My Nan the Internet Ninja (Well, Almost)

I’d like to say that this is the story of one woman’s epic journey (in relatively old age) from net novice to net ninja. But it’s not quite that dramatic. It’s more like one woman’s long and tedious journey from thinking that Google was a t shirt printing business to being able to use the search engine… and to having a Facebook account and a Twitter account and even owning an iPad. But that doesn’t have quite as impressive a ring to it, does it?

“Google – do they print t shirts?”

That was what my wonderful Nan asked when I tried to explain what I did as an SEO back in 2009. I wrote about this (and some of her other perceptions of the Internet) on Ann Smarty’s blog a few years back in a piece called, “The Internet According to Nan.”

She wasn’t joking.

She didn’t particularly care for t’computer. The only time she ever even referenced the PC was when she had a cryptic crossword puzzle she needed help with and she’d request that go and ‘Ask Jeeves.’ The UK TV ads for that retro search engine showed a Butler called Jeeves and had somehow left my Nan thinking that even in the dial up era, I could go upstairs and simply speak to my computer. (Little did I know then that little over a decade later I would have the capability to not only “talk” to my computer and get a reasonable response, but to even talk to my mobile phone). Of course, I would get some form of answer to her questions, though certainly not by talking to my clunky looking old (slow) PC.

She wasn’t interested in online shopping. In her day, I was assured, shopping was done in shops. And that, for the record, ‘is how it should be.’ She had no desire even just a couple of years ago to use online banking. Apparently, online banking was the equivalent of standing in the street, waving your cash card and pin number and inviting anyone to just come along and help themselves. She didn’t book travel online. That was something else that simply should have been done on the High Street.

“Do you think I’d be able to use one of those ‘high pads?’

I don’t know when or how it happened. But suddenly three years or so ago (maybe as my Mum and Auntie began making more use of the Internet and she was therefore exposed to its potential) she started asking people to do certain online based tasks for her. It might be something simple, like just looking up a picture of a hotel she might be staying in. And this evolved over time unti 6 months ago she asked me a question that somewhat took me aback.

Do you think I’d be able to use one of those high pads?”

“iPad? Do you mean iPad?” I responded, correcting her automatically.

“Ok, yes. iPad. Whatever it is. Do you think I’d be able to use one of those iPads?”

“Where did you learn that word??”

Whether it was TV or newspaper advertising, I don’t know. But I let her use mine and showed her briefly how to search for something on the Internet, how to watch TV on it… And that was it.

“I want one.”

It’s testament to Apple that within minutes she’d figured out the basics of how to use it.

I got her an older model second hand. She instantly had us help her set up a Facebook account. Then, on the basis that she’d heard Simon Cowell was on Twitter, she wanted a Twitter account. She’s not an active social media user by any stretch of the imagination, but she enjoys reading what other people share.

Just on Sunday, she used her iPad to watch Crufts so the rest of us could watch the football on the telly while we were visiting.

For Christmas, she got a Kindle!

Embracing Tech

She’ll never be an internet ninja. But she point is she’s gone from completely rejecting technology to embracing it. She shops online (with assistance). She now trusts that Amazon won’t steal all her money. She can video chat with family abroad. As someone who can’t get out of the house much, she benefits from increased connectivity, ecommerce and access to information.

Nah, not an Internet Ninja, but certainly an almost-net-savvy-Nanna!