When I was a child, my mother always worried about my catching a virus. Well, I'm a married woman now, and she still worries about my catching a virus. Only these days they have names like the Love Bug and Melissa.
Mind you, my parents don't own a computer. And every time I suggest they get one (or in a mad moment of generosity, offer to buy them one) they protest, citing excuses like recalcitrant VCRs, smoke alarms that go off for no reason, answering machines that eat messages and ... come to think of it ... they make a good point.
Unfortunately, my parents' computer-free lifestyle isn't enough to shield them from Net paranoia. Here's a typical exchange:
Mom: You're not planning to use your computer today, are you?
Me: Of course I am. I need it for my work.
Mom: Aren't you worried about that awful Russian virus?
Me: You mean Chernobyl? It isn't really Ru...
Mom: Of course it's Russian.
If pressed, my mother couldn't tell you what a virus is. (Neither could I.) However, the media has programmed her to know it's most definitely not a good thing.
My mother's vigilance on my behalf goes well beyond viruses. A few years back during the Pentium Chip brouhaha, she phoned to ask if I owned anything made by Intel and what I planned to do about it. (Thank heavens she didn't make me explain what a chip is.)
High-tech hype has infected my father too. Just the other day he pronounced himself compelled to end every sentence with dot.com. Can you Imagine.com? I don't know where he could have gotten that Idea.com. It does Excite.com. On the other hand, people may get Annoyed.com.
Despite their Net consciousness (or maybe because of it) my parents stubbornly remain Web-free. Not even the prospect of 24 hours a day access to a limitless supply of virus info (the computer and the illness kind) is enough to change their minds.
But they often hear news stories that inspire curiosity and spur them to ask me questions. Impossible to answer questions like "How exactly does the Internet work?"
I used to struggle helplessly with explanations incoherent even to me. Not any more. Watching Shakespeare In Love gave me the response I've been searching for. From now on, when my parents ask how the Internet works, I'll say, "It's a miracle."
If they don't buy it, I'll just distract them with a sneeze.
© Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.
1st Published ShesGotItTogether.com
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