do you think about the internet?
I don’t like the idea of Facebook or these Twitterbooks. I think it leads to people being bullied, or rumours; these young people displaying their private lives won’t get a job, and they don’t think that their in-laws will be able to see things that they did ten years ago. It’s publicity, a bit like being on stage actually. Teenagers seem to be about ‘me’, always thinking that people are watching them, but they’re not. I also think that writing will never be as good as talking, as good as seeing the expression on people’s faces. I’m also not really into the internet, there are so many things to do and if I don’t know how to do things and don’t do it regularly I forget.
What is the internet?
I don’t know.
Well, how would you describe it to a person from Mars?
Well, I’d ask them if they had a telephone to begin with… I would have no idea how to describe it! Come to think about it… how would I communicate with them? Do they have writing? I don’t know how I would describe it.
What would you tell them the internet does?
It helps me keep in touch with people, I don’t have to talk to them – I can talk through writing – I’ll assume they know what writing is. It’s a tool of communication, but you have to be careful who you’re communicating with because you can’t see who you’re talking with. Young females with older males – that’s one of the nasty things that happens. On the whole I suppose it’s a good thing. ▲