When Harry Hewitt attempted to explain the workings of the world wide web to his octagenerian grandmother, he expected limited success. But even that modest hope was dashed, after a lengthy explanation punctuated by confused questions left the elderly Mrs Hewitt feeling only baffled and tired.
“After handing me a $50 note, which was wrapped up in a tissue for some reason, Nanna said ‘what’s this internet I’ve heard so much about’?” recounted a visibly chastened Hewitt. “I should have just fobbed her off, but I was feeling guilty because of the cash. Big mistake.”
Grandma Hewitt hasn’t been this confused since she tried to program the VCR
Hewitt’s key error was in trying to explain the electronic superhighway in the abstract. “I offered to show it to her how to use it, but she said ‘oh, no, I’m too old. I just want to know what it is.’ ” he said. “Explaining exactly what the internet is without showing someone is kind of hard to begin with, but it’s a lot harder when they can’t switch on their own TV.”
No matter how remedial his terms, Hewitt’s grandmother found some way of missing the thrust of their meaning. “She kind of understood that there were all these computers ‘talking’ to each other, but she couldn’t understand what it was all for. She kept on saying things like ‘it’s all a mystery’ and ‘it’s incredible what they can do nowadays’, but just looking a bit scared and listless.”
“I think she understands even less about it now that she did when we started, if that’s possible.”
Hewitt has since committed himself to not explaining why he has not found himself a nice young lady yet.