It took 20 minutes for me to figure out my grandmother was talking about an iPad. “It’s Internet,” she said, lingering on each syllable so that it sounded like In Ter Net, “but for old people.”
Her neighbor told her about something they bought for an elderly relative where “she just pushes a button and sees pictures of her family every day.”
My grandmother had already tried a laptop, but even I had trouble figuring out how to log her into email. We got locked out and my niece got the reset code via a hotmail account she hadn’t used since 2002. Did I mention my grandmother’s wifi is dial-up speed? Or that she still calls me when she gets junk mail she doesn’t understand?
She got along 88 years without an iPad but heard its siren call of Easy Family Connectivity and I thought well maybe Facebook is more her speed. It’s easy to navigate and her family is already on there sharing pictures. I pictured her logging on every evening with a cup of tea, clicking like, unlike, like.
Next time you log onto Facebook, pretend you’re someone who has never used a computer before. What do you dare touch when you’re scared you might “break the machine”? I got her account all set up and tried to explain she could just ignore the People You Might Know section, but her silence reminded me of the time I told her she could reheat a cup of coffee in the still unused microwave that came with her house.
Technology isn’t for everyone. It’s apparently not even for me, because I entered my own date of birth when setting up her facebook account for reasons I’m trying to remember and think it was just because I didn’t want to make her suspicious by telling her the internet needed her birth year and I was too lazy to do the math.
Six months later, my husband and I were watching super old episodes of Super Password in bed, as one is wont to do on their 42nd birthday, when I started getting confused texts from my sister-in-law.
My brother had just gotten off the phone with my grandmother to wish her a happy birthday. Nevermind that he doesn’t remember my birthday after attending 18 years of parties with that delicious cake our other grandmother used to make, nor that he presumably already wished our grandmother a happy birthday months ago. I tend to believe facebook too when it tells me it’s someone’s birthday because when has the internet ever lied?
I’m kind of jealous because I didn’t get a single happy birthday wish on facebook since I removed my birth date a couple of years ago. It felt hypocritical accepting hollow birthday wishes from people I haven’t talked to since 1989 when I rarely did the same.
A half an hour into the phony birthday call, my sister-in-law noticed facebook said my grandmother was turning 42 and thought hmmm. This was around the same time my grandmother told my brother it wasn’t her birthday, but mine. It took the rest of the phone call for him to explain what facebook was since she hasn’t looked at it since the People You Might Know incident.
I’d log in and change her birthdate, but I can’t remember her password. I understand there’s an internet for old people, so I’m holding out for that. I’d been trying to think of what to get my grandmother for Christmas, and finally it clicked: pictures of family, sent monthly because daily is a bit much, delivered right to her mailbox.