My 83 year old father is not internet savvy. He's never been on a computer, but often calls me to get information off the internet. Usually I provide him with phone numbers or addresses, but I've even had the opportunity to settle a dispute between my dad and my brother about chickens thanks to the world wide web.
Recently my dad asked for my email address. He is in the process of getting new renters for his farmhouse in Wisconsin and one of the potential renters asked if he could email his application. This resulted in the following conversation (FYI, you'll probably figure out that I have changed the details of my email so you won't have much luck if you try to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Dad: Do you have an email… email number?
Me: An email address? Yes, I have several.
Dad: Several?! Why would you need several?
Me: [Start to explain and then realize this is getting way too complicated. Back up and essentially say “for work and for personal emails”. This seems to satisfy him.]
Dad: Well, I might as well get it now in case these potential renters need to email us information. [he rummages around to find paper and pen while TV blasts in the background]. Ok, I’m ready.
Me: E as in Elizabeth. E dot.
Dad: What do you mean ‘dot’?
Me: Uh, dot like a period. E period, but it’s called dot in an email. So E dot, J
Dad: E dot J? Hold on, I have to turn this TV down. [returns after background noise is turned down]
Me: Yeah, E dot J dot
Dad: Another dot?
Me: Yes, so E dot J dot Davis
Dad: D or Davis
Me: Davis. E dot J dot Davis at… um [knowing he has no idea what @ is] this is actually the @ sign, not the word ‘at’.
Dad: There’s another dot?
Me: No, after davis is the sign for ‘at’. It’s an ‘a’ with a circle around it.
Dad. An ‘a’ with a circle around it?! [I sense mass confusion in his voice].
Me: Dad, just tell him E dot J dot davis at… and he’ll know what ‘at’ means. Ok, E dot J dot davis at Netwebs… n e t
Dad: n e t
Me: w e b s
Dad: w e b s
Me: dot, or period com. c o m
Dad: dot c o m
Dad: Yeah, this guy is 50 and he said he just started using the computer, but he asked if I had email.
Me: [Envisioning two senarios: 1. Due to 50 year olds inexperience with the computer I get spam email asking me to buy erection medication from Canada. 2. I never receive an email because he doesn't know what eperiodjperioddavisatnetwebsperiodcom is.]
I know I make fun of the conversation my dad and I had, but I do have to give him some leeway. The internet world does have it's own language that non computer people are not aware of.And sometimes I am a little envious of him. My job requires me to be on the computer all day and then I often come home and spend more time checking my email, blogs, writing this blog... What did I do before computers? Sometimes I want to go back there. Sometimes.
True to form my dad called back about an hour later and asked for Channel 5's phone number. I can't wait to find out what atrocity he plans to report to their news team. I love my dad. : )