Monday, May 20, 2013

The Internet and its sneaky website imps

It appears that I have fallen prey to some sneaky website imp who led me, on a work computer no less(!), to a pornographic site (not that there's anything wrong with that). I just had to write an email to my bosses, explaining that I am not actually a pervert. This isn't the first time it has happened to me but it IS the first time it has happened to me on a work computer and I'm a bit mortified. Remember the early aughts when people actually did used to look at porn all day in their offices? Remember, like 3 years ago, when they used to be able to do it at the library? The internet is a digital wolf pack hidden under the puffy, fluffy wool of sheepish domain names. I feel vulnerable. Hold me.

This issue gives me pause lately because I am showing my 84 year old grandfather how to use the internet. We have weekly lessons during my lunch hours and I'm not sure if you have ever had the nightmare pleasure of explaining the internet to someone as green as a freshly mowed lawn, then you know that when you think about it in the abstract, it seems like a simple thing: explain the internet. However, when you sit down to do it, it is incredibly difficult. Like, long periods of confounded silence level difficult. Nothing about using a computer or the internet makes logical sense and nothing about it is intuitive, unless you are a quick study and/or you were born digital. Do they still even use that phrase? Any and all public librarians who work with adults will understand the problems associated with this. You cannot just say "double click here" without a barrage of questions. Why do I double click here but single click there? There is NO REASON. And that is just for the basic functions. At what point do I tell my grandpappy that it is possible to innocently web search and STILL end up being slapped in the face by naked ladies. We still have not mastered how to make the @ symbol appear!

Though I have had to show various library patrons how to use a computer or navigate particular websites, it has always been for scattered, short periods of time. There are, after all, limits to what someone can be shown at a reference desk (don't tell my bosses I said that). And so I never really thought too much about it before spending so much one on one time with a complete novice but in actuality, learning how to use a computer sort of encourages a person to be submissive. The computer freezes, you have to shut it down and restart. Why? Just do it. That's the answer for almost every basic computer function. (Obviously, I'm talking about in terms of the layperson. I'm sure IT professionals and computer engineers understand the ins and outs.)

But in general, the easiest way to explain to someone that their lives will be better served by a computer is to simply say "I don't know why, just do it." I don't know if this fact is indicative of the inevitable sentience of computers (and the subsequent downfall of humanity) or if it is just what we all must do in order to cope with our increasing dependence on computers for nearly all aspects of daily living (many young people can no longer read the face of a watch in order to tell time, think about THAT).

A lot of the time my grandfather forgets what I tell him anyway and we have to go through it all again. I suspect most of the confusion lies with two things: 1) my abysmal Spanish and 2) my inability to explain reasons why. If anyone has any tips on how I should broach that, I'd be happy to hear them. Otherwise, SUBMIT TO YOUR OVERLORD THE COMPYOOTOR is the old standby.


  1. Replies
    1. LOL I try. I could alternate with "This is a computer. Do whatever it tells you to do, even if it feels wrong."