Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to share technology with your Grandparents OR Beam me up, iPad

I have two Grandmas. They both live in Saskatchewan, and have lived there all of their lives. My 102 yr old Grandmother recently passed away, so this leaves me with one Grandparent. My Grandma P is what is known as 'Quite the Piece of Work."

My fondest memories are of when we would talk about superstitions. She firmly believed that if you dropped a fork, company would be coming from that direction. If a cat howled under your window at night, it meant there would be a death in the family. If you put your shoes on the table, there might be a death in the family. Yes, it seems silly, but it really affected me. Watch out in my house if you put your shoes on the table. Not only is this unsanitary but I'm immediately concerned for your well being. And don't even come near me if the cat is prowling around outside looking for birds and meows from the back yard at the EXACT moment you put your shoes on the table. This would probably be followed by a few Hail Mary's and a frantic dash for the rosary. No, I'm not religious. This superstition stuff runs deep.

When my brothers would bring those dollar store plastic snakes and spiders to her farm, they'd leave them in strategic places for her to find. When she did find them, much apron flapping and screaming would occur, upon which she'd pronounce the toys "The Devils Work", and we'd laugh hysterically.

This brings me to the iPad. This cute piece of futuristic technology was the topic of a long distance conversation recently. I don't know about you, but I spent many a evening with my parents and/or my Grandma watching Star Trek reruns (or first runs, depending on what year this could possibly have been and the fact that I had no idea what I was watching).  At least once per episode, someone would randomly tap at the communicator/hand held computer and either beam someone up or analyze the surface of the planet that they accidentally landed on but was currently populated with hotties (insert scene with Captain Kirk, that sexy beast, and you have my Grandma trying not to swoon over her knitting). Occasionally these shows would prompt a discussion about aliens, and once in awhile we'd focus on that communicator and how people would 'beam up' in the future.

I've had my iPad for awhile, and it occurred to me that Grandma might like to know about it. I don't think she gets the technology gossip in Saskatchewan, because unless Tommy Hunter is still on TV, I don't know what she watches.  And so, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Grandma, I have to tell you about this new portable computer I have. You operate it by touching the screen.  It plays music and games, and its just like those computers on Star Trek.
Grandma: Eh? I can't hear you
Grandma: Oh. (Silence)
Me: Its really cool. I'll bring it with me when I come and visit. Its just like Star Trek.
Grandma: Star Trek? You mean you can beam here? Are you here now? Where are you?
Me: Umm, no. I can't beam there. No, its not like that. You can just touch the screen.You know, how we used to talk about what the future would be like? This is just like that computer on Star Trek.
Grandma: God didn't intend for people to beam anywhere. You shouldn't be beaming. That's the devils work.
Me: No one is beaming anywhere. I just think its cool that you don't need a keyboard? *struggling for an explanation here* You can just touch the screen. Tap it and it works.
Grandma: So you aren't here?
Me: No, I'm at home. I'm not there.
Grandma: Sounds like the devils work.

End conversation.

As you can see, there is clearly a generational gap in understand new technology. I could have gotten really technical with it, but I lost her at beaming, so there was no point.

Moral of the story: When explaining new technology such as the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, please refrain from using references to Star Trek, especially if your Grandparents are of the Religious variety.


  1. That is the FUNNIEST conversation ever. Were you able to not laugh?!?

  2. I work as an Activity Director at an Assisted Living Facility where the average age is about 87 and our oldest resident is 103. I get to have conversations like that almost daily! Gotta love it...