Our elderly friend Martha has recently acquired a used laptop computer and has subscribed to the local cable company internet access so she could have email.
I never thought I’d see the day that Martha would succumb to the siren call of the internet. She was steadfast in her resolve to remain firmly rooted in the mid-20th century. This was quite a pain in the neck because she was the only member of our goat club without email so we always had to make the special effort to keep her informed of news, events, etc in person, or by phone or regular mail.
My Mother, just like Martha, was born 80 years ago and is another to refuse modern communication methods. I appreciate that technology is daunting and can overwhelm older people so I always admire those, like Martha, that stretch themselves a little to stay in the world rather than complain about how the world has left them. I know there were folks in these parts in the early 1960’s that refused to get a dial telephone, saying that it was too complex a technology and they preferred the old crank version phone, or the personal touch of visiting. Well, computers and the internet are today’s dial telephones.
Martha lives alone on her farm and her nearest relatives are 4½ hours away via ferry. I’m not sure if that factored into her decision but Martha suddenly realized that she needed to stay connected to the world and move beyond her push-button telephone. She received her computer from a mutual friend of ours, whose husband had recently bought a newer one. Before handing it over to Martha, the husband wiped the hard drive clean as he should have. Unfortunately, he removed all the software, including email programs so Martha was taught by them to log-in to the ISP’s webmail and check her email in that fashion. This became problematic for Martha and our mutual friend asked if we could help her.
Bill quickly ascertained that she needed to have an email program installed as even we found webmail to be cumbersome. This way she wouldn’t have to remember the logging in sequence, password, etc. We made arrangements to install the software she bought at our next visit to trim her goat’s hooves. The install completed without any difficulty and before long Martha was able to send and receive emails with relative ease.
One of the emails she received had a photo attached. This presented itself at a very opportune time as we were able to show Martha how to open attachments. The photo was a joke about a cat standing on its hind legs, straining to see over a snow bank. It had the caption “Well shit!”. This image caused Martha to convulse with laughter and even after she composed herself, and learned how to forward the picture to someone else, was still overcome with giggles like a schoolgirl. The sight and sound of her innocent delight was heartwarming and brought joy to both Bill and I.
After the humour of the picture had subsided, Martha made the comment, “I didn’t think Susan had a cat, I thought she only had a dog”. We didn’t have the heart to tell her at that moment that the picture was a generic one circulating throughout the internet. Instead, we silently chose to protect the innocence of a child . . .