Hump Day: Mom now has the Internet, so my new career is tech support

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

I never thought I’d see the day, but my mother and her husband got their first computer last week. Welcome to the wonderful world of the Internet and all its possibilities!

I can’t imagine not having access to the Internet. On the odd occasion that the power has gone out or the Internet was down, I felt a combination of freedom combined with incredible dread that I didn’t know right up to that second what my Facebook friends were having for supper. It was quite a dilemma, let me tell you. First world problems, for sure.

I seem to remember that I was a bored kid. Sunday afternoons were the absolute worst and most depressing. There was nothing on television (except for interminable reruns of CBC’s Hymn Sing), no stores were open (this was the 1970s and early 1980s) and I was pretty much stuck at home.

One of our great joys was a Saturday trip to the Mountain Road branch of United Bookstore (as it was called at the time) to trade in a whole pile of comics for new-to-us ones. That would make that following Sunday quite a joy, actually, since we were all busy reading our new comics.

But that didn’t last long and boredom would set in again. No Internet. No smartphones. No VCRs. If you missed your favourite television show, you were out of luck. Come to think of it, we might as well have been living with the dinosaurs! At least we would have been kept busy trying not to be eaten! “Here, take my brother, Mr. Tyrannosaurus Rex! He may look skinny, but I can assure you that he’s probably quite delicious!”

So now my mother will learn how to use a computer from scratch. And yes, I had to show her how to turn it on. Hey, if you’ve never used one, you have to start somewhere, eh?

The one thing everyone needs to remember when learning how to use a computer and the Internet: no question is a bad question!

It’s better to ask (what you consider to be) a stupid question than to find your computer infected with a virus or that you’ve somehow given your credit card number to a supposed Nigerian prince who wants to marry you and needed money for the airfare to Canada.

Mistakes will happen, of course, but that’s no reason not to plow forward into the wonderful world that awaits you online. Just use your common sense.

Would you give your credit card number to a stranger who walks up to you on the street? Of course not. Then don’t do it online either. Would you invite a complete and utter stranger with wild eyes and a maniacal laugh who’s carrying a knife into your home who tells you that they want to be your friend? Of course not. Well, don’t become friends with strangers on Facebook either!

Being online doesn’t mean leaving your common sense at the door. If your neighbour came up to you tomorrow and told you that aliens with three heads are roaming the streets, would you believe him? No, you’d probably go over to his house and look for a three-foot-high stack of empty whiskey bottles in his back yard. Well, if you read something similar online, use your same judgment. Don’t share it. Don’t believe it. Don’t freak out about it. Ignore it and move on, just like in real life.

My mother - Freda Cormier - and her new laptop!
My mother – Freda Cormier – and her new laptop!

Getting online has opened up the world to so many seniors who were previously isolated (to varying degrees). If you know how to turn on a computer, open a browser and type a few words, you can now connect to the world.

My mother’s heard about Facebook for years and asks me if anyone in the family has posted interesting photos every time I see her. Now, she’ll have the ability to see all that in real time.

When she watches the news and weather on television and they say to check Facebook or the website for more information, she’ll be able to do it. What is intimidating now will be second nature in a month from now.

And my 11-year-old nephew will be absolutely thrilled! Now that Nanny has the Internet, he won’t have to sit on the neighbour’s steps to borrow their Wi-Fi signal to play his video games when he visits. Boy, will he be surprised when Nanny tells him that she’s online! And hey, if he decides to visit more often (which I’m sure he will), then so be it.

Welcome to the Internet, Mom – and I hope that my future Nigerian step-dad is nice (and rich, too).

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