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August 12, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Old Dogs, New Clicks

Upon my recent return to the dizzyingly bright lights of Gisborne, I was greeted with a question from my grandfather. It had come about after a conversation about the internet and how important it has become in our modern society. He asked, “Is it like Parliament?” Perplexed, I asked what he meant. “Well,” he began, “there is too many gays and women in Parliament and I was wondering if this internet-thing had just as many gays and women using it?” Needless to say, I offered an attempt to alleviate his anachronistic concerns about these two groups before deciding it wasn’t worth it and quickly retracting myself. However, the next day, my mother asked me to help her with some internet stuff (email, etc). Because I knew she was almost entirely absent of the bigotry that was present in Grandfather, I nervously accepted.


This was a scene. My mum thought it was time to “get on the email”. So I set her up with an email and told her what the basic functions were. Now for our generation, email is a communicative tool that you cannot live without. For my mother, it is the perfect vehicle to send pictures of newborn tigers, or an email about “Maori entitlement”. You know the ones right? They get forwarded around the workplace, and then you JUST HAVE TO send them to everyone you know because the sheer cuteness of this picture is better than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD OMG LOOK AT THIS FUCKING PICTURE JUST FUCKING LOOK AT IT.

After some weeks of what can only be described as a ‘deluge’ of emails with titles such as “FWD: FWD: MUST READ SO CUTE!!!!!!” and “Sooooo true, fwd to friends!”, I’d had enough. I put my mother in the spam folder. That was the day when I truly considered myself to have reached adulthood.


Both of my parents detest Facebook. This is possibly to my benefit, as I can avoid them seeing snapshots of my weekend intoxication. However, they refuse to use Facebook not because it is ‘too complicated’ or because they can’t see any tangible benefits, but rather because they worry about the amount of ‘crotchshots’ and ‘dickpix’. They lamented, “Why would anyone want to go on and look at other people’s information… everyone is going to end up seeing everyone’s willies.” Despite my argument that you choose what to put on social media, they were not convinced. “What if someone gets a picture of your willy and puts it on Facebook?” I questioned where anyone would get a photo of my willy from. “We have baby photos of you naked,” they shot back, “they could get it and put online”.  Who are “they”? The Thought Police from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four? At this point, I wondered how they thought the exchanging of information occurs. It seems as though they believed that once you are on a social-media site, everything you own or think about becomes public knowledge like some proto-socialist cyber commune where information is shared at a greater frequency than a Kim Kardashian sex tape. I declined to debate further with them about information privacy because I valued my sanity.

Sidenote: If my Mum was on Facebook, she would be one of those people who would ‘like’ The Pakeha Party page, while sharing pictures from pages such as “Paul Henry for Governor General”, so perhaps it is a good thing that my parents have such derision for social media.


The final element of internet literacy I tried to instil was the use of YouTube. For most of us, YouTube is an important medium for watching old people falling over, poor-quality footage from Beyoncé concerts, or an overweight man’s chair breaking on live television (look it up, it is fucking phenomenal). However, my mum refuses to acknowledge the YouTube is for anything other than American Idol videos. She remains one of the four people in the world who have not switched their reality singing-show allegiance to The Voice. Before she found On Demand, she would call YouTube the “American Idol machine”, before beginning a long, well-researched rant about how the show was better, “before Simon left; he was the only one that knew what he was talking about”.

So, the moral of the story is, when the older generation ask for help with technology, make like Usain Bolt and run the fuck away.

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