A Conversation with Mum about Stopping the Internet
A chill wind blows through the dim recesses of my mind when Mum says, I need a new computer. It verily turns my innards liquid.
The only mature adult response is to stall with a vengeance at a pro level. This, I am good for.
I don’t think she needs a new computer or that it’s possible for me to emerge unscathed from any need to upgrade her to new software.
I will go where no sensible daughter goes. With no skill, no guide, and no hope, I will attempt to fix her IT.
Mum: I’ve turned it on for you. But I don’t want you to touch any of those things.
Me: What are those things? Random clippings of things on the desktop.
Mum: I don’t know, but you’re not to touch them.
Me: So tell me what’s wrong with the computer.
Mum: It’s very slow and it sends me messages saying it has to reload, reload, reload. Always reloading.
Me: Reload what?
Mum: I don’t know. It never reloads. The Nerds couldn’t fix it.
Me: What did you tell the Nerds was wrong with it?
Mum: It won’t go up and down with the arrow or the mouse. And it gets stuck and it makes things different.
Me: No idea. Okay. What’s different?
Mum: The net.
Me: Aren’t you all tech savvy then.
Mum: Don’t be smart.
Me: I will need to be smart if I have to do what the Nerds couldn’t.
Mum: What are you doing?
Me: Poking about. I’m deleting random bits and bobs of stuff she doesn’t need.
Mum: Don’t do that. You might make it worse.
Me: I might make it better. I am such a liar.
Mum: You won’t.
Me: When you say it won’t go up and down, what do you mean?
Mum: When I’m on the garden page it just gets stuck.
Me: So when you’re on the gardening website, the screen freezes.
Mum: Yes. It won’t go up or down when I press the arrow.
Me: Okay. I gamble everything on swapping her from IE to Chrome.
Mum: What are you doing?
Me: Changing the way you get to the internet
Mum: How will that help?
Me: The way you’ve been doing it is old.
Mum: Like me. Can’t I just keep doing it the same way.
Me: If you want the same outcome.
Mum: I should just get a new computer.
Me: Let’s try this first. Because I might not live through a whole new computer.
I set her up with Chrome, bookmarking her favourite sites and we have a couple of dummy run -throughs so she can find things.
Mum: That does work better, it’s not freezing and you can go up and down, but it’s still not right.
Me: What’s not right?
Mum: It changes.
Me: What do you mean?
Mum: Well, look. We go to this page and it’s all flowers and then if we wait a minute it will be pots and wheelbarrows—all different. Make it stop doing that.
Me: Um. You mean, on the website, how the content changes?
Mum: The words and the pictures change. It never looks the same and when I go back the same stuff isn’t there.
Me: Um. Right. So the garden site is scrolling different content.
Mum: Make it stop. Put something on there that makes it stop.
Me: Ah, it doesn’t work like that.
Mum: Why not?
Me: Websites aren’t static any more.
Mum: What does that mean. Because I lost the original power cord, but we found this one and it does the trick.
Me: No, static as in still.
Mum: Are you telling me websites constantly change the stuff they have on them. When did this start happening?
Me: A while. You know how on news sites you get different stories appear.
Mum: Well yes, but the things I want aren’t news sites.
Me: They change the content to keep you interested.
Mum: Well, I’m not interested in that. Make it go back to the other way.
Me: I can’t make it go back. Websites used to be static and now they’re dynamic. They used to have fixed content but now they can change it more often.
Mum: And you can’t fix that?
Mum: Then I need to get a new computer like I said.
Me: No, it will be the same on a new computer.
Mum: How can that be?
Me: It’s the way the internet works.
Mum: But how will anyone ever find anything if it’s always changing?
Me: Hmm. Did you tell the Nerds all this?
Mum: No, I told them my connection to the world was broken. She points to the hard drive.
Me: I see. This feels like a profound moment.
Mum: If you can’t fix that, maybe you can fix this printer.
Me: What’s wrong with the printer?
Mum: It’s not printing.
Me: Thank you for that self-evident fact.
Mum: Don’t be a little smart face.
Me: It would be hard for it to print given it’s in the other room and not plugged in.
Mum: What do you mean plugged in?
Me: Plugged in to the power.
Mum: Oh, it’s WiFi.
Me: It still needs electricity.
Mum: No, this one works on WiFi.
Me: Yes, but that’s only the connection between the printer and the computer.
Mum: But it’s WiFi.
Me: You can just keep saying WiFi if you like.
Me: It still needs a power cord. Where did this printer come from?
Mum: Willi gave it to me. It’s WiFi.
Me: Okay, so did she give you the power cord.
Mum: I didn’t think I needed it.
Me: You need it.
Mum: Willi is going to think I’m an idiot. I told her I knew about WiFi and she could throw the cord away.
Me: Oh. It’s actually a standard socket. I might have one of those I can give you.
Mum: This has been completely unsatisfactory.
Me: Wait a minute. I fixed your browser. You can access websites properly now and all you need is a power cord and I can set up the printer. You don’t need a new computer or a new printer.
Mum: But all that is just shuffling the deck chairs. You didn’t fix the net, which is what I really want. I don’t want all the changing things.
Me: If I could fix the net, believe me, you could have your very own section of it that never changed.
Mum: Could I?
Me: It would be like the dark net only for mums, run entirely power free, where nothing ever changed, Nerds could fix everything without a clear idea of the problem, and daughters never needed to risk their sanity.
Mum: Sounds good to me, but you forgot one thing.
Me: Of course I did.
Mum: No reload, reload, reload and WiFi.