Monday, May 27, 2013

My Parents Don't Understand the Internet

Hello all, and Happy Memorial Day. Today's a day that many of us will spend with family, and I'm no exception. However, instead of barbecuing or catching a movie or catching up on old times I'm going to be helping them with their computer.

I'd like to think I'm pretty proficient with computers. I have a bachelors degree in IT. I worked as a system admin for almost 10 years before leaving to pursue writing. I like to build gaming machines. And yet... none of this has prepared me for teaching my parents how to use the Internet.




My parents are wonderful people, but it's amazing to me how foreign a computer is to them, even after using one in one form or another for almost 15 years now. Even the simplest things that you and I take for granted are like a whole new world to them.


I'm not sure if this is karma for my teenage years, but teaching a parent how to use a computer is like teaching a dog to ride a bicycle. It can be both frustrating and hilarious, because the outcome is almost always catastrophic.

Like my dad, for example, who has an amazing talent. He can bring a computer to its knees by attempting the simplest of tasks.

My dad was a complete badass in his youth, so he's totally earned the right to rock the wolf-face T-shirt, fanny pack, and jean shorts that are just a tad too short.


Point out everything that's wrong with this screenshot. I dare you.





At this point, the only thing left to do is burn the computer and douse anything that touched it in holy water. Most computers need a virus scan, but after my dad gets his hands on one, it needs an exorcism. If I had a dollar for every time I had to reinstall my parents' operating system or buy them another hard drive, I'd have enough money to open my own personal Geek Squad store.

But it's not just the Internet. My parents also don't understand a lot of the e-mails they get. Like spam. Which, let me tell you, is really hilarious when my mom is logging onto her e-mail to check if her sister, Anna, wrote to her, and she sees something like this...


Which in turn led to a very confusing and very hilarious call, that went something like this...


If you want to experience true awkwardness, just try to explain hardcore lesbian porn spam to your mother, while also trying to explain that sometimes spam bots use generic names like "Anna" that are just a hilariously terrible coincidence.*

*This really happened, and was every bit as awkward as you can imagine

Don't get me wrong. My parents are wonderful people, and I love them both very much. I find this funny more than I find it frustrating, but knowing that my relatives on both sides live to very, very old age (my grandma just turned 90 and her sister recently turned 101), I chuckle every time my mom calls to tell me about how she broke the Internet, because I know this is a tech support line I'll be running for the next 30 years or more.

Cheers and stay classy, friends,
Bryan (and Brandon)

Music: Sigur Ros
Beer: Sawtooth Ale



55 comments:

  1. OMG, the toolbars!!! I wish that were fake but it looks like a very real screenshot. My parents are semi-savvy but still drive me nuts. My dad "bookmarks" EVERYTHING to the desktop. I deleted and used the favorites, annnnd he still does it but doesn't understand why the laptop runs like hell.

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  2. Awesome! My parents are actually rather tech savvy in comparison. A couple of years ago, my mum was the drummer for an online band in Rock Band. I don't think the other members realised their drummer was a sixty year old woman from rural Derbyshire, but she kicked their asses on a regular basis.

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  3. OMG! This is so the truth with the older generations! My hubby works IT & he provides services to his whole family & I think all the conversations are like this. But I topped him one year by having to teach 30 nurses that were all in their 50's how to use the new charting system at work, they all thought that one wrong click would make the computers explode or something! Great post you guys!

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  4. I would find this post hilarious, except other than wearing jorts, I AM YOUR PARENTS!!!

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  5. LMAO oh that lesbian convo must have been hilarious, and really awkward. I tried to teach my grandparents a long time ago, once was enough of that haha thankfully mom knows her way around somewhat.

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  6. I don't think I ever want to try and explain the concept of hardcore lesbian porn to my mother...or anyone for that matter. Thankfully my parents have never really asked me anything about the internet. My dad is proficient enough after being a Systems Analyst for over thirty years, and my mum just never calls. I don't think she uses it much.

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  7. Where can I sign up to get those emails with the Slutty Lesbian Muff Shows? I already get the Hilarious Cat Pictures of the Day ones.

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  8. Yeah, that's beyond reformat and reinstall.
    I get the same kinds of calls. My parents are more computer savvy, so the problems are even more complicated because they think they know what they are doing and make things even worse.

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  9. Hahaha! I love the toolbars! I get that ALL THE TIME... I've never seen the "Alcohol soft" toolbar, but I'll be on the look out now.

    It's pretty amazing, I remark all the time on how timid folks can be when it comes to doing anything on computers, but it's almost worse when they're not.

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  10. Also, Sorry I haven't visited in so long! I've been on somewhat of a self imposed internet rehab program... Total social over-dose. Good to be back though, I missed this blog. :)

    Have a good Memorial Day!

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  11. Windows XP...ah trusty OS! I am actually pretty lucky as my dad worked as a programmer, so he has the newest gadgets, like he now can set the heating from his phone. My mother on the other hand just discovered whatsapp...and the emoticons that come with it. I am getting picture stories every day!

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  12. I've seen my mom break down and cry because she couldn't figure out how to print a coupon from her email.

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  13. There was a time when I taught my kids everything there was to know about the computer. Now, they are teaching me new things. My how times have changed.

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  14. That's first order of business every time I go to visit my folks... PC Cleanup.

    "How come my computer is so slow?"

    "Well, do you ever run that Spybot or disk cleaner program I installed?"

    "No, that's what your visits are for..."

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  15. "hippity-hop music" I laughed harder at that than I should've

    You dare me? Have this, then.
    Your dad's using Internet Explorer, an old and outdated version at that. XP is still good but if he can be bothered to get Windows 7 he probably should. The bottom two popups imply he has multiple virus scanner. He shouldn't even be needing one, you taught him wrong. And one can't just erase the contents of one's hard drive, how would that even work? Sure, if it's an external one, but fully wiping the one you're currently running on seems tough. Also, there's only one window in the blue bar down below, there should be at least three more, given the popups.

    Also love how Jesus is just chilling on the cross there. Dude looks pretty ripped, too.

    I feel you man. Though I don't have it as bad as you do, I still need to help my mom or sister out at times. (Yeah, my sis too. Weird, 'cause she's a generation lower than me, she basically grew up with the things.) It gets real bad when I have to help one of the old ladies in the apartment here though. I just go over there have a look, and then suddenly everything works. And if it doesn't, it's just something very simple like "how do I log in to google again?" "email goes here, password goes here" "...what password?"
    Ugh.

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  16. This totally cracked me up! My husband is right there with your parents! I've managed to learn a little more about the computer, but I'll admit it is a challenge at my age (nearly 69!).

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  17. This is totally hilarious!! My mom is proficient at the internet/computers, but my dad & stepmom are the same. My stepmom will open their email program and just scroll through "Oh look, Gerry sent us an email!" and never open it. And then she looks at all the spam and takes it seriously "Joe - Helga from Germany wants to be friends with you on facebook... who is this woman!?!?!?".

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  18. BROTHER BEER BOY BRYAN ~
    This was funny, and I'm sure I would have found it funnier still if... I wasn't so much like your parents.

    I may have passed your Ma in computer know-how, since I haven't fallen for porn spam or opened a computer virus-laden Email in over two weeks now.

    Your Pa, on the other hand, still seems to be more advanced than I am. Anytime I try to do ANYTHING new on the computer, I wind up with a "screenshot" like your Dad's (pictured above) only his is much more streamlined and less cluttered than mine.

    Computers. Arrrgghhh!
    It's difficult enough to teach old dogs new tricks, but old dinosaurs?... Fuhgeddaboudit!

    ~ Stephen

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  19. Ahhh...parents. Ya gotta love them. Mine do alright with computers overall, but my little brother--although he knows a lot about computers, has a terrible habit of destroying them from the inside out. I tried to use his laptop once, and I'm pretty sure it gave ME a virus. That thing was POSSESSED!!! I still don't know how he does it. But he's not allowed to touch anyone's computer but his own.

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  20. Really made me laugh because I can so relate to this, my uncle is terrible with computers haha, his often ends up needing wiped and looking like your computer from hell drawing haha

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  21. I had a friend back in college that had that wolf t-shirt. He hadn't earned it.

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  22. That last caption is especially amusing. Being as my computer skills are closer to your parents' than yours, I can relate to them. They're lucky to have you as their go-to tech. My little nephew or friend's tots are mine. They tell me things like, "Wait. Is sloading" and "You turn it on here" and "How come you don't know how to use kindles?"

    xoRobyn

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  23. LOL! Oh, I remember the days of helping my mother with her computer. I should have found it funny instead of frustrating. IT work is not easy. I was a LAN Admin for 13 years supporting people with Bachelor, Masters and Law degrees, but they couldn't figure out their computer. The stories!

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  24. Hilarious! I'm so far from a tech wizard that I often call myself a techie idiot. But I've been working with computers doing one thing or another for a long time. My uncle used to call. Usually he said, "I just deleted all my banking information. I need it back."

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  25. Scissors for the shower? hahaha. This is really funny. Love the Jesus with sunglasses.

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  26. I love your story. This is exactly why I won't teach my Mom the internet. I would probably have the same results.

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  27. Laughing my ass off on your "screenshots." And my dad has the same amazing ability to fuck up computers...were we separated at birth? That would explain a lot.

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  28. This is a funny one!

    Actually, it's THE funny one. All of the other posts have kind of sucked, but I haven't wanted to tell you.

    Probably because it hit home. I once tried (over the phone) to help my grandmother save a document for nearly 20 minutes before realizing that she didn't have anything open and was staring at her wallpaper.

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  29. I hear you, my parents are bad at the internet too. Though the most awkward thing was when I had to tell my boss to stop using the "socialcam" app on facbeook. EUGH.

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  30. It turns out that your mother and I are the same age. I find it amazing the range of computer skills within the 55+ age group. I have friends that drive me crazy just as your parents do you. Although I will admit a year or so ago a blogger I really like did a post how all us "old people" don't know how to use a smartphone and I thought I made a funny come back...It got me immediately "unfollowed". So at the risks of going out on a limb....There are a few of us old folks that actually know how to use computers to some degree. Doesn't save us from our bodies going to shit or anything but it keeps us busy while we head into senility. Please don't unfollow me.

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  31. You mentioned that being a screen shot. I just hope it's fake. I really.. I mean I don't even thin that kind of thing is possible anymore. AOL?

    It sounds fun. My grandfather does the same thing your dad does, with the whole simply breaking everything. One day during work he called me with "Hey I took my computer to get fixed and they're telling me they can install Windows 8.." Which I followed with "Well I've heard great things about it, but I wouldn't really recommend it for you. Everything you've gotten used to will change and be different."

    He got it anyway. Guess who learned to use windows 8?

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  32. This where you get your parents a Mac. Macs are for people who don't understand computers. Will save you a lot of trouble AND your parents can just take the damn thing to the Apple Genius bar to either get it fixed or get a new computer (if their warranty hasn't expired).

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    1. While I'm not opposed to that idea, I should probably mention that my parents are pretty cheap, so the concept of a $1500-2000 "E-mail machine" is pretty ridiculous to them.

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  33. I can get around them, not as good as your generation though

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  34. Just think of it as the grown up version of teaching your parents how to use an I-Phone.

    My 12 year old daughter frequently has to show my mother how to run certain apps on her I-Phone.

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  35. My parents have a reasonable amount of technological literacy when it comes to computers (Only took a few years and several keyboard sacrifices), but lack in certain departments such as DVD players.

    On New Years Eve, I spent close to an hour on the phone trying to describe how to insert a disc into the tray and play a DVD. The bartender gave me a free drink due to "my patience."

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  36. Is your mother really a red head? Sounds more like this dumb blonde.

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  37. That's basically my parents as well. Although they don't call me (ever, since I don't pick up the phone seeing it's them) for help, they rely on my younger brother. He's pretty annyoed with them and their Internet Incompetence... Makes good stories though.

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  38. I'm in the exact same situation with my parents. It's now gotten to the point where it's more frustrating than funny. My mom called me once because the wireless wasn't working on her laptop. I spent the first 15 mins trying to get her to locate the location of the clock in the bottom right corner of the screen (so I could get her to check the wireless connections icon next to it). I almost got to the point where I was going to tell her that she just shouldn't have a computer anymore but she finally found it.

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  39. I think a lot of us can relate. What is even more frightening is when they understand it better than we do. *Shudders*

    My mum calls me to tell me not only about the online spam, but the scammer phone calls she gets all the time. I fear her mind is slipping.

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  40. (Shudder) This is my life. I still work in IT.

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  41. My aunt is this way. Oh the hysterical stories from my cousin when he relays her latest computer troubles. He has gotten to the point where he won't even discuss it on the phone, he just heads over to her house.

    I'll have to give him that digital holocaust line :)

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  42. I'm impressed with the number of ToolBars installed while browsing AOL.

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  43. My Mother-in-Law schooled me on iPad usage. It's like a metaphorical tortoise and the hare. I slept on the iPad incase you couldn't tell the metaphor.
    Speaking of metaphors, "Just try to explain hardcore lesbian porn spam to your mother," is a metaphor for my day-to-day office life.

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  44. Haha my mum is exactly the same, when hotmail changed to outlook she rang me screaming, furious that I'd been "messing round with her emails again" x

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  45. Thankfully my mom is knowledgeable to using a computer....that and I have 2 other brothers to help. My dad...well he's dead but if he were alive he'd be lost.

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  46. My mom thinks the internet is ran by the devil so she refuses to use it, and I'm pretty sure she thinks lesbians are just really good friends. I'm happy with all this.

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  47. Explaining lesbian porn to my mother is preferable to explaining ANYTHING else to her dealing with computers. I just don't understand how you can work with a computer every single day and not know what the red X does.

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  48. My grandma was telling me how much she likes "The Youtube" today, but how annoyed she is that she can't figure out how to add anything to "her favorite collections of music" so that she can find it again. I'm honestly impressed she knows what "The Youtube" is and knew how to favorite something before the layout change.

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  49. Well, I'm suddenly glad my mom has always known more about computers than me. She was fascinated by them when I was about 10 and has obsessively researched them since.

    I don't have to be the tech support in my family. Everyone goes to her. Yay!

    I do, however, get called every time there is something wrong with the TV...

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  50. LOL!! I love that your Dad is rocking the sweet wolf t-shirt Bryan. This post is pretty much exactly what my parents are like. Except, since I am about as useless as they are when it comes to setting up the computer, and my brother is in IT, he gets the repeated pleasure of being my parents and my tech support. My mom still doesn't even understand how her cell phone works- my kids keep changing her ring tone and messing with it whenever she puts it down, which doesn't help much either!

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  51. My parents are pretty tech savvy...my mother-in-law, not so much. Fun times have been had with her iPad (that she won)as she seems to consider me the expert

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  52. Replies
    1. As a full time writer, a better question is this - why would I ever wear pants?

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